• 14 Jan 2016 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    From the executive director

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA)’s executive director, Gary Macnamara, walks you through winning the plumbing battle

    It all starts with you!

    We often complain about how difficult the plumbing industry is and how much better it would be doing something else. The saying that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ is unfortunately not our exclusive right. The fact is that all industries and countries have their own difficulties and challenges, especially in the current political, economic and social turmoil we find ourselves in.

    So how do you decide on which battles to fight in your business? How are you getting yourself fit for the future?

    How much of your personal mindset creates stumbling blocks in solving challenges? Are you supporting and stimulating yourself with options? Exploring all possible opportunities to implement solutions to your business challenges or are you stuck and a little overwhelmed at this point?

    When last did you step back, reflect and brainstorm your options alone, with other entrepreneurs or with a mentor? How hungry are you to surround yourself with solution-seekers rather than people who will agree with how hard business is?

    Take the plunge; treat yourself to the gift of stepping back and looking at where you are and where you want to go.

    There is a simple concept referred to a ‘learned helplessness’ – where we are prevented from avoiding some repeatedly negative stimuli. We eventually reach a state in which it we become passive and depressed because we believe there is no action we can take to avoid the aversive stimulus. Essentially, we give up trying.

    Whilst this sounds extreme, even a little of this at a personal level can play with our motivation… So how about building on the gift to yourself? Shift from ‘give up’ exercises to ‘I’m building solutions that make sense’, especially if you choose to give yourself a fighting opportunity to be fit for the future.

    If you can shift your thinking even a little bit, you can shift from blaming yourself and others to learning from your past decisions. That old saying – ‘We can’t change our outcome if we keep doing the same thing’ – may start to make sense.

    Let’s go into a little more detail and, by way of example, show you that everyone has the opportunity to be successful:

    Round 1 – SIMPLE

    • FOCUS

    Focus on what you do best, think simple. It’s that simple; don’t complicate your business for the sake of things. Controls, processes, products and services must make a difference to your vision for the business and client experience, otherwise why have them? You’re looking for excellence without unnecessary stress, effective use of your resources, management of your overheads and delivering a quality service.


    Fighters keep their plans simple, so they can deliver – trying to implement many different techniques and moves can be tiring and often ineffective. A fighter knows his/her strengths and focusses on those to deliver the knockout blows.

    • TEAM

    Your team is part of your business, they need to understand what you expect and how you measure service and client satisfaction.

    • BASICS

    Get the basics right and build from there. Your unique offering must be a living experience for clients. Don’t focus on what people don’t use or want – ‘Focus on what you do best, think simple.’

    Remember – ‘No-one wins a world title fight by throwing the same punches... Each fighter plays to their unique strengths to deliver the unexpected and to gain victory when their opponent least expects it.’

    Coming soon to upcoming issues of Plumbing Africa:

    • Round 2: UNIQUE
    • Round 3: COMPETITIVE
    • Round 4: CONSISTENT

    What is the secret of success? ‘RIGHT DECISIONS’

    How do you make the right decisions? ‘EXPERIENCE’

    How do you get experience? ‘WRONG DECISIONS

    • Article contributors: Steve Brown, IOPSA operations manager; Debbie Donaldson, You are Worth It motivational speaker; Gary Macnamara, IOPSA executive director.
  • 03 Dec 2015 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) is paving the way for plumbers to become qualified solar water geyser and heat pump installers in terms of the new apprenticeship qualification.

    The plumbing environment is changing and the question is are you ready? The Department of Energy (DOE) is gearing up to roll out a new solar hot water rebate system, coupled with the legislative requirements to install min 50 % alternative hot water heating technologies in new buildings. This means that the plumbing industry needs solar geyser and heat pump installers.

    How can you, the plumber, upskill yourself and become a certified installer? There are two routes that you can follow to become qualified as a solar geyser or heat pump installer, which will allow you as an individual to be certified as a solar geyser or heat pump installer and issue a Certificate of compliance (CoC) as required by the National building Regulations.

