- 13 Jul 2022
- René Armas Maes
- Aircraft Ownership
Find out how Charlie Mullins – a man who built a plumbing empire on simple, honest principles – realized the benefits of private jets, becoming a repeat charter user. Fabrizio Poli caught up with him in a recent interview...
Charlie Mullins wasn’t born into money. He’s the son of a factory worker father and his mother worked as a cleaner. When he was born, they rented a couple of rooms in Camden, UK, before moving to the Rockingham Estate in London's Elephant and Castle.
At the tender age of ten, Charlie used to miss a few days of school to help Bill, his local plumber. As it turned out, Charlie was a natural in the trade, and, having developed a talent for plumbing he left school aged 15 and gained City and Guilds qualifications to become an apprentice plumber.
Before long, Charlie had set-up shop as a sole trader in the Pimlico area of London, building a plumbing empire in London called Pimlico Plumbers, which, after forty years in business, he recently sold for over £145m ($170m) to American home services provider, Neighborly.
The secrets to Charlie’s success in building Pimlico Plumbers is a combination of common sense and out-of-the-box thinking – he makes it clear that obsessive focus on customers has been key, as has a determination to create a service that’s professional and counter to the negative experiences many have of tradesman.
Among his common sense ‘secrets’, “We don’t turn up late. We wear smart clothes and are transparent with our prices,” he elaborates. “These aren’t things people normally associate with plumbers.”
On his out-of-the-box approach, Charlie spent £1m (USD$1.2m) on his 80 number plates which spell out plumbing-related themes, including 'Drains', 'Sinks', 'Shower', 'Gas' and 'Loo 2 Rod'. But he says they are an investment in the business as he uses them on his vans. According to Charlie, they got noticed and have brought Pimlico Plumbers a lot of business as a result.
Introduced to Business Aviation
Charlie started using private jets a few years ago when he began investing in property in Marbella, Spain. He’d been negotiating a deal on a villa, and someone else was closing in fast on the deal.
Needing to get from London to Spain to close the transaction before the other party did, the only solution, he recalls, was to fly private. That’s how Charlie discovered the power of private jet travel. Ever since, he has shuttled between London and Malaga on various chartered aircraft, often carrying guests.
Charlie first started chartering small Hawkers and Citation jets, but has recently graduated to larger cabin aircraft, finding the extra space to be more comfortable, and certainly worth the extra money.
According to him, the lockdowns have changed people’s mindset towards air travel. “The hassle in airports, long lines at check-in, delays, last minute flight cancellations, diversions and lost baggage are all things people with the money can avoid by traveling by private jet,” he says.
“Flying private, you control the schedule and you’re guaranteed to get to your destination.”
From Plumbing to the Music Industry
Since selling Pimlico Plumbers, Charlie has moved into the music business, where he has already spotted the talents of singer RaRa Lea (pictured left with Charlie Mullins). Charlie and Rachel (RaRa’s real name) are spending a lot of time in Nashville getting her new album ready, and preparing a US tour for later this year.
In fact, Charlie plans on spending quite a bit of time in the US, shuttling back to the UK and Spain, and is currently either looking to buy some time on a jet or acquire his own, so that he can spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Asked in a recent Biz Jet TV interview what advice he would give to a young person who loves the idea of having their own business and flying private, Charlie admitted that he is not a great fan of universities, believing people have to be more hands-on and get out there.
“Common sense, enthusiasm and different ideas,” he shares. “You need to have a unique approach to what you do, have the guts to do things differently, while solving a problem.
“You always need to be in front of the queue,” he adds. “Make decisions quickly, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As long as you are more right than wrong, you will win.
“In today’s world, so many people are not very good at making decisions. Many people these days complicate business. You need to make it simple.”
In his business, Charlie says they would turn up on time, do the job, clean up afterwards, all while providing a quality service. “People will always pay for quality, and this leads back to private jets. Private jet travel does cost money, but the quality is far higher than airline travel.”
So, if a plumber from London can build a multi- million-dollar business repairing people’s sinks and end up jetting around the world privately, how about you?
More information from www.bizjettv.com.