When a plumbing company couldn’t resolve Ronelle Pagel’s problem, she decided to tackle it herself. Ten years down the line, her business, The Plumbing Lady, services more than 1,000 residential customers in Pretoria and various commercial businesses including property management companies such as Pretor, Huurkor, First Property, Bescor Properties and Thys Seymour Properties. Body corporates of flats in Hatfield, Lynnwood and Pretoria East, as well as landlords of shopping centres, are regular customers.
The Plumbing Lady has also been involved in major kitchen and bathroom renovations projects in Waterkloof, Brooklyn, Woodhill.
We asked Ronelle a few questions about her business.
Who is Ronelle Pagel?
I was born and raised in the old Transkei (Umtata and Indwe), matriculated in Touwsriver, and initially worked in the printing industry, where I started my own brokering company. I have three kids, all of whom have left home, and run my current plumbing business with my husband, Chris.
How did you get involved in the plumbing industry?
As I said I had a bad service experience, where two men couldn’t solve the problem, they could not provide any real reasons for not doing so, they could not communicate properly, and I did not feel safe as I was home alone while they were working. On that day, I decided to do it myself and ended up assisting neighbours and friends with their plumbing issues. A year later, I did a plumbing course, and so the business grew. I am now a licensed plumber with the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB).
Tell us more about your business
The Plumbing Lady, employs seven people, focusing on maintenance plumbing in the Pretoria area. The objective is to increase the size of the business and start employing women plumbers, many of whom are currently qualifying at various technical colleges in Gauteng.
Besides the fact that you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry, what makes your services unique?
The business is customer focused. I have three critical principles – quality work (and continuous training), honest and frequent communication with customers (a cornerstone of my business), and reliability (to do what I say I will).
More than 90% of new business is gained from referrals. I also love what I do and providing customers with plumbing-related solutions is highly satisfactory.
What do you do to unwind?
I love sport, mainly playing golf. Cooking is a favourite, as well as reading and/or following home improvement/renovation programmes on TV.