Wellington Gold:TOM WILLIAMS



So, let’s get started with the simple stuff. Who is Tom Williams?

I am 29 years young and live in the mighty Hutt Valley, north of Wellington. I have lived in the vibrant valley all my life with the family. I am a serial socialiser who can’t say no to a couple of beers around a BBQ, golf with the boys, or taking my best mate, Goldie (aptly named after my favourite beer – Export Gold), for a walk.
I’m a plumber/gasfitter and owneroperator of TomGas. TomGas has been going for 6 years, and I just took on my first apprentice, Hunter. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to share what I have learned over my 12 years and bring some young blood into the industry. Wellington isn’t known for its warmth, so I specialise in gas central heating, specifically, Braemar ducted heating systems. We also do a lot of high-end bathrooms and full renovation packages. I know tradesmen get a bad rap for terrible comms – but it’s one thing I pride myself on (and something all of my customers comment on).

Why did you decide to become a tradie?

I knew when I was skipping IT to sneak off to tech class and finish off projects, I wouldn’t be working in an office. I enjoy working with my hands and have many fond memories working with the old man. In hindsight, I have followed in his footsteps to a degree as he was also a plumber/gasfitter. When I’m not working, I’m renovating the house or doing something with my hands in some way, shape or form (although I never seem to get to the bottom of the to-do list with the missus and family constantly adding to it!).

So, fishing and golfing are your fave offsite activities – what’s their appeal?

Their appeal is similar in a lot of ways – being active outdoors, and taking my mind off work and the other bits and pieces life throws at you. Some (Brooke) might say fishing and golf take all day, and they are, therefore, a convenient excuse to skip work or jobs around the house! Catching a kingi at sunrise in Welly Harbour would have to be one of my favourite memories in my boat Tail Chaser. Golf has taken up the lion’s share of my time recently. It’s such a challenging game and something so hard to be good at.

So, you’re based in Welly. What do you like about living there?

It may sound cliché, but you really can’t beat Welly on a good day! I’m close with my family and friends, and with Mum just around the corner that’s always a good bet for a decent feed! A lot of my friends are tradies who run their own companies, and it’s been bloody good to build stronger relationships to help offer all of our customers a better service. Being close to my mates is important. Life is changing as we’re getting older, especially with engagements, weddings and a few of the boys slipping one past the goalkeeper (me included) having babies/making young caddies.

Paint us a picture - describe your perfect day.

A perfect day would be waking up knowing I had a morning tee time booked in with the fellas. Brooke (the missus) has cooked an eggs bene with all the trimmings – don’t forget a hot chocolate to wash down! I meet the boys at the golf course, we are all playing to our handicaps, maybe I’m playing slightly better... and we celebrate with a cold one and a slap on the pokies at the local pub afterwards. All of the above happening on a beaut day (without getting sunburnt).

What makes you feel more alive than anything else?

Playing a par-3 with the boys and flushing an 8-iron onto the green tighter than any of them.

What will you always buy, regardless of how much it costs?

Mizones. Crisp Apple Mizones. One a day keeps the doctor away.

What’s been your closest brush with death?

When I was younger and dumber, a bunch of friends and I went to Taupo for a mate’s birthday. A plan was hatched to enjoy the sunny afternoon floating around the lake with a few cold ones. We picked up some $20 inflatable boats, and there we were, no more than 100m offshore, having a great time. The beers ran out so we paddled in and went back for a second drift. After a half hour, an offshore breeze had picked up and we noticed we were a bit further out than we would have liked. The wind was building as we were trying to paddle in with these shitty paddles that were flying to bits. Luckily, one of the boys swam ashore and was able to call the Coastguard. We were rescued four hours later around midnight, bloody cold in the pitch black, 4km offshore... there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for the Coastguard. ‘Nothing is faster than disaster’ rang true that day.

If you had to pick a couple of people who have been the most influential in your life/career, who would they be, and why?

Gotta be laser-eye Mike – my old man – as he showed me the ropes. From building a deck at 13 years old to helping with renovations at my first house. There was no job too big or small – he was always there to help.

What profession would you pursue if you couldn’t do what you do now?

Sparkie – they get paid plenty and you never see them doing much hard graft on site.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your journey into the trades?

Measure twice, cut once.

Consider the trades industry as we currently know it. Is there anything we could/should be doing better?

Putting on my business owner hat – there are a couple of challenges. Starting and then running a business is hard, and I feel a lot of people head into the trades with the goal of owning their own business. I mean, I can answer the phone, quote jobs, do the work, send an invoice – that’s the basics. As I’ve started to expand, how do I know which jobs are more profitable than others? What about employment contracts and payroll? There just seems to be so much to learn, and it would be great to have more resources or training around that side of things.
On a more industry-specific level, there’s uncertainty about the future of natural gas in NZ. Many homes use gas for their water heating, general heating and cooking appliances, and the industry feels demonised. There are greener options (biogas or hydrogen) plus an existing infrastructure network. It would be great to see a clear plan around a managed transition to give consumers confidence.

What’s the best place you’ve been and why?

Vegas – the reasons are selfexplanatory – although I wouldn’t recommend going for more than four days…
Someone steals your Spotify login details. What music are they finding? Kiwi vibes on repeat – Six60, Coterie, Mako Road etc. Great chilled-out tunes. Also, Mr Big, ‘To Be With You’ is my karaoke go to!

Last one – what’s the title of your autobiography?

Do your best, silicone the rest.