At the top of his trade
Drew Styles, 30, is a plumber from Wigan and was recently named UK Plumber of the Year 2017 in the nationwide competition run by JT, Bristan and Wolseley Plumb Center.
Where did your plumbing journey begin, and how have you got to where you are today?
I’m actually the fourth-generation plumber in my family. My grandad introduced me to the plumbing world when I was just six. I would help by passing him the tools he needed and he would talk me through what he was working on. Since then, I have always loved it. I kick-started my career with an apprenticeship scheme – the firm ended up taking me on full-time, and I actually worked for them for a total of 10 years.
Have you always wanted to be a plumber?
I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Well, I did give modelling a go a few years back but we won’t talk about that.
How long have you been in the trade?
Just over 12 years.
Which brand of boilers do you stand by?
Vaillant are great. From the backup you get from the manufacturer, to how the boiler is laid out inside, Vaillant boilers are really easy to work with. They are great for maintenance and servicing too and Advance installers get a two-year guarantee free, with the option to upgrade to 10 years if needed.
What’s your best plumbing joke?
“I went out to look for some camouflage work trousers and couldn’t find them…”
What is your go-to tool – the one tool you can’t live without – and why?
I’d say my Kraftform Kompakt kit – PB Plumber will understand! You can fix a boiler with it or the Ikea wardrobe you bought at the weekend. You can’t beat it, really.
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened on the job?
An apprentice I was working with a few years back cut through a two-inch cold main. Two ceilings came down and eight flats were flooded. What makes it even funnier is the mayor was supposed to come and formally open the building the day after. It’s one of those where it’s funny to look back on, but was an absolute nightmare at the time.
What is your all-time favourite meal?
Ribs and sweet potato fries.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you take with you?
- Ray Mears
- A machete
- iPod (with solar power charger)
How do you like your brew?
I’m really not fussy, I’ll take mine as it comes.
What top tip would you give to some someone starting out in the industry?
Listen to what everyone tells you, good and bad – and then make your own mind up from what you’ve been told.
The safety of customers should be priority number one for installers.
Wolverhampton-based Northern Gas Heating has grown rapidly since it was set up in 1998
The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors exists to help contractors run their business and stay up to speed with new developments in the industry