A LEYLAND plumber is proving that physical labour is not necessarily a man’s world after launching a successful self-employed service.
Sally Makinson, 37, of School Lane, founded her business Sally Plumber after spending three-and-a-half years working for Valley Technical Services in Chorley.
Now she hopes her success will encourage other women to take up careers they may not have otherwise considered, and says the experience has transformed her life.
She said: “I’ve always been handy, and enjoyed doing DIY with my dad as a kid.
“I’ve never felt comfortable dressing smartly to go to work in an office, putting make-up on, that sort of thing.
“I like being free and going to work in an old T-shirt, it suits me. I’ve never been so happy.
Sally started the business towards the end of last year, and received an immediate boost as the severe winter led to huge demand for repairing leaks and frozen pipe bursts.
Getting the business off the ground has been something of a family affair, with Sally’s boyfriend and parents offering valuable support.
She said: “I’ve had massive support from them, and wouldn’t have got here without them.
“My boyfriend Chris works all the hours God sends to help me pay for my tools and keep up with mortgage payments, and he comes down to lend me a hand if I need assistance.
“My parents are retired so my dad Peter deals with all the calls, and offers a bit of a reception service.
“They’ve helped me massively, supporting me when I was only on apprentice wages.”
She does en suite fitting, bathroom and kitchen work, and works in and around Chorley, Leyland and Preston under the eye-catching slogan: “No b*******, just good plumbing.”
She now has a waiting list for jobs, and is expecting a busy summer of work as her name and reputation grows.
Sally said: “As soon as people start talking to me over the phone, they can see I know what I’m talking about.
“When they see me work, they know I’m trustworthy. They get the impression straight away that I care about my work and won’t put my name to a bad job.”
Being a woman also has its benefits in terms of attracting clients.
She said: “I have quite a lot of old and disabled customers, who like the peace of mind of not having some burly bloke in their house.”
Sally turned to learning a manual trade after working in graphic design and wanting to do something different.
However, she admits becoming a plumber was something of a fluke.
She said: “Initially I’d thought about being an electrician, as I thought it would be easier, so I started ringing round the local companies.
“When I rang up Valley Technical Services, the boss, Bob Smith, came round to interview me, and he and mum recognised each other.
“They’d been to school together and hadn’t seen each other for years.
“He took me on as an apprentice plumber and I then enrolled at Wigan College so I could get my qualifications.”
As nearly a lone female in the industry, Sally says she hopes more women will choose careers such as plumbing.
She said: “When I was at college there was me and one other girl, out of around 200 people learning plumbing.
“Now I think there’s one other woman in the area, who does gas work and boiler repairs. But we’ve never bumped into each other. It would be nice to meet up.”
She added: “I don’t really know why more women don’t do it. It’s all about technique, it’s not like cast iron work or something that requires brute strength.
“I have got stronger as I’ve worked, so I can carry radiators and things, but it’s just something that you are able to do with practice.
“Make no mistake, it’s a tough job. But it’s one I absolutely love, and with the recession I think more people should just take the plunge.”