What got you into the industry?
There was no grand plan, I just sort of fell into it when I left school. I went to my local college to get my plumbing and heating qualifications and then got an apprenticeship with a large firm in Nottingham specialising in council housing contracts. Every day was the same – fitting exactly the same type of central heating system into exactly the same type of house. I found it a bit boring at the time but it was really good experience. When I left there I worked for several smaller firms before taking a job as a heating and plumbing engineer for a large building company in the area and I stayed with them for a number of years. Then, about 16 years ago, I decided it was time to strike out on my own and I set up MB Plumbing and Heating with my wife Julie who runs the admin side of the business. Based in Arnold in Nottinghamshire, the company is fully certified with the Gas Safe, Water Regulations and Solar Accredited Installer schemes.
Has your business focus changed over the years?
I now focus more on central heating repairs and servicing contracts, mainly for the customers I’ve built up over the years. However, I still offer a wide range of other services, including general plumbing, from replacing a leaking pipe right through to new bathroom installations, and as a HETAS registered installer I can provide a complete supply and fit package for log burning stoves.
How do you go about choosing the products you install?
Whatever the job, using products that I can rely on is important for my business reputation and for my customers’ peace of mind. That’s why when it comes to boilers I’m a big fan of Vaillant and for heating controls it has to be Danfoss. I know some installers don’t specify brands when they quote for a job but my customers have told me that they appreciate the fact that I specify Danfoss TRVs, for example, because it shows I have confidence in that particular brand. Also, as a member of the Danfoss #CapClub I’ve got bespoke radiator valve caps with my company name on them, which I feel gives me a real professional edge.
You support the ‘Heat for Good’ heating industry collective. What does that involve?
I’ve been only too pleased to be part of heating installations and upgrades for community projects such as a local Let's Play centre for disabled children and the Clayton Rugby League Football Club, an amateur rugby league club in Bradford. They are great causes and I had no hesitation in giving up my time for free to install the equipment that had been kindly donated by manufacturers and suppliers. It is very rewarding to know that you can make a difference to these projects and the communities who use them.
What changes have you seen during your career, and what do you see as the next big thing in the industry?
Mitigating the impact of climate change is clearly the major driver for many new developments in the heating sector. With gas boilers likely to be phased out, hydrogen appliances could be the next step towards reducing carbon emissions from our homes. We are also seeing a big increase in renewable energy, particularly for new builds. Hundreds of new homes in my area are being fitted with solar panels or air source heat pumps, for example, which is why I believe it’s important for heating engineers like me to develop the skills that will be needed to maintain these systems now and in the future. Social media has been another significant development since I started out in the industry over 30 years ago. Personally, I find it’s a great way to communicate with other installers, promote my business achievements, keep up to date with new products and to share knowledge.
Mitigating the impact of climate change is clearly the major driver for many new developments. Hundreds of new homes in my area are being fitted with solar panels or air source heat pumps.
How do you spend your downtime?
My family and I like to go camping and my son Morgan and I enjoy surfing in the Lake District and Cornwall. We also share a love of BMX Gold bikes and have fun searching out parts to rebuild them. We are a successful family firm and I’m hoping Morgan will follow in my footsteps and join the business when he’s old enough, and with the same initials as me, we won’t have to change the company name – that’s forward thinking for you!