Family Values at North Coast Plumbing

Image source: Contributed

It’s not that often that you get to meet a family-owned and run business that has been on the Sunshine Coast for 70 years! Deb Caruso taps into the values, wisdom and heritage that has kept NCP in business for seven decades.

From humble beginnings as North Coast Plumbing, NCP has built an inter-generational family business based on the key mottos of ‘family, integrity, quality, community and sustainability’.

It’s a vision shared by their almost 60-strong team with a combined 550-plus years of experience!

Family matriarch Shirley McDonald, 87, was born in Palmwoods and met Howard in 1952 when she was just 16 and he was a newly qualified plumber.

“After we met, Howard decided to stay on the Sunshine Coast and in 1953, he went into partnership to create North Coast Plumbing,” she said.

The pair married in 1955 and while Shirley raised their children and volunteered in the community, Howard built the business, which at the time was the only plumbing service on the Coast. 

Their first store was on Duporth Avenue until Christopher Skase’s Quintex Group bought them out to build Big Top Shopping Centre in 1987. As part of the deal, he built the premises on Sugar Road, Maroochydore that they still occupy today.

Even though NCP still have a large team of expert Maintenance Plumbers which will always be a big part of the business, it was decided to ease back on large contracts realising there were more plumbers in the region (a lot trained by NCP). The company decided to focus on trade plumbing and retail sales with expert advice and the best quality brands at competitive prices thanks to NCP being part of Plumbing Plus, a major independent group which brings significant buying power.

Increased demand saw expansion into Noosa in 1982; Caloundra in 1985; Nambour in 1995; and Gympie in the early 2000s – all five showrooms are thriving today.

NCP can provide the full end-to-end service from custom-manufacturing parts on the original machine from 1978 to pvc piping, fixtures and fittings, the latest design trends in bathrooms, laundries – even the kitchen sink!

“We can assist customers who have their own plumbers or interior designers  or work with them direct,” says Tracy Wilkins, General Manager – Sales.

The business became NCP in the nineties as the retail showrooms and trade services became more of a priority.

Around that time, Howard was elected as as local councillor and Athol Osborne was appointed the General Manager, retiring only recently after 50 years.

Success is not just built on luck but due to the loyalty and dedication of staff and the number of staff who have reached between 15 and 5o years of service is testament to the NCP culture.

While all five children (and often their partners) worked in the business at some stage; John McDonald and Tracy Wilkins are still actively involved; Lisa Morden recently left to open a gym; and Cheryl Rudd and Scott McDonald both recently retired, passing the baton to the next generation including Cheryl’s son Hayden and Scott’s boys, Brad and Matt.

“We’ve never been forced into the family business,” says Tracy. “It’s always been an option and a lot of us have developed careers elsewhere before coming to NCP. It’s a great environment with such strong values and ethics, it’s a pleasure to be part of it.”

Over the past seven decades, trends have come and gone but reliable, family -friendly service, expert advice and quality products at the right price have endured. NCP has always been generous in supporting the community and the Family Council of five children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren; are actively involved in selecting charities and causes to support.

As for the next 70 years?

Despite opportunities to expand into other markets, Tracy says they are committed to the Coast.

“We grew up here, we’ve raised families and built our business here,” she said. “We’re going to focus on what we do well and stick to what we know – giving back and providing customers with friendly service and expert advice to help them achieve their dreams.”

Here’s to the next 70 years!

About the Author /

[email protected]

Deb has 25+ years' experience providing strategic communications and brand reputation advice to clients in the government, business and not-for-profit clients. She is passionate about Noosa and is an active member of her community, providing PR to Slow Food Noosa and other clients. Her passion lies in working with small businesses to help them succeed. She is planning to release the Tastes of Noosa cookbook with Matt Golinski in 2019.

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