In this episode of the Kloodle podcast, I interview Charlie Mullins, Founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers. Charlie started out life as an apprentice plumber, and subsequently built up his business, Pimlico Plumbers, to become a multi-millionaire.
Charlie’s life started out on a rough estate in London. He honed his business mentality here by providing services to residents and local shopkeepers, such as running errands and helping with ‘bag wash’. During this time, he honed an ability to find out exactly what people want, how to provide it for them and charging a fair price for his services.
Charlie subsequently went on to help out a local plumber. This experience had a life changing impact. Charlie was hooked on the idea of a “job for life” and the well paid nature of a job in the trades had to offer. After this experience, he became an apprentice plumber.
During this time, Charlie also excelled at his other passion; Boxing. He threw himself into the sport with gusto, applying a work ethic that was later to serve him well in business. Charlie almost joined the professional ranks when a setback struck. Filling in for an injured team mate, Charlie discovered one of sport’s harshest lessons: there’s always someone out there who is better than you. He was subsequently knocked out, hitting his head on the apron of the ring in the process. This led to a serious case of concussion, and the sport’s governing body revoking his licence. An interesting story told in Charlie’s book describes how he fought this decision, utilising the services of neurologist Sir Roger Bannister, of four-minute-mile fame.
Despite this setback, Charlie threw himself back into plumbing with renewed vigour. Due to the fitness he acquired through boxing, Charlie was able to work more, faster than other plumbers in the area. He set about building up a reputation as an honest plumber who provided an exceptional service. Demand for Charlie ultimately outstripped supply, and Charlie began to take on other plumbers, building the business that would become Pimlico Plumbers.
In this podcast, we discuss how Charlie built up his business, the trials he faced and how he overcame them to become a success. We also discuss how his formative years on a rough London estate shaped his mentality, and how he used the motivation of becoming successful to get himself off the estate, a feat that was rarely achieved by others.
The podcast is full of lessons about how to build a business, a career and how to motivate others to build a great company. Charlie discusses the importance of work ethic, providing a great service and being clear in your expectations of the people you employ.
We also discuss the value of apprenticeships. As a former apprentice plumber who has gone on to achieve great things, Charlie is a huge advocate of this route into the workplace. We discuss how the current government is championing apprenticeships, how Charlie and Pimlico Plumbers are involved in this, and what we as a nation can do to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. As someone who has taken this route and achieved success, Charlie speaks with authority and inspiration on the subject. If you are a young person listening to this part of the podcast, you will be struck by how much you can achieve with a little work ethic, imagination and ability to work with and inspire others.
Charlie currently has a book out – aptly titled “Bog Standard Business”. The book elaborates on many of the points Charlie makes in this podcast, and is required reading. There are many hidden lessons for anybody wanting to start their own business, and I plan to write more about these in a later post.
As ever, you can comment on this podcast below, or tweet us @KloodleUK. Enjoy the podcast!