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Bradley meets Charlie Mullins
Entrepreneur

Bradley meets Charlie Mullins | Kidspiration

Learning how to fix things is an important part of growing up and becoming independent. And learning how to fix things, especially things most people don’t want to touch, can turn into a good career. Just ask Charlie Mullins.

Mr. Mullins grew up in a rough part of London. After leaving school when he was 15, he went to work, following the advice from a childhood mentor. He finished a four-year apprenticeship in plumbing, then bought an old van and some old tools. He was ready to fix broken toilets, sinks, showers—anything his skills and hard work could get running again.

He started Pimlico Plumbers in 1979. Because he didn’t like seeing rusty old trucks and plumbers in grease-stained clothes, he decided his plumbers would drive bright blue vans and wear clean uniforms. Today Pimlico has over 200 workers, 160 trucks, and is London’s largest independent plumbing and service company.

But Mr. Mullins hasn’t forgotten how he got his start. Pimlico employs its own apprentices and participates in the Just the Job work placement program of the Prince’s Trust. “My early experiences as an apprentice shaped my life and success,” he said in a startups.co.uk interview.

Now he’s helping young people learn how to pick up a wrench and get that leaky loo back in business.

In this Episode, Bradley interviews Charlie Mullins at Pimlico Plumbers headquarters, London.

 



Charlie:
Sort your hair out.

Bradley:
I know, I know.

Charlie:
Tidy up.

Bradley:
Bit of a bad hair day.

Charlie:
Eh?

Bradley:
Bit of a bad hair day.

Charlie:
No, it looks good.

Bradley:
Hi, my name’s Bradley and today I’m going to speak with Charlie Mullins, he’s the multi-millionaire boss of Pimlico Plumbers and from humble beginnings, he’s done very well for himself. Let’s go and meet him.

—-

Hi Charlie, my name is Bradley and do you mind telling me a little bit about what you do?

Charlie:
What I do?

Bradley:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Don’t you know what I do?

Bradley:
No.

Charlie:
I’m a plumber, I run a plumbing company, the most famous plumbing company in the world, and the largest plumbing company in the UK.

Bradley:
So why plumbing?

Charlie:
When I was at school, nine years of age, I didn’t like school. I mean, absolutely hated it.

Bradley:
Who does?

Charlie:
Well there you go. We’re drinking from the same teapot here, Bradley.

Bradley:
Yeah.

Charlie:
So there was a plumber in the area and he had a motorbike, he had a car, he had lots of money, nice house, nice clothes, and went on holiday. And I never had no money, never had two bob, you know. I don’t know which background you come from but I came from a really poor background. But you look a bit wealthy to me. So he had all these nice things and he said to me: “If you become a plumber, an apprentice plumber, you’ll have loads of money and you’ll never be out of work.” And I thought “That’s a great idea.” And so I used to bunk off school, help out this plumber and that’s got me where I am today.

Bradley:
So Charlie, have you ever made a mistake in the office? Like when you first started?

Charlie:
Yeah, lots of mistakes. A man that never made a mistake never made nothing. And you learn by your mistakes. And if you ever talk to anybody says they’ve never made a mistake then they’ve never made nothing, you know what I mean?

Bradley:
Yeah.

Charlie:
So loads of mistakes, yeah.

Bradley:
So what is success to you?

Charlie:
See, I’m thinking about that one, aren’t I?

Bradley:
Yeah.

Charlie:
‘Cause that’s not a simple question, you know? I think the fact that I’m recognised in the industry now as someone that’s achieved something, as someone that’s helping people. And getting a lot of people into work, you know I have my grandchildren work here – I know you’re thinking I’m not old enough but I am.

Bradley:
Yeah.

Charlie:
They work here now, my sons have worked here, and you know to have your family being able to come into the business and work with you I think is very rewarding.

—-

He’s a bit deaf, right? Greg?

Greg:
Hello.

Charlie:
All right, yeah, come over here. Greg’s job is to make sure all the vans are washed and he keeps all the fleet tidy and clean. And Bradley wants to be a boxer, do you remember when you used to be a boxer? Have a look at him.

Bradley:
Yeah, I reckon, maybe.

Charlie:
And do you know what, Bradley? He don’t like me telling anyone but he had 25 fights, 25 KO’s. That’s unbelievable, isn’t it?

Bradley:
Yeah, it’s unbelievable.

Charlie:
And then he won one.

[Laughter]

Greg:
You know your painters? Do you know about painters?

Charlie:
Yeah, my dad.

Greg:
Your dad?

Charlie:
My dad’s a painter.

Greg:
Your dad’s a painter?

Bradley:
Yeah.

Greg:
Do you remember Rembrandt?

Bradley:
No.

Greg:
Rembrandt, he was the finest painter years ago. Remember him, Charlie, yeah?

Charlie:
Yeah.

Greg:
That was his nickname, yeah, that was his nickname.

Charlie:
Now you’ve got to ask him why’s that.

Bradley:
Why is that?

Greg:
‘Cause he spent all the time on the canvas. He liked being on the canvas.

—-

Bradley:
So did you ever think that you got up to a point in your life where you weren’t going to make it as a plumber?

Charlie:
Yeah, loads of times. When I was an apprentice. I think an apprenticeship’s a great thing because they can’t get rid of you and you can’t walk out, see, because you signed a contract, an agreement for four years. And believe me, I wanted to walk out 1,000 times and they probably wanted to get rid of me 1,000 times. I wasn’t taking the plumbing serious enough until I put my mind to it. I mean, if I’d have not been a plumber, I don’t know what I would’ve been, probably an out of work boxer.

Bradley:
Yeah. So what advice would you give to kids my age about how to be successful?

Charlie:
What I would say is that to be successful it’s like making a cake. One of the ingredients is hard work, another ingredient is enthusiasm. You ain’t got to have brains to be successful, well you can see that. You can always buy brains, you know what I mean?

Bradley:
Yeah.

Charlie:
So but you can’t buy enthusiasm, you’ve got to want, will to want to succeed, you know what I mean? You’ve got to want to succeed and be as nice as you can to people, because what goes around comes around.
You’ve been interviewing me and I think you’ve done a great job.

Bradley:
Thank you.

Charlie:
You’ve shown a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of inspiration and I think you’ve done a great job.

Bradley:
Thank you, Charlie.

Charlie:
I was just going to ask you one question.

Bradley:
What?

Charlie:
Are you going to be successful in life?

Bradley:
Yes, I have the will to be successful and I have a mindset to want to be successful so I think I will be, yeah.

Charlie:
That’s it then.

Bradley:
All right, then, thank you.

Charlie:
That’s a great answer.

Bradley:
Thank you, Charlie.

Charlie:
You’ve done a good job.

Bradley:
Thank you.

—-

My experience with Charlie has been brilliant. He’s a top bloke, he showed me around his offices, and we even managed to share a cup of tea. Hope you enjoyed it, see you next time.