By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – writer

Gerhard Kotzee, Dawn’s chief executive officer (CEO) of African operations and manufacturing, tells us why he’s excited about the World Plumbing Conference (WPC) 2016

South Africa’s current state of water insecurity – whether due to failing infrastructure, mismanagement, or drought – means that the World Plumbing Conference (WPC) 2016 could not have come at a better time.

The preservation of our most precious, and indeed finite, resource must be our top priority, especially in the plumbing industry, which is at the forefront of this crisis. Gerhard Kotzee of Dawn gives us his thoughts on WPC 2016, to be held in Cape Town on 15-16 September 2016, and how it can help enhance sustainable plumbing practises across Africa.

What does WPC 2016 mean to your brand?
Plumbing hardware is what we do and that’s why we’ve decided to support this gathering of plumbers and invested parties within this industry and from around the world. It’s all about building our Dawn brands into Africa (where we have a number of companies) and so we want to take the opportunity to expose our customers to South African, locally-manufactured brands.

How do you think the theme of the conference – ‘Regulations for sustainability in plumbing – a case for international standards’ – will benefit to the rest of Africa?
I think, ultimately, standards are our biggest differentiator and I think, in the world in which we’re trading at the moment, standards are the only way people have comfort that they’re dealing with a product of a certain specification, that will last a certain amount of time, and which is fit for purpose. So to us, standards are very important – every product that we sell is SABS [South African Bureau of Standards]-approved or carries other required certifications. In Africa, we are at various stages of promoting the standards even beyond the borders of SA. In southern Africa, we see that the SABS standard is very well-received, while the further north we go, there is more of a tendency towards relying on ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation]. But clearly standards are the differentiator.

What impact will WPC 2016 have on the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA)?
I think the Institute of Plumbing plays a very important role for us as a company, not just to ensure that quality products are procured by plumbers but also that the installations are done to a specific standard. I think this type of conference will promote not just buying and using good products but also installation standards and regulation and testing post-installation, which is critical to us because we (as manufacturers) have a limited impact on how the product is ultimately installed. Ultimately, the installation lies with the plumbing industry, so it’s a very important function that IOPSA fulfils. IOPSA’s involvement in creating the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB) is an advantage. I think we’ve seen the impact of the certificates of compliance (CoCs) in the electrical industry and I think that’s what we’re pushing with the PIRB – to really make it a requirement that the plumbing installations are done at SABS standards with SABS products.

WPC 2016 is going to have additional elements – like an exhibition, a skills demonstration, and a community plumbing challenge. Do you see a benefit to us an industry in taking a more active role in community plumbing?
I think the reality in South Africa, but also in Africa, is that people are going to build homes and they’re going to plumb these homes, so somebody’s going to do the work – whether they’re trained or untrained. And we all know untrained plumbers can cause negative consequences in the functioning of a building. So I would say that, if we proactively get involved and educate – and hopefully it will get to a point where people actually be qualified to do quality installations – I think it can only support the quality products that we try and promote.


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Conference / exhibition bookings:
Mari Macnamara: +27(0) 11 579 4940 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Online registration (click here)

Transfers / tours bookings details:
Helen: +27(0)82 562 2260 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Pia: +27(0)79 532 1219 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stefvan Stemmet: +27(0)21 492 2203 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Interact Media Defined (Pty) Ltd (IMD) has been appointed to organise the event.

WPC 2016 Strategic Organising Committee
Lee Goldie – Chairperson, Larry Berger, Herman Lourens, Henry Soden, Robbie Webb, Gary Macnamara