Charlie Mullins – the story of a millionaire plumber

As we count down to Thrive! London, we take a look at the story behind one of the entrepreneur panellists taking part – Charlie Mullins the man behind the multi-million pound turnover Pimlico Plumbers.

24th February 2010 at 10:11 am

Like many a self-made millionaire, Charlie Marlins, the man who’s been dubbed the plumber to the stars thanks to the celebrity studded client list of his company Pimlico Plumbers, started out in business with virtually nothing.

Born in Camden, Charlie left school at 15 with no qualifications, but a passion for boxing.

Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers

'The way we run the business isn’t rocket science it’s common sense. The only problem is that common sense ain’t that common,' says Charlie Mullins

Until the age of 21 he was a talented amateur boxer who represented London and clearly demonstrated the determination, discipline and attention to detail which have become some of the hallmarks of the success of Pimlico Plumbers which he founded in the basement of an estate agent back in 1979.

Charlie’s plumbing career started after he left school when he gained City and Guilds qualifications and become an apprentice. Indeed apprenticeships and the issue of youth unemployment remain an issue he’s passionate about.

By 1986 Pimlico Plumbers reached the magic £1 million turnover mark and has been growing ever since. With turnover now at £15 million the business employs more than 155 people and carries out over 1,200 jobs a week.

When asked why he thinks the business has been so successful, Charlie makes it clear that obsessive focus on customers has been key as well as a determination to create a service that’s professional and counter to the negative experiences many have of tradesman.

As he says:

There are far too many cowboys and shoddy tradesmen out there. I believe that we have set new standards and raised the public’s perception of the trade.

And Charlie has certainly done himself and his business no harm by making the most of media opportunities. He’s appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, and is a regular commentator on small business issues online and in the national press.

To hear from the man himself and pick his brains on what it takes to grow a business, don’t forget you can still get free tickets to Thrive! London on Thursday 25th February. Click here and enter the discount code ‘smallbizpod’.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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