New hands on the wrench: RJ Crouch

After 40 years, one wife, two children, living at three different addresses in the same street, and training six apprentices, it’s time for Richard Crouch to hand over the wrench to his number one son.

He’s the R in RJ Crouch, the plumbing and gas fitting company, founded in 1981 that is now in the hands of his son, Tom Crouch.

“He’s been instructed to look after my customers, the good ones stay with you for life,” says Richard.

At least one, John Nichols Construction, has been with Richard since day one. ”He was a butcher, he then became a builder,” he laughs.

The now-68-year-old Richard, is a St Andrew’s College old boy and says at the time he attended the school most of the boys were sons of self-made men. “And many of them became customers of mine.”

The plumbing business’ story began 50 years ago, in 1972, when Richard was taken on as an apprentice for the Sleight brothers, whose company is also still operating today.

After completing the five years training, he was encouraged by his bosses to do his OE, and having UK ancestry Richard and then-girlfriend Jane, headed away.

When they returned to Christchurch, Richard, who could now work expertly in the imperial and metric systems, married Jane, his lifelong partner, and launched the plumbing business. Then, that bundle of joy Tom came along who, destiny decided, would work in the family business and would one day take over from his dad.

“Originally, Tom was going to go to Dunedin to study surveying then changed his mind. He decided that he wanted to work for dad. We were horrified,” Richard laughs.

Richard and Jane, who also stepped back from the business last year, have complete confidence in their son. Tom returned to New Zealand after being operations manager for 10 years at a large plumbing company in Sydney, overseeing 35 plumbers.

“I’m still around and I still do jobs. I just call Tom and ask if there’s anything for me to do. Of course, he’s never going to say no.”

Richard says Tom will be growing the business while still maintaining the customer-focused ethos that it’s had from the start. Meanwhile, he and Jane have plans to have very few plans. “We’re looking forward to being footloose and fancy free.”

Carrying on where his parents left off, Tom is joined by his partner Claire and hopes to have as strong a business and personal partnership as his mum and dad did.

Give the new RJ Crouch boss Tom a call on 027 535 5163 or email, he might just send out the old boss to your plumbing job.

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