The Past, Present & Future of the Water Industry 💧 with Noel McKay from Jonoco

The Digital Tradie Podcast | Episode 9

G’day Legends!

In the latest episode of “The Digital Tradie,” I had an absolute ripper of a chat with Noel McKay from Jonoco. Noel’s been in the water industry for over three decades, and let me tell you, he’s got some cracking stories and top-notch advice that only someone with his experience could share.

A Journey Spanning Over 32 Years

Noel’s journey in the water industry is nothing short of legendary. Starting back in the day when word-of-mouth was the main way to get work, Noel shared how Jonoco managed to thrive without traditional advertising for over 32 years. It’s a testament to the power of quality workmanship and the rock-solid reputation Jonoco has built over the years.

Unforgettable Poo Stories

One of the best parts of our conversation was hearing Noel’s hilarious and somewhat messy on-the-job stories. From diving into waist-deep sewage to unblocking pumps to apprentices standing on the crust of sewage lagoons, these stories painted a vivid picture of the unexpected humour and challenges in the water industry. It’s these yarns that make the industry both demanding and endlessly entertaining.

The Impact of Privatisation

Noel also gave us the lowdown on the impact of privatisation (by the Kennett Government in 1992) on the water industry. He detailed the significant changes that occurred when public entities like the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works were privatised. This shift brought about a range of challenges and opportunities, especially in how services were delivered and the importance of keeping a skilled workforce.

Training the Next Generation

A critical point Noel hammered home was the importance of training the next generation of tradies. With a noticeable gap in apprenticeships over the years, Noel advocates for more robust training programmes to ensure the industry continues to thrive. He shared Jonoco’s commitment to hiring and training apprentices, reflecting on the long-term benefits it brings to both the company and the industry.

Since 1990, realistically the amount of apprentices that have been put through by the major contractors is frankly crap.

Noel McKay – Jonoco

Embracing Innovation and Diversification

In our discussion, we also touched on how Jonoco has embraced innovation and diversified its services. From integrating advanced project management tools like Aroflo to acquiring specialised businesses, Jonoco has continually adapted to meet the evolving needs of the industry. This approach not only keeps the business competitive but also ensures they can offer comprehensive solutions to their clients.

The Importance of Websites for Tradies

We all know that having a solid online presence is crucial these days, and Noel’s story really drives that home. For years, Jonoco got by on reputation alone, but as times changed, so did their approach. Having a professional website is like having an extra team member working 24/7. It showcases your services, builds credibility, and helps potential clients find you easily. Trust me, having an AWESOME Website for Tradies can make all the difference in landing that next big job.

A Look to the Future

Looking ahead, Noel is optimistic about the future of the water industry. Despite the challenges posed by cost optimisation and the need for ongoing training, he sees a future filled with opportunities for those willing to adapt and innovate. Jonoco’s story is a perfect example of how dedication, quality, and a willingness to embrace change can lead to sustained success.


This episode with Noel McKay was a ripper – full of laughs, insights, and practical advice. It’s clear that the water industry, while often overlooked, plays a crucial role in our daily lives. I hope this conversation inspires you as much as it did me, shedding light on the importance of the past, present, and future of the water industry.

Stay tuned for more episodes of “The Digital Tradie” where we continue to bring you stories and insights from the frontline of the trades.

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David List

G'day ya LEGEND! I'm an Tradie of almost 20 years (sparky to be exact), who started to make videos on YouTube, TikTok and LinkedIn, as a way of passing on my knowledge. One thing lead to another and I realised I could make more impact helping Tradies with my own business. So, LIST Media and Trade Magnet were born! Helping Tradies Convert with Online Content.

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