Former Redcar & Cleveland College student, Phil Tempest, recently featured in local newspapers, including the Northern Echo and the Evening Gazette, for successfully starting his own plumbing business after being made redundant from the Steelworks in 2015.
We caught up with Phil, who studied Level 2 Plumbing at the College in 2005, to discuss his apprenticeship, why he returned to plumbing after working at the Steelworks and his plans for the future now that he is self-employed.
Why did you decide to apply for a plumbing apprenticeship?
I was 17 and decided that I wanted to develop my skills in plumbing whilst learning-on-the-job. An apprenticeship was the best option for me to do this. I found a job with a local employer and studied at the College on day-release.
I gained so much experience when working on site and the skills I developed during my apprenticeship are skills that I use on a day-to-day basis now in my own business.
Would you recommend a plumbing apprenticeship to others?
Definitely – plumbing is an industry that you should definitely consider going in to. The skills that you develop in this trade are invaluable. After being made redundant from the Steelworks in November 2015, I found a new job within two weeks and got straight back into work because of my trade.
I think that it is always good to have a trade behind you and the experience you gain in an apprenticeship is brilliant. You get a bit of money up front and then the skill you have is for life. I started my plumbing at college, but I have learnt so much more now. I have gone on to working in bathrooms from start to finish, such as ripping bathrooms out, tiling and fitting new suites, so it does help.
What encouraged you to go self-employed and start up PT Bathrooms and Plumbing?
It is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I knew I wanted to work for myself, but after being made redundant, we had my son, Sonny, and the money was never there for me to progress with the business.
We researched into it and found the SSI Task Force’s Business Start Up Scheme. With the help of the SSI Task Force, I started planning my business in November 2017, whilst I was still working full-time. I was setting up regular meetings and arranging my business plan, because you have to provide documentation for what you would like the money for and how you would use it.
I received a SSI Task Force grant in January to set up PT Bathrooms and Plumbing. The grant meant that I could buy a van and the tools I needed to get started. The business was properly set up by the end of March, so it didn’t take that long. It is definitely worth looking into for those who are considering starting up their own business.
Have you enjoyed having your own business so far?
Yeah it is brilliant. At the minute, I can plan when I want to work, how long for and what days.
I thought that running my own business was going to be stressful, but I have found that I am so much more laid back. It may stress me if the business goes quiet, but it has been great so far. I never thought that I would actually do it, but I just went for it and it’s been the best thing that I have done.
What are your aims for the future?
I’ve had my business nearly four months now, so I want the business to succeed and to continue to grow. If I get through my first year, I will definitely be looking to take on an apprentice. It would be good to put something back in and help someone get into the industry, because it was a great opportunity for me. I can train someone up, who can help me out and gain experience at the same time.
In the long-term, I would like to look into employing more people and getting my own showroom. I still keep in touch with the employers who took me on as an apprentice and I visit their showroom. This is definitely encouraging me to develop my business further in the future.
To find out more about the Apprenticeship Courses that we offer at Redcar & Cleveland College, please visit https://www.cleveland.ac.uk/apprenticeships/courses/
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