Thursday 21st of November 2019
Masterlink plumbing apprentice Valentino Eyer may only be 21 years old, but he’s already become a name to be reckoned with—and not just on his Kaitaia home turf. He made it all the way the the national final of the Young Plumber of the Year (YPOTY) this October.
Above: Plumbing World Northern Regional Manager Tristan Wilkinson (right) presenting Valentino with his Young Plumber of the Year regional winner prizes and award. CREDIT: Plumbing World
The Plumbing World Young Plumbers Club competition is run annually, with each nationwide branch holding its own competition, followed by eight regional finals. With a timed theory category, and six plumbing challenges sponsored by companies such as Methven and Caroma, it comes down to top-quality craftsmanship, knowledge and timeliness as to who wins the overall title.
Every year this competition gets bigger and better, showcasing the skilled and talented young people in our industry.
This is the third year Valentino has entered. In the inaugural 2017 Young Plumber of the Year competition, he won the Far North branch competition and placed fourth in the regional final—despite only having one year’s plumbing experience.
In 2018, he again won his local branch competition and finished strongly in the Regional final held in Auckland’s North Shore.
This year he won both the branch and regional heats, reaching the national final of the Young Plumber of the Year in Hamilton. He was the only apprentice to make it to the final—all the other finalists were qualified plumbers.
Valentino decided on a plumbing, gasfitting and drainage career while still in high school and has gone on to make his family and host employer Jack Rogers proud, with his go-getting attitude and competition successes.
Jack Rogers and Valentino Eyer met while Valentino was still at Kaitaia College and figuring out which path to take when his schooling was over. Rogers and Rogers Plumbing, known for training apprentices in the region, initially took Valentino on through the school Gateway programme, a bridging class that helps give high school students a good feel for the trade they’re interested in.
That was nearly four years ago, and Valentino’s apprenticeship with the Master Plumbers-owned Masterlink apprentice management programme could not have gone more smoothly. “He’s outstanding and has been since day one,” says Jack. “He’s a very academic young man as well as having good hand skills, and he gets along well with everyone—a model apprentice.”
Above: Valentino getting stuck into the Methven/Rheem skills test at this year’s North Shore regional final, held in August. Photo Credit: Plumbing World
Valentino is also a mature and kind-natured young man, who enjoys problem solving, which is exactly what Rogers and Rogers customers want—and he always cleans up at the end of a job. This has earned him his own reliable client base; not something every young apprentice can claim. “I’ll bar him from leaving Kaitaia, even if he doesn’t win in Hamilton!” said Jack before the national final took place.
You’ll never hear Valentino boasting about his wins or acting smug, though. He is more interested in taking on leadership roles within the firm, including taking more junior plumbers under his wing and reaching the stage where his boss has more time to dedicate to the new apprentices.
Masterlink Regional Manager Tania Forsyth has been Valentino’s mentor throughout his four-year apprenticeship. She believes that he’s a strong contender for the Young Plumber of the Year, due to his studious nature, his attention to detail and his consistent planning and preparation—as well as being a great plumber.
“He’s a quiet achiever,” says Tania. “He’s always well-prepared way ahead for his upcoming block courses and this will really help him out in the theory category. There are a lot of different types of plumbing work in the Kaitaia region that Valentino is already familiar with—and he always wants to do a good job.”
So impressed were the 2019 YPOTY judges with Valentino's skill level, attitude and abilities, that they demanded the creation of a new special award to recognise his excellence—MVP (Most Valuable Plumber).
Valentino finished the competition in the middle of the field, ahead of four certifying plumbers (who either own or run a business or have worked for major commercial plumbing firms) and another exceptional plumber who has just qualified.
Looking back on the competition, Valentino says he most enjoyed the exposure to new products and the trip to Auckland to visit Gold sponsor factories and manufacturing plants. "I haven't been behind the scenes of our industry before, and I really enjoyed it," he says.
Entering YPOTY has also given him more confidence to ask questions and grow as an individual. "I wouldn't turn down any opportunities that come my way now," Valentino says.
We're not the only people who feel that it is only a matter of time before Valentino wins the Young Plumber of the Year competition. Roll on 2020!
Photo Credit: Plumbing World
Find out more about Plumbing World's Young Plumber of the Year competition HERE
This blog is an updated version of an article by Florence Cohen in NZ Plumber magazine, Oct-Nov 2019 issue.
READ NZ PLUMBER MAGAZINE HERE