    The first route applies to qualified plumbers that have not completed their solar geyser / heat pump qualified (those who do not have the solar geyser or heat pump PIRB designation). You will be required to go through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route at an accredited skills development provider (SDP) ‘training provider’. Once the training provider has established that you have met all the requirements through the Recognition of Prior learning process the Skills Development Provider (SDP) ‘training provider’ can apply to IOPSA for you to complete the final summative assessment.

    The second route as a new learner is that you must complete the training in order to be recommended for the summative assessment ‘Trade Test’ and receive your professional designation. Accredited solar geyser and heat pump SDPs can be found on the IOPSA website.

    The Quality Council for Trade and Occupation (QCTO) has appointed IOPSA as the Assessment Quality Partner (AQP) for the solar geyser and heat pump qualifications. To carry out the summative assessment all learners will have to go through the new solar geyser and heat pump training programme.

    IOPSA is rolling out a pilot project in January 2016, establishing test centres where summative assessments (Solar geyser /Heat pump ‘trade tests’) can take place according to IOPSA set standards and procedures. There will be two test centres, one in Johannesburg, and Cape Town to begin with.

    Anyone who meets the requirements as detailed above can apply for either of these assessments and must do so through their SDP i.e. training provider, college or school, to IOPSA.

    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory knowledge and practical skill modules, as well as work experience:

    1. Knowledge Modules – 14 credits required

    2. Practical Skills Modules – 23 credits required

    3. Work Experience Modules – 30 credits required

    4. Final Summative assessment (trade test) required to complete qualification

    The summative assessment will comprise of two sections being theory and practical components.

    Theory assessment will be carried out in a controlled environment at an accredited test centre. Candidates must successfully complete their theory assessment before they can progress to the practical assessment.

    Practical assessment will also be carried out at an accredited test centre for new learners.

    Qualified/licensed plumbers who have worked on solar or heat pump installation under adequate control and passed the solar geyser or heat pump theory summative assessment will be able to submit five CoCs as proof of practical and workplace experience of which two will be audited. If the audit report complies with regulations (i.e. no re-fix items are necessary), it will result in the awarding of the qualification.

    Alternatively a temporary solar geyser / heat pump designation within PIRB system can be allocated and five training CoCs will be issued to a licensed plumber. The five installations will need to be completed and logged for their practical and work place experience submission of which two will be audited.

    For more information, contact IOPSA on 0027 (0)11 454 0025.

  • 03 Dec 2015 9:50 AM | Anonymous

    Plumbers to be aware of the responsibility they take on when signing a PIRB Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for plumbing installation on the sale of a house

    Consumer’s or property owner’s expectation of a Certificate of Compliance is that all plumbing work within a building complies with regulation and is in working order.

    A PIRB Certificate of Compliance (CoC) certifies an installation is compliant in terms of regulation. In most cases this will most likely be on a specific installation and does not necessarily include all plumbing in a building and definitely does not certify that existing plumbing is in working order.

    If you have been requested to issue a CoC on a new building or sale of a house take note of the following:

    1. If an installation is not complaint do NOT issue a CoC. The consequences of issuing a CoC on a non-compliant plumbing work is the property owner will have legal recourse on the individual that issues and signs the certificate.

    2. Notify the property owner that the plumbing work does not comply with the National Building Regulations and specifically what needs to be rectified.

    3. Notify the property owner that a CoC is not a confirmation that products are in working order but specifically plumbing work has been installed in compliance with regulation.

    4. Notify the property owner that plumbing work that is hidden in walls, floors, ground and concrete roofs are excluded from certificate as they cannot be inspected, unless one has carried out such an inspection such as with a drain camera inspection.

    5. The PIRB CoC covers a specific installation and not the entire property plumbing work. We suggest that you download a comprehensive domestic property checklist (can be found under member information on IOPSA website) to guide you in what needs to be inspected and this can be given to a property owner as proof of what is non-complaint.

    This will require a plumber to inspect a property comprehensively and they should allow enough time accordingly.

  • 03 Dec 2015 9:26 AM | Anonymous

    IOPSA’s Gauteng plumbers’ evening was an enjoyable and educational experience for all

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA)’s Gauteng plumbers’ evening, held at Three Oaks in Centurion on 28 October 2015, was a roaring success.

