“Teachers always try to push you into IT or banking. I hated every lesson apart from metalwork, so I used to bunk off,” says the 54-year-old entrepreneur. From the age of nine, Mullins would skip lessons to help a local plumber with his work in west London. “He seemed to be the richest man in the area, with the nicest car. He inspired me to get into the plumbing industry.” Mullins went on to complete a four-year apprenticeship, then set up Pimlico Plumbers in 1979. “I had no financial backing. It was just me, my bag of tools and an old van bought at auction. It was difficult to establish myself in the early days because of my age but I worked hard and ploughed all the money back into the business. “I’m not a great lover of private equity and I hate bankers. Don’t let them control your business – they’re crooks in suits.” Pimlico Plumbers now has more than 120 professional plumbers on its payroll and a support team of around 30 staff. Mullins is keen to train more aspiring plumbers. “My dream is to build our own in-house training centre, and we’re already speaking to a local college about our plans. "Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be a brain surgeon.” This interview is part of the My First Million series that Real Business is running in association with Orange. Look out for the full article in the April edition of Real Business magazine.
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