The first Covid-19 lockdown began just over four years ago, on 23 March 2020. Can you remember what your business was like before the lockdown? Do you think your business has improved in those four years? Or do you feel like you are walking around in circles?

In any given month, I will speak to many heating engineers and business owners at live events, via Zoom calls, and through social media messages.

Recently I had a call with a fella looking to change his business’ direction. Listening to his story reminded me of my own journey, which I then explained to him, hoping it would help him gain focus.

Learning the ropes

Like many people in the industry, I did not simply leave school at 16 as an apprentice plumber. I left school not knowing what to do but ended up managing an old-school record shop at the age of 24 before deciding I needed a trade behind me. 

Pre-financial crash in 2006, it seemed the banks were giving money away, so getting a loan for £7,000 to fund qualifying as a Corgi gas engineer was pretty easy.

The state of the economy in 2007 and the financial crash of 2008 meant there were no jobs available for fast-track, unqualified plumbers with little work experience, which, like many people reading this article, forced me down the subcontract route, working for landlords, builders, and wannabe property developers. Sound familiar?

It wasn’t until 2012 that I finally figured out how to get the phone to ring. Fast-forward 18 months, and I had built my team to four people. From paying my fast-track course fees in 2006 to taking on my first employee in 2013, it took seven years of struggle to see my business finally heading in the right direction. 

Teaching others

Over the next six years, this same team continued to grow, helping 14 people qualify as gas engineers, and installing over 1,500 boilers. The experience of building and leading a team of people then led to the next change of direction. 

Around Easter 2018, we started building a Facebook community called The Boiler Business to support heating engineers and discuss the business side of the trade while writing a marketing and sales training programme for the heating industry.

The following January, 10 plumbers from around the UK arrived in a Sheffield hotel conference room to launch Dominate Marketing. Over the following 15 months, we delivered two live training events every month until one Friday afternoon after finishing an event at that same Sheffield hotel. That’s when Boris Johnson announced that all pubs should close immediately and not reopen the following day. 

On 23 March 2020, the first UK lockdown began, which clearly put the brakes on our ‘new’ live training business model. Like all businesses at the time, we had to evolve and accept the ‘new normal’. 

Over the next two years, our training, like many other businesses, moved to live Zoom events and, eventually, we built the first online course on the Boiler Business website. 

In early 2022, I started my third company (Digital Toolbag) and now work full-time, supporting the HVAC industry with training, mentorship, and marketing services. I constantly evolve what I do.

Your evolving business

The financial crash of 2008, the EU referendum in 2016, the COVID lockdown in 2020, the Ukraine war in 2022, and the cost of living crisis in 2023 are a selection of recent events outside of our control that will affect your business in one way or another. 

Although we cannot prepare for many of these events, we can prepare for uncertainty while still finding the time for the evolution that successful businesses must embrace. 

We can all see the political landscape and the heating industry moving towards a renewables revolution. For many people, installing green technologies will be their direction, but some may feel that something other than installation is the right move for their business, family, mind, and body. 

The future of the HVAC industry will still need experienced engineers for non-installation works. Regardless of your age and experience, your business can evolve significantly over four years if you focus and consistently invest your time.


You can find out everything you need to know about The Boiler Business community, Built-To-Last courses, live events, and membership over at