Dean Hawkins — achieving all the way

By Benjamin Brits

A sporty guy, ironman participant, and someone who has worked his way through the plumbing trade, is today a director at Sebenza Sanitary Engineers.

His childhood memories, mainly, are all things sporty and on the sports field. Growing up in Pretoria, Hawkins attended Pretoria Boys High. Admittedly, he was not one to really focus on academics, and his motivation was more towards the sports field. Playing 1st team hockey and then also playing for the 18A Gauteng North team, he was awarded with full colours for his hockey achievements. He also participated on the soccer and baseball fields, representing Gauteng North in all three of these sports.

Dean mainGetting into the plumbing industry

After high school, Hawkins ventured off to London to travel and work. He spent close on three years in the UK, which is where he also entered the plumbing world. While working over in the UK, he landed a job as a labourer on a construction site. It was during this time that he was offered a job as a plumbing apprentice with the company he was working for (Shepard’s Engineering Services).

Dean Hawkins. Credit: Sebenza Sanitary Engineers

“I spent a further two years working and learning the trade in the UK, but I eventually returned to some South African sunshine, which I really missed so much. Once back in South Africa, I did my apprenticeship with a family-owned company called Capriati and Son. I spent three years with them and then moved on to my final year working at Phala Plumbing before I completed my trade test. I then started Sebenza Sanitary Engineers in 2007,” Hawkins says.

Outside of work

Aside from the plumbing world, Hawkins is keen on fly fishing and golf. In recent years, he also participated in triathlons and has done six half-Ironman races (which is a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle, and 21km run), and one full Ironman race (which is a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle, and 42km run). In September 2018, he and his wife, Monique, welcomed a baby boy, Jamie, into the world, so, life after work has now changed to spending as much time as possible with them both. “Away from work, my greatest achievement is finding my wife, Monique, who has showed me there is more to life than what the eye can see, and after that, the birth of our son,” Hawkins proudly states.

A fine achievement

Hawkins considers his entire journey so far an achievement: “Building the company from the days when it was just myself in a little Bantam bakkie with my team, Ronnie and George [who still work for the company], to what my brother Dale and I have built up today. We have around 120 staff members and are a reputable plumbing company in the construction industry.”

Hawkins believes in working both smart and hard, but equally taking time out to reflect on what is important in life. “When you are stressed and overworked, things will not go your way. Take a step back, reflect, and work out your next step. Outline what you want to accomplish, put that into your thoughts, and positive results will follow,” Hawkins says.

Industry sentiment

Sticking to standards plays a critical role, not only for an even playing field, but also for their intention of ensuring best practice. Water and sanitation is after all critical for living a ‘normal life’ today and should be seen as a precious service.

“I feel strongly about consistency and if there was one specific thing I could change in the plumbing sector, it would be to regulate the industry on standards. There are way too many companies out there not working to the correct standards set by the industry and this is a significant problem,” Hawkins concludes.

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