Plumbing is not always considered the most glamourous of jobs, but for someone who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, it does more than pays the bills.

Ten years ago, Justin Moore worked in printing. However, he decided to move on to something “recession-proof”.

Today, Justin is the proud owner and manager of JLM Plumb’N’Gasfit, and together with his what he says is his “ultra-reliable” Isuzu NLR 45-150 Servicepack X, he’s busy solving plumbing problems throughout the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Justin chats with us about his job and the impact of COVID-19 on his business.

How has the COVID pandemic affected the plumbing trade?

The effect on the plumbing industry probably isn‘t as significant as the impact COVID-19 has had on other industries because trades have never really shut down. If people keep eating and drinking, plumbers are forever going to be in work—that’s the simplest way of looking at it.

How have the shutdowns and distancing measures impacted your business specifically?

We got busier, which has been a silver lining. I’ve spent the last few years building a decent reputation to make sure that in the event of a downturn, we’d still have work to a certain degree. Because of those hard yards, we’re still in demand so people want to use us.

With many people being homebound, I think they’ve also started noticing problems. Also, this could partly be due to the recent wet weather in Melbourne—just by coincidence—as wetter weather just means more leaky roofs and blocked drains.

It’s gotten so busy, I’ve even had to put on more blokes, so that’s there are five of us now—we’ve been pretty fortunate.

Working in an essential industry keeps us going, so I was able to retain all my employees and keep plodding along.

What does your average workday look like at the moment?

I get around to anywhere between four and eight jobs in a day. In the morning, I usually go and set the boys up at a job and quote it.

From there, I’ll probably go and sort blocked drains, because most days I’ve got at least one or two. Then I’ll be on the phone organising work, ordering materials, getting everyone else set up for the rest of the week, and then I’ll probably go do another emergency job, or liaise with customers or something like that.

We’ve also got some community projects on the go, so I‘ve been busy organising that to keep it on schedule.

What about social distancing? How has that affected your day-to-day?

I try to be on my own as much as I can. Sometimes my apprentice is with me, and in that scenario, we’re sitting at the farthest points we can in the truck.

I wouldn‘t want him sitting right next to me anyway, because that’ll be a bit weird even in a three-seater truck if the two of us just sat directly next to each other.

When I show up at a customer’s place, I’d usually walk up, shake the customer’s hand and have a chat to them inside their home. That’s not happening anymore. Now we stay outside if possible. We try to minimise actual contact with customers, so we’re only going inside when we really have to. I also get the boys to follow the recommended guidelines so we don’t put ourselves or our customers at risk.

Any advice for newbies interested in the plumbing trade?

It can be a dirty job and it’s not very glamorous, but if you do things right, it can certainly pay well. It’s also rewarding and enjoyable. Every day you’re going to solve different problems and you’re moving around doing different things, so there’s plenty of variety. I wouldn’t do anything else!

For some expert advice on insulating your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our blog with Senior Business Advisor, Chris Downie.