Apprentice Success Story for #ScotAppWeek21

March 4, 2021

Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which runs from 1-5 March, has the full support of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation (SNIPEF).

And according to SNIPEF chief executive, Fiona Hodgson, an excellent example of where qualifying as a plumber can take your career, and one that highlights the importance of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, is one of SNIPEF’s members, Borders-based, Ross Dickinson.

Ross, 45, a fully qualified plumber, left school with no qualifications. But today, thanks to a successful career stemming from the skills he acquired as a time-served plumber, he is the designer, developer and patent holder of the Kibosh, a rapid repair clamp and rapid pipe freezing clamp which helps tradespeople and householders solve the tricky problem of a burst pipe until a professional plumber can take over and finish the job permanently.

The Kibosh story began during the harsh winter of 2007, when Ross was called out to a customer’s house in Melrose being flooded by a burst pipe with no way of turning the water off.

“I got there, and the leaking pipe was clipped behind the kitchen units, I could get my hand to it but there was nothing I could do quickly or remotely easily with the pipe being where it was.

“After tracing the pipe back, I eventually found the shut off in the garage behind some boxes. That night I got home and said to myself, how come there’s not something simple to clamp onto the pipe to stop the water in these situations…and I had my Eureka moment.”

He went on to design, develop, and patent the Kibosh both as a rapid repair clamp and a rapid pipe freezing clamp. Both products are manufactured in Selkirk by local business, Cademuir Engineering Ltd.

“To test that the Kibosh worked, I built a thermal cycling rig in my living room, using my plumbing skills, and the Principal Engineer of British Standards (BSI) came to witness the testing. It really has been some journey”.

The patented Kibosh Pipe Repair Clamp is an instant and simple to use repair clamp for leaking metal, plastic, and multilayer pipes. It is re-useable, can withstand 10Bar/150psi pressure and can even accommodate some leaking pipe fittings. Once fitted, the pipe can continue to function under normal pressures and temperatures until a permanent repair can be made.

Ideal for all tradespeople: plumbers, joiners, builders, electricians, carpet fitters, as well as maintenance, janitorial and DIY enthusiasts who could perforate a pipe accidentally with a nail, drill, jigsaw or any other sharp power or hand tool, it can also be used by anyone who could potentially have a frost-damaged burst pipe.

Currently, Ross and his Walkerburn-based team are working to develop the Kibosh for Oil and Gas and industrial applications throughout the world.

Both repair and pipe freezing clamps are already available as Kibosh own-brand and Rothenberger-branded on Amazon, and from a range of UK plumbers’ merchants. The patented Kibosh device is soon to be stocked and sold by one of the largest US home improvement retailers across Texas and then, potentially, in its 2200 stores across North America.

Ross said: “After I left school I worked as a waiter and as a carpet salesman, but I felt I wasn’t going anywhere. I enrolled at Borders College, aged 25, on the full-time plumbing course, applied myself, and soon felt I had found my niche.

“Even though on the first day due to my level of my confidence because of dyslexia, I did not think I would be able to remember the different diameters of pipe, let alone all the other things on the course.

“A critical part of the course, and to be able to proceed to my second year was to line up a plumbing apprenticeship for the second year and when I discovered from a classmate the name of a plumbing business in Peebles who might take me on as an apprentice, it took all my courage to approach Mr Ronnie Walter, owner of RA Walter Plumbing & Heating.

“Fortunately, he said he would take me on, and so, with financial support also from SNIPEF, I started work and, to my surprise, was later named SNIPEF Apprentice of the Year.

“Today, twenty years later, I have worked in a series of plumbing-related roles, including being head plumber of a construction company, having my own plumbing business, Emerald Plumbing & Heating, and being employed also as Technical Manager of Rothenberger UK, one of the world's leading manufacturers of pipe tools and equipment.

“I am thankful every day that I was given the chance and the support to become a fully qualified plumber. My business, Kibosh Ltd was incorporated in 2009 and continues to be a long-term Associate Member of SNIPEF.

“So, in this Scottish Apprenticeship Week, I can thoroughly recommend a plumbing apprenticeship to anyone who wants a trade that is always in demand, provides a good living, and allows you to apply your skills to the benefit of every member of the community.

“Thanks to Ronnie Walter, Borders College and SNIPEF, my plumbing apprenticeship has given me all of these things and has allowed me to build my own successful business whilst doing a job I love.”

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