Episode 47 - A Traditional Family Business Working in an Age of Technology with James Dickson

In this episode of the Build Hatch Podcast, we had the opportunity to hear from James Dickson from Somerville Plaster.  

In this episode we talk about: 

  • James grew up in Somerville VIC and shares a typical day in the life of James as a plasterer, residing in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula of Victoria.

  • Growing up James’ father (and grandfather) were also plasterers and he always had aspirations to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the family business.  

  • At the end of grade 10, James received an apprenticeship with a carpenter mainly working on decks and pergolas.  Knowing he was going into a trade he finished his schooling at grade 10.  

  • After finishing his carpentry apprenticeship James started to work weekends with his dad (who James refers to as Ronnie) hanging plaster and learning the craft. He fell in love with the work and the idea of being part of the family business.  

  • Teamwork is required to be a successful plasterer when you are hanging 6-meter sheets of plaster and gyprock.

  • The difference between a ‘hanger’ and a ‘finisher’ in the world of plastering.  

  • James has recognised the value of sticking to what you know. The delivery and hanging of his are subcontracted, and in doing this James can keep his costs low and consistent.  

  • Working in the family business with Ron and mum Karyn, and value of the family dynamic.  

  • When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life – this is true for James each day.  

  • James’ passion for plaster is revealed as he describes how plastering transforms a house from a worksite to a home.  

  • 3 years ago, James started an Instagram account and intentionally networked to create his own connections.  

  • Now 4 years on, 80% of the work that comes through the door is from Instagram and James explains how this happened.  

  • James gives his top tips for marketing on Instagram and why every trade should be doing it.  

  • James has two skillsets - carpentry and plastering. This is a huge advantage as he can find (and resolve) issues prior to the plaster being hung.  

  • Sommerville Plaster’s process of estimating a plastering job and the changes they have implemented.  

  • James has a crew of 10 guys and shares his tips for managing staff and, knowing when to put on an extra set of hands.  

  • Water and plaster do not mix, and James shares some horror stories.  

  • Curves are in fashion and James explains the process of double wrapping on a curved wall.  

  • The future for Somerville Plaster. 

Sit back and enjoy this helpful interview with James Dickson from Somerville Plaster. 


Somerville Plaster

Follow @somervilleplaster on Instagram

Follow @Build Hatch on Instagram

Contact Aaron Kyle

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Credits: Podcast Produced by Pretty Podcasts

Build Hatch Podcast Soundtrack Title: “Ride It Like You Mean It”. Artist Name: Kristian Leo. Written By: Evert Zeevalkink. Published by Soundstripe Productions.