On this edition of #ApprenticeStories , we look at Charlie Mullins, a former plumbing apprentice who went on to create the UK’s first branded plumbing company, Pimlico Plumbers. Here is how Charlie went from a plumbing apprentice, to quite possibly the most famous plumber around today.
At nine years old, Charlie had his first experience of the plumbing industry. He saw that his local plumber, ‘was well respected, had a great lifestyle and money.’ He didn’t need any more encouragement than that, and so he left school when he was 15 years old, with no qualifications to his name.
He would move on from school and become an apprentice. It would be a four-year apprenticeship in plumbing, which made sense because he was clearly passionate about the industry. His career would start with a second-hand van and a bag of tools, and would lead to owning a company with a turnover of at least £20 million.
Let’s talk about that successful company. To summarise, Pimlico Plumbers has built up a reputation for a quality and trustworthy service over the last 30 years. Since being established in 1979, the company has provided a vast range of services, including drainage work, heating, obviously plumbing, and many more. It has 160 company vehicles operating primarily in the London area, sporting the blue, white and red colour scheme associated with the Pimlico brand. These aren’t your stereotypical plumbers, who arrive late to appointments, have no uniform and rip off customers. Through Charlie Mullins’ leadership, these guys are the real deal, with rave reviews online. There services haven’t just benefited the general public, but even celebrity clientele. Simon Cowell, Dame Helen Mirren, Kiera Knightly, Daniel Craig and even Richard Branson to name a few.
The success of his plumbing firm, resulted in him being awarded an OBE in 2014. He was awarded this for the services that he has offered to the plumbing trade. Charlie described the moment he found out as, ‘the first time in my life I was lost for words.’ To be awarded an OBE by the Queen, really is a huge honour that only a select few can shout about.
Charlie Mullins is even an advocate for apprenticeships in general. He believes that to reach their full potential, young people need to be given a chance to develop their skills, which is exactly what apprenticeships are about.
Charlie is an example of another individual who used the basics of an apprenticeship to go far in his career. Leaving school at 15 with no qualifications didn’t stop him from pursuing his passion for plumbing, and becoming the country’s most well-known plumber. Despite not operating in Manchester like ourselves at The Academy, it isn’t unrealistic to imagine the distinctive blue, white and red vans roaming our streets in the near future to fix our broken boilers.