Ever wondered how some people end up doing the job they do? We wondered that too! Here Mark Lauri tells us how he got started….
I never wanted to be a plumber. My first encounter with plumbing was when I was seven – my gran was sick and flushed her false teeth down the toilet. My dad opened the manhole cover in the garden, gave me the tongs from mums spin dryer, held me by my legs and lowered me head first into the manhole while mum flushed the toilet until the false teeth floated by – I grabbed them first attempt – I got two shillings as a reward.
My second experience was when my dad installed our central heating – he was an engineer not a plumber by profession. I recall water coming through the ceiling and my dad throwing tools – I learnt my first swear words that day. So despite my experiences of plumbing starting at an earlier age it wasn’t until I was 18 that I got my start in this way of life.
I got asked to leave school at 16 and started work in a factory – the only work I could find where they didn’t require qualifications or a reference. It was boring, poorly paid and noisy, working on a machine all day doing repetitive work. This lasted for a year – my girlfriend wasn’t impressed with me, I had no future and a lack of money – so she marched me down the job centre, resulting in an interview at a local hotel as a maintenance assistant.
So I got the start I desperately wanted. I started with the hotel maintenance engineer – an older guy, old school and I guess an early multi-trader, he could turn his hand to anything. We established a good relationship (he had the patience of a saint and he needed it) I wouldn’t be where I am now without his help and guidance.
I left the hotel after doing my 4 years C&G advanced craft, it was the best job I ever had but I needed to progress and earn more. I worked for a local building company doing plumbing work and assisting other trades. Got made redundant after a year and decided to start up my own company.
I did this for 25 years, I employed apprentices and various people in my time, owning a bathroom showroom then when the late 80’s recession kicked in it all went pear shaped and I lost everything. I started up again until 2010 when I ceased trading due to ill health and other factors.
Since 2010 I have been working as a construction tutor for charities, training unemployed young adults in construction skills. It’s very challenging getting the learners through our courses. We do reach and help many, turning their lives around. It was always something I wanted to do – to give back. It stems from my opportunity – I was wayward and a bit of a rebel in 79 when I got an opportunity to turn my life around, it’s all thanks to a certain man who took me under his wing, he taught me right from wrong and shared his skills with me, showed me things I didn’t realise I could do and helped me progress.
Everyone needs help at some stage in his or her lives – some don’t get it, some don’t need as much, and others need a whole lot more. My current job is giving me the opportunity to help shape the future of disadvantaged young adults. If you get the opportunity to help others get on the plumbing ladder then please help them up the rungs – it’s a long way to the top and we’re all getting older – we need to introduce youngsters to stop that skills gap widening.
Thanks Mark for sharing your story with us, I’m only pleased your dad kept hold of your legs!