Damien Schmude is what we call a new age plumber. Not only does he encourage sustainability, but he also lives in what is perhaps the first ever passive built home in Armidale.
My wife Nat is a Respiratory Clinical Nurse Consultant and is a really dedicated mother to our three boys. William is 7 and in Year two at St Mary’s; he loves his sport and being active, he always wants to be in the truck with me helping out.
George is 6 and is in kindergarten at St Mary’s. He, too, loves his sport. However, he is more interested in his DS or the Wii than working with me. Arthur who is 2 and goes to a wonderful family day care mum, has turned out just as boisterous as the other two and is a very active little fellow.
Both Nat and I have grown up in Armidale and are fortunate enough to have both of our parents living here. I also have my 3 brothers and their families in Armidale. However, Nat’s sister and her family live in Paris. We love living in and bringing our family up in such a supportive and caring community.
Memorable moments growing up?
Where do I start? In the Schmude household, there was never a dull moment. Armidale was a wonderful town to grow up in.
We were surrounded by great families in our neighbourhood, and there was always an adventure to be had. I have very fond memories of backyard cricket or rugby matches, where Paul and Marty would play against Dave and myself and Dad would be the umpire.
Mum would always have to be either calling the glass company to replace broken windows or comforting the losers, who would usually be Paul and Marty!
When and why did you decide to become a plumber?
Nat and I had returned to Armidale in 2002. I had been working as a childcare worker for 6 years and decided I would like a change. A local plumber approached me and offered me an apprenticeship, so my life as a plumber began – I am grateful for having been given that opportunity.
Over the 8 years I have been plumbing, I have met and worked with many great people, and I enjoy the trade and the versatility it offers. Where does the name Four Elements come from?
We started throwing a few names around like The Three Kings (after the boys). And then Marty, my youngest brother, sent us an email with the idea of four elements. From this we used the four basic elements of nature – earth, water, air and fire – as they describe the fundamentals of my trade as a plumber, and then we added the further analogies of prompt, efficient, reliable and friendly service. And from this Schmude Four Elements Plumbing was created.
Tell us more about your new plumbing company?
I started the business on 29 November 2010, as a sole trader. One week into operating, I realised I needed an offsider, so my father-in-law Trev started working with me. Trev has such a wealth of knowledge and has the added experience of having run his own business – he is a real asset to Four Elements Plumbing.
I have recently put on Jimmy O’Brien as a school based apprentice; Jimmy is in Year 10 at O’Connor and is a very well presented young lad who shows maturity and initiative beyond his years. The Four Elements Plumbing team is well balanced with experience, knowledge and enthusiasm, which means I can keep the business running to a high professional standard.
I have a state of the art sewer inspection system with a high pressure jetter and colour CCTV, which enable me to quickly assess problems and fix them efficiently. I also enjoy working on renovations – Nat and I renovated our house, and I understand how difficult but rewarding it can be. I like working with the owners to plan changes or enhance what is already available.
Are you into sustainability?
Yes, I think we all need to be into sustainability for our future generations. Nat and I purchased one of the first solar passive houses in Armidale and have set it up with further sustainable living systems such as solar hot water and water conservation devices.
We also have our chooks, vegie patches and fruit and nut trees. In my plumbing business, I advocate solar hot water systems, grey water systems and water conservation devices, and I am happy to offer advice in these areas.
What advice do you have for people considering a plumbing career?
Go for it. It is a diverse industry with many different avenues, and you get to meet and work with lots of interesting people.
Plans for the future?
I plan on growing with the business as it evolves and continuing to provide a high standard of service. I will also continue enjoying my work/family balance, which is the benefit of owning your own business.
Finally, I would like to thank all of my customers who’ve supported me so far.Thanks Damien.