Senior Plumbing & Design Engineer at Hunter Plastics, Steve Hopkins, heads up the company’s technical team. He talks to us about how his everyday role pans out and how that has changed since Hunter took the Multikwik business into its operations.
To find out more about the department, read our interview with Steve below or contact our technical department..
Interview with Steve Hopkins
How many calls do you get a day?
Probably 50-100 calls a day. Since we have taken on Multikwik, this has increased, mainly because Multikwik is such an installer-focused brand. When a call comes in with a query on a Multikwik product, you can usually hear the caller flushing the toilet in the background! Mobile phones make it so much easier for installers to give us that kind of call from the spot.
Calls can last from half a minute to up to two and half hours. Take this morning as a typical example. I was on the phone to an installer for over an hour - he's fitted a product incorrectly.
These phone calls are nowadays joined by about fifteen emails a day - including Saturdays and Sundays. The peak time for enquiries on our web site is midnight to 1:00am. A plumber's work is never done!
Around 75% of our calls are from installers with the rest coming from merchants. Merchants will often hand you straight over to the installer, usually to explain or reinforce some technical point they have been trying to get across.
What do you like and dislike about the job?
What do I dislike? Starting at 8:30! I actually get in for 8:00am to answer emails.
What do I like? It may sound trite but I do get a buzz out of helping people. Sending away installers happy who were completely baffled -and sometimes quite cross - when they phoned us is quite satisfying.
I have been on the other side of the fence, working in a merchants so I know what it's like to be asked a question you can't answer. I've also been on the receiving end of some pretty substandard technical advice from companies that didn't even know they sold the product I had a query on - that incentivises me to be better.
What are the most frequently asked questions?
There are very few queries on Multikwik pan connectors to be honest. They are such a well designed and reliable product we don't often get asked about them. The only major mistake that installers tend to make is to mess about with the seal once it's been pushed onto the back of the WC. The white outer seal should stay tucked inside to maintain the integrity of the seal but installers think that this doesn't look right and pull it out - which can cause a leak. Some of the more ingenious plumbers have even made themselves little tools to pull this seal out, little realising their mistake. Apart from that, the Multikwik pan connectors don't cause us any worries.
The most common query we have is people wanting us to make rainwater calculations over the phone and queries on Building Regs - often the fall required on drainage pipes.
Do you go out on site visits?
If we can't answer a query, or there is a problem, we will send out one of the sales team to have a look. If there is still a query, then I, or another of the Technical Team, will go out and visit the site. The furthest I have been on a site visit is Dubai!
What's the strangest or silliest question you've been asked?
The one that never fails to amaze me is the person who phones with a query and when you ask them if they've read the instructions, the answer is "no"! I do remember one caller who asked us if we did a particular plumbing fitting in pink which amused us. We've also been asked if it's safe to use our pipes as a cake mould.
Have you ever had a question you couldn't answer?
Sometimes. But there's always a man who can here at Hunter so we always ring back with an answer. Nobody has ever stumped us completely yet.
Contacting our Technical Department
If you can't find the answer your looking for on our website our Technical department can point you in the right direction.
Alternatively you can phone 0208 855 9851 and ask for our Technical Department.