    The plumbers’ evenings, which are held on a regular basis by IOPSA around South Africa, provide plumbers with the opportunity to socialise with one another and, in this case, listen to those who ‘have been there’.

    Gary Macnamara, executive director of IOPSA,
    addresses attendees of the IOPSA Gauteng plumbers’ evening.
    Plumber Dale Simon shares his story.
    Debbie Donaldson, a motivational speaker,
    gets the attendees fired up.
    Theuns van Aardt, from Powerz-On Solar, won the raffle.

    Speakers at this event included Dale Simon, a plumber and business owner who talked about his experience in the industry; Debbie Donaldson, a motivational speaker and a consultant who talked to the attendees about what they need to do to take their business to the next level; and representatives from Nedbank, who presented attendees with the PocketPOS, a mobile payment system that will help small business owners deal more effectively with client payments on the go.

    The evening ended with a raffle and dinner, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

  • 27 Nov 2015 11:58 AM | Anonymous

    Download the first South African plumbing app - linked to the PIRB registration and COC, as well as access to installation guide, rates, on site data collection and plumbers tools.

    The app is available to download for all Samsung, Nokia, Sony phones and tablets.

  • 20 Oct 2015 2:08 PM | Anonymous

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA)’s Steve Brown looks at all the ways that plumbing installations can go wrong.

    What you mean the legs can move? Do I really have to put a pipe on the expansion relief?

    What do you mean I must put another pipe on this geyser?

    Do you think I've used enough flux?

    I really nailed this job.

    It seems spelling is of no concern to some plumbers.

    This is not the way to discharge a pipe.

    What do you mean I have to support this pipe?

    How not to discharge the expansion relief valve.

    Someone obviously can't measure correctly.

  • 20 Oct 2015 1:04 PM | Anonymous

    This is the first of a new series of articles, entitled ‘The Plumbing Battle’, which will help you succeed in your business.

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) has highlighted business acumen as one of the challenges facing plumbing businesses.

    IOPSA is therefore working constructively to educate existing plumbing companies on good business practice, in order to create a sustainable plumbing environment.

    The Institute is not only developing content related to best plumbing business practise, but is also looking at different ways to communicate this content to the industry.

    The key to fighting the plumbing battle is knowing the forces that you are fighting against. Some of the key challenges facing today’s plumbers are

    • Manufacturers, importers and merchants selling poor quality products;
    • Poor salaries and wages;
    • Bad plumbing businesses (i.e. unqualified plumbers) giving the industry a bad name;
    • Poor business practices;
    • Lack of skills and access to skilled resources;
    • Deceitful consumers who expect the best but are unwilling to pay for it;
    • Greed above need, profit above people;
    • A highly competitive industry;
    • Corruption and dishonesty;
    • A culture of no maintenance. and waste; and
    • Clients who don’t pay.

    We often complain about how difficult the plumbing industry is and how much better it would be doing something else. But, the idea that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ is not only the perception in the plumbing industry; the fact is that all industries have their own difficulties and challenges, especially in the current political, economic and social climate in South Africa.

    IOPSA often get calls from lawyers and professionals wanting be plumbers. Their perception is that that plumbers make lots of easy money. On the other hand, plumbers often think that lawyers are making easy money.

    So, how do you make a plumbing business successful? And which battles do you fight?

    Firstly, the key may be to overcome your own personal interferences, which can create stumbling blocks in solving challenges. These challenges you face can be overcome if you focus your energy on the solution instead of the problem. Take a step back, and look at where you are and want to go.

    Secondly, make the right decisions for the right reasons, and never give up. When you look for solutions, don't look to blame the person next to you. Change your thinking and learn from your mistakes. We live in a non-compliant society, a society that looks for the loop holes instead of being part of the solution.

    Sometimes, we deceive ourselves. We convince ourselves we are making the right choice when we know it is actually the wrong choice. For example, we get upset with others when they drive through a stop street. We get upset with the taxis when they go through red robots, but we ourselves drive through stop streets and red robots.

