By: Ilana Koegelenberg – assistant editor

Rob Winter, managing director of Vaal Sanitaryware, talks about what the upcoming World Plumbing Conference (WPC) 2016 means to his brand and why delegates should attend this world-class event

South Africa will be proud to host the 2016 World Plumbing Conference (WPC 2016) in Cape Town later this year from 15-16 September, bringing together role-players from all over the world to discuss our planet’s most precious resource – water. We chat to one of the main sponsors of the event – Vaal Sanitaryware – to see why they believe it is important for them to support this event.

What does WPC 2016 mean to your brand?
I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the local brands, particularly the likes of Vaal, to showcase their local offerings and expertise. It’s also a unique chance to go out there and get the exposure we deserve as a local manufacturer.

As a recognised brand in South Africa and Africa, what would delegates expect from a World Plumbing Conference?
Certainly I would expect the visitors to be exposed to all the brands available. Again I make reference to the local manufacturing but I also expect them to get exposure to what technical services and offerings are available in the local market.

How do you respond to the perception that there is a general lack of technical expertise in Africa, particularly within our industry?
As a manufacturer, we put a lot of effort into the design and aesthetics of our products. When it comes to the actual application of fitting the product, we find that there is a lack of skills in the market. I would expect that we are in a position to start developing, upskilling and training people at this level so we don’t end up with a scenario where we have an offering in the market that has had a lot of effort put into it, but when it comes to the installation/the application, it doesn’t do it justice.

I definitely see the community plumbing challenges and plumbing skills demonstrations that will be running alongside the conference as a valuable chance to upskilling the industry.

What African countries are you currently exporting to and how is this done?
Currently all our distribution is done through the Dawn venture. They have an existing footprint into Africa with distribution centres in these countries already. We currently operate in various African countries, including all our immediate neighbours – from Mozambique on the one side to Namibia on the other. Then we also go further inland to Tanzania, Malawi, right through to the Indian Ocean islands – Mauritius and the Seychelles. Internally, we also go into Lesotho.

This is all backed up by a technical staff complement who put a lot of effort into the specification side of the business. We have a team of experts who periodically go out and spend time with the end users, the architects, as well as the distribution centres to communicate with the industry and to transfer the knowledge and awareness of our product.

Delegates coming from Africa can have a certain amount of comfort in knowing that there is this level of technical support for the product range.

The Plumbing Institute Registration Board (PIRB) is the host of WPC – how should PIRB and the Institute of Plumbing SA (IOPSA) be taking advantage of such a rare opportunity?
It certainly is a fantastic opportunity that you have and it comes around very seldom. To be able to host an event of this nature in South Africa will give all players in the market an opportunity to showcase their ranges while also bringing the manufacturers and end-users together.

Why would potential delegates attend WPC?
It affords everybody the opportunity to experience the local content as well as international content first hand, getting better insight into best practises and how things work here.

In closing
Vaal is in a very exciting position at the moment through our relationship with Grohe, forming part of a bigger entity as part of a world player. This will give us the opportunity to develop Vaal (and other subsidiary companies) to the level of an international player. We will be able to develop our offerings in line with world’s best practise and price it accordingly, not to mention take our product and move it into an international environment. These are exciting times!

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Conference / exhibition bookings:
Mari Macnamara: +27(0) 11 579 4940 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Online registration (click here)

Transfers / tours bookings details:
Helen: +27(0)82 562 2260 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Pia: +27(0)79 532 1219 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stefvan Stemmet: +27(0)21 492 2203 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Interact Media Defined (Pty) Ltd (IMD) has been appointed to organise the event.

WPC 2016 Strategic Organising Committee
Lee Goldie – Chairperson, Larry Berger, Herman Lourens, Henry Soden, Robbie Webb, Gary Macnamara