Russell van Hooff  has started his own small business, not letting his disability get in the way of finding employment.
Russell van Hooff has started his own small business, not letting his disability get in the way of finding employment. Boni Holmes

Finding the spark when there was no employment

RUSSELL van Hooff disability may have slowed him down but the sparky inside is still shining very bright.

Since falling out of work after 12 years as a electrical fitter mechanic and struggling with immense pain, Russell has taken the jump and started his own small business in electrical repairs.

Russell was diagnosed with spinal canal stenosis and has spent the better part of the last two years in and out of hospital.

"Spinal canal stenosis is a narrowing of the canal where the spinal cord goes which resulted in a great deal of pain and to carry myself in such a way that I basically exploded all my discs in my lower back," he said.

"I finally had surgery, removing all the offending discs.

"It has left me with nerve and balance issues which is why I walk around with a stick.

"I can walk around without it but just as soon as I try to do that my balance will go.

"This has affected all the muscles in my legs that control my balance."

Russell said it was no one event that triggered it.

"It was degenerative over the last 30-odd years where it has gotten worse.

"Everyone gets a sore back occasionally and you take no notice - or you do a bit of exercise, lose some weight and it goes away, but it was just getting worse and worse and I had no idea

"It wasn't until I got to a point where I couldn't stand up and walk, it was like someone had kneed me between my legs and I was doubled over it pain."

Russell staggered into the doctors with two walking sticks and after a few tests the discovery was made.

Previous to his present situation he worked with Berry's Electrical Service for 12 years and has been a qualified electrical fitter mechanic since 1985.

He said leaving Berry's was a sad time and he understood why employers chose not to employ him even though he felt someone with his qualifications shouldn't have any trouble finding work.

"Milestone Employment actually put me onto the idea of going out on my own - they offered me a free Certificate 4 in small business management course and to assist me while I get my business off the ground," Russell said.

"It will offer me something to fall back on over the nine months they offer to assist - its a great project."

Qualified electrican starts own small business: Russell van Hooff has not let a debilitating spinal injury stop him from finding employment.
Qualified electrican starts own small business: Russell van Hooff has not let a debilitating spinal injury stop him from finding employment.

The 53-year-old said he was not out to compete with the big guys and offered 30 years of experience.

"Some of the work an electrician does I have to put aside, so large wiring jobs, crawling through roofs is in the past for me now, I physically can't do it.

"But the likes of washing machines, dryers, dish washers, stoves, that sort of thing - I can handle that no problems at all - small job electrical repairs.

"I recently had a lady ring to have all the light bulbs changed to suitable LED lights.

"The problem of the power point that doesn't switch on and off properly - I can fix it cheaply.

"I will keep my prices down because I am working from home - I will charge $40 an hour which is affordable for people to have repairs done.

"I don't believe I am competing with anyone - I just want to find my little niche of jobs that most of electricians don't want to do."

To have Russell come out for a obligation free quote phone 0401 924 930 or rufl@westnet.com.au.