    What is the secret of success? Making the RIGHT DECISIONS.

    How do you make the right decisions? EXPERIENCE.

    How do you get experience? By making the WRONG DECISIONS and learning from them.

    So, now that we are positive and ready to create solutions and battle the odds, here is a seven step guide to wining and building a successful plumbing business. We will cover each topic in the following issues of Plumbing Africa:

    1. S is for Simple – Keep your business simple focus on what you do best.
    2. U is for Unique – Don’t try be everything to everyone. Find your niche and put your energy into your unique offering.
    3. C is for Competitive – Create opportunities to be different. Know your competitors and ensure your pricing is relative to the market.
    4. C is for Consistent – Have faith that your business will succeed and persevere as there will be many obstacles and frustrations, which can always be overcome.
    5. E is for Evolve – Know your client’s needs, understand your industry and continually adapt your business. No short cuts, learn from your mistakes.
    6. S is for Service – Give clients what they want and the best service you can achieve. Deliver what you promise, don’t over promise and under deliver.
    7. S is for Support – Employ the right staff and support them. Create financial support and find a business mentor.
  • 15 Oct 2015 2:32 PM | Anonymous

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) lays out how the consumer complaint process works and what value it provides Institute members

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA)’s consumer complaint process is sometimes viewed in a negative light by members but Gary Macnamara, executive director of IOPSA, explained that the fact that consumers have an option for recourse should something go wrong with a plumbing installation etc., is merely another benefit that IOPSA members enjoy.

    “A consumer can feel comfortable using an IOPSA member because there is recourse,” Macnamara said. The consumer complaint process that the Institute has put into place provides consumers and plumbers with an impartial adjudicator when problems arise.

    The intention is not to usurp the plumber’s authority in anyway. If the consumer has a problem with the plumber, and they contact IOPSA for advice. The Institute’s first suggestion is always that the consumer talks to the plumber. It is only when every option has been exhausted and no solution can be reached that IOPSA will step in.

    Not only does this provide the consumer with support, should something go awry, but this process is also intended to support the plumber, should the consumer’s claims be unfounded. “We can very quickly assess if the complaint is legitimate,” said Macnamara.

    About 80% of the complaints that IOPSA receives are made about non-members.

    “If you’re delivering quality, there’s value in that,” said Macnamara.

    It is important to note that any complaints made to IOPSA must be made in writing. If a consumer phones in a complaint, they will be asked to put it in writing. The reason for this is to weed out spurious complaints, and to enable IOPSA to establish the accuracy of the facts of the case.

    How it works for members

    1. IOPSA will confirm that the contractor/plumber is a member and in good standing with the Institute.
    2. A compliant form is to be sent out to the complainant with the instruction that it must be fully completed with all supporting documentation submitted.
    3. Once complaint form has been received from the consumer and is fully completed, the complaint is allocated to the respective regional chairman to process.
    4. The chairman will assess the complaint and send it to the member for an official response.
    5. When the member’s response has been received, an inspection at the complainant’s property can be carried out and a ruling given if required.
    6. Site inspections or meetings must be conducted in a professional manner at all times.
    7. The ruling and written report must be given to the national administrator to close the complaint and give formal feedback to member and complainant within two weeks.

    If the member is found to be at fault, disciplinary measures will be instituted. But only as a last resort – the member will be given every opportunity to correct whatever mistakes have occurred.

  • 06 Oct 2015 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    Gary Macnamara, executive director of the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA), began his career in architecture after receiving a National Diploma in Architectural Technology. The first ten years of his working life were spent at an architectural firm, where he was involved in the design of buildings of every shape and size. 

    In 2003, he joined Interact Media Defined (IMD) a business-to-business publication company based in Bedfordview. During his tenure at IMD, Macnamara involved himself in every facet of the business. He left IMD in 2012 to develop his passion for digital media.

