This week’s Business Focus is with Chris Hopkins, who founded Ploughcroft before selling the business in January this year.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
I started the business because I was fed up with seeing scruffy, dangerous roofers who could not see further than their weekly pay packet to get to the pub for Friday lunch time. So I decided to be the only roofing company to wear a clean uniform, with matching liveried vans and matching marketing literature who acheived investors in people, and the ISO standard 18001: 14001: and 9001. And it worked as we stood out from the crowd by miles!
What is your business motto?
Never follow the crowd! Be a leader! And look for what the crowd just missed as you will always find a golden egg.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Be prepared to persevere, take risks, push boundaries, visualise were you want to be, then plan how to get there. It’s extremely exciting and very rewarding, so never give up. Leaders always fall down the first pothole. However, leaders learn how to recover and learn with speed.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
My biggest challenge was finding staff as motivated and passionate as me. The fact is you will not find them as they will be running their own business! Never employ an uninterested plodder as they will bring your whole company to a winging, moaning halt. Always employ the most motivated person you can afford.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Being self employed was great, rewarding, full of freedom and full of risk, like a rollercoaster - exciting at all times. You have ups and downs and you feel alive!
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
I enjoyed every part of being self employed, I can not think of a negative.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
The business figures I most admired were the dragons on Dragons Den, until I got on the show in 2011 and secured the investment and then realised that the dragons are actually BBC celebrities who really only care about fame, then I stopped admiring them and told them “I’m out”!
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Being the only roofer to secure Investment on Dragons Den, securing the national contract with Vaillant PLC to fit solar panels nationally, and developing the solar roofing training course which is now taught in colleges across the UK.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
The next five years are really exiting as I sold the business to Avonside roofing on in December last year and then joined them as their national director of domestic roofing home improvements. Ploughcroft now has a national roofing giant backing it, with me still driving it forward as the national director so the aim is Ploughcroft will become a household roofing name in five years.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
I already invented the roof anchor, which is a safety device sold to roofers across the UK. We sell it at £300 - it’s not a massive money earner and it does promote Ploughcroft’s safety leadership role, and passes on vital safety awareness to the rest of the roofing community. It’s also great to invent something you sell to all your competitors - that really makes you the leader in your field.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I would love to be bought out by a national company, join their board, become a director and push Ploughcroft’s name forward to be a national domestic roofing name - and I just did that!