Chris Burgess: we want to be ‘the wind beneath people’s wings’

A glance at the company website shows that Burgess and Partners Plumbing Services is not a run-of-the-mill plumbing company. It also offers specialist services, such as leak detection, high-pressure jetting, bulk water supply, and other specialist projects. They are a member of no fewer than four reputable bodies: Institute of Plumbing SA, Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa, Master Builders Association North, and the South African Institute of Facilities Management.

The CEO of Burgess and Partners, Chris Burgess, says that what gets him, his partners and managers up in the morning, is not only building what he believes is the leading plumbing professional services company in South Africa, but also training and uplifting their staff. “We treat our staff so well that they could run their own businesses, but by doing this, they never have reason to leave. We want to be the wind beneath their wings,” says Burgess.

Burgess built up his business from scratch and initially worked from his father’s house, but since 1978 one element has stayed the same: always giving great service. This has built the foundation for the company that now comprises a fleet of vehicles and crews servicing the greater Gauteng region.

The company has developed a state-of-the-art software management system called Service Express. Its large LED screens in the recently built control centre displays and plots the crew’s locations on the road, which means they can reach customers quickly from their bases across Gauteng. “Along with the IT manager, control centre manager, and plumbing manager, they have six expert controllers who organise, manage, and liaise with allocated teams and the public,” says Burgess.

Many companies pay lip service to the idea that their employees are their greatest asset, but here it seems genuine: the staff is treated with respect. They receive regular feedback on their service levels and receive training at the internal training centre on how to uplift their skills levels, how to communicate with customers, and how to make great service even better. “We are grateful to have highly motivated and content staff,” Burgess says.

The company also operates on Saturdays and Sundays at weekday rates besides its after-hours emergency service.

Burgess says he motivates himself by reading good business books and has been inspired by Good to great by Jim Collins.

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