    In 2014, Macnamara was approached by IOPSA to be part of their strategic plan to become a more effective plumbing body and to better serve the industry. “I jumped at the opportunity as it presented many challenges to overcome, making the career direction even more exciting and fulfilling,” Macnamara said. Macnamara’s experience in the building industry and plumbing trade media allowed him to become familiar with specialised trade industries and trade bodies, particularly IOPSA. This, coupled with his experience as a director and business owner, gave Macnamara the added skills and experience required to really make a difference. “Working for IOPSA has given me the opportunity to make a difference in the industry I started in and that I am so passionate about.”

    Hands-on approach

    Macnamara’s duties as executive director of IOPSA entails the implementation and management of the Institute’s constitution and strategic objectives. His main responsibilities include: 

    a. Developing and implementing the national executive vision and strategic plan of the Institute; 

    b. Developing an operational plan which incorporates goals and objectives that work towards the strategic direction of the Institute;

    c. Managing the planning, implementation and evaluation of the Institute’s programmes and services;

    d. Managing the implementation of human resources policies, procedures and best practices;

    e. Administering the funds of the Institute according to the approved budget and monitoring the Institute’s monthly cash flow;

    f. Communicating with stakeholders to keep them informed of the work of the Institute and to identify changes in the community served by the Institute; and

    g. Identifying and evaluating the risks to the Institute's people (clients, staff, management, volunteers etc.), property, finances, goodwill, and image, and implementing measures to control risks.

    Macnamara’s favourite part of the job is creating solutions to the many challenges the plumbing industry faces and dealing with individuals within the plumbing sector who are so passionate about their industry.

    In the future

    “What I have learnt over the past 12 months is that the plumbing industry cannot be changed overnight,” Macnamara said. “There is a hugely negative culture of plumbers within an untrusting environment between all role players of the plumbing supply chain, so it’s a long road with many goals to achieve.”

    One of Macnamara’s main goals for IOPSA is changing the mind sets of plumbers to create a positive environment in which change can be facilitated.

    Macnamara’s work philosophy is to keep it simple. “Do things the right way and for the right reasons, persevere and have faith that you can achieve what you want to no matter what the obstacles, as long as you know what you want.”

  • 17 Sep 2015 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) offers up thoughts on what needs to be done to close the skills gap in South Africa.

    After travelling across South Africa, and talking to plumbers as well as manufacturers and suppliers, it is clear to see that there is an obvious skills shortage in South Africa. This is not news, but the shortage has negatively impacted the construction sector, and consequences are now being seen with even more devastating implications. 

    Poor quality installations and non-compliance to industry standards is resulting in failure of products, failing infrastructure, growing non-compliant industry, and poor health and safety for all.

    What is perhaps the scariest reality is that companies within the business sector are attempting to solve the skills shortage individually to minimise the impact on their businesses. Although this is a positive thing, the challenge that this creates is that it is a short-term fix and not a long-term solution. ‘If a farmer sees an unhealthy tree, they don’t look at the branches to diagnose it; they look at the root.’

     Gary Macnamara, executive director of IOPSA.

    Gary Macnamara, executive director of IOPSA. 

    We need to understand what the industry is doing to resolve this crisis and then align with these solutions, to achieve a common goal: ‘Skilled artisans’.

    The industry has been working hard to develop the new apprenticeship qualification under the new Qualifications Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) framework which will solve the formal education from top down.

    The Institute will also be focussing on the following areas which will reduce the skills gap in the industry

    • Coordinating the training efforts of all;
    • An overall plan to deliver projects which include the ‘on the job’ aspect is critical to the creation of skills. The output quality of artisans is dependent on increasing the quality of ‘on the job’ part of our training system;
    • Uplifting training colleges (facilities, facilitators and training material) and the alignment of public and private training providers;
    • Continued funding for training, which is critical and must be addressed; and
    • An apprentice programme to close the gap between employment market and skills required in the plumbing industry, including quality assurance of training and skills.

    Industry members need to come together to solve the skills shortages that are sustainable. IOPSA will strive to support manufacturers’ initiatives to train installers relating to specific products and new technologies within the correct framework.

Blog posts



Copyright IOPSA 2018 - E&OE

Website Disclaimer                                              Email Disclaimer 


Address: 37 Linksfield Road, Dowerglen

Phone: 08610 Plumber(7586237)+27 11 454 0025

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software