He is oftentimes referred to as Britain’s richest plumber. In fact, he may even be the world’s richest plumber. Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers, has proven what a determined plumber and his wrench can really do. Charlie came from a working-class background but is now a millionaire.
Once a sole trader, now Charlie Mullins oversees a plumbing empire that has more than 200 employees and annual revenue of better than $30 million. The idea of becoming a plumber came at an early age for Charlie and while others may have been dreaming of becoming astronauts or rock stars, Charlie says his first inspiration came at the age of 9 from of all people, a local plumber.
“I remember in my childhood meeting a local plumber who really inspired me,” says Charlie. “He was popular, and earned more money on a single job than my father who worked in a factory did in a week.” From an early age, Charlie was serious about his future.
Charlie established Pimlico Plumbers back in 1979 at the age of just 25. He left school at the age of 15 and with no formal education began his career as a plumber. But Charlie was not going to be just your average run-of-the-mill plumber.
"I set out to change the image of the plumbing industry and get rid of the stigma associated with it, i.e plumbers who turn up late, driving rusty old vans, not wearing uniform, arses hanging out their trousers, bad workmanship and ripping off the customer," says Charlie.
The best part of Charlie’s success, he did it all without any outside financing, not even from his bank. Says Charlie, “I have banked with our current bank since 1990, I have never met my bank manager and never will.” Charlie comes from the old school of business: if you don’t have it, don’t spend it.
One of the things Charlie is most passionate about is investing in his employees, especially the younger ones. In a world where increasingly the belief is that there is no opportunity, Charlie wants his young employees to know that hard work and dedication to the job does pay off.
For Charlie, the secret to his success is hard work and investing back into the business. Some of his plumbers even make in excess of $150,000 per year.
“I am often asked what the secret of our success is,” says Charlie. There is no magic formula, it’s just doing the basics and doing it well. “Our motto is ‘keep it simple’. Our business has been built upon a common set of values and they are, great service, our people dress smart and are well presented, we always turn up on time and tidy up after ourselves.”
It looks like not only has all the hard work and traditional business ethic paid off, it is continuing to do so. Charlie estimates growth this year at 6 percent of the total British marketplace.