“How I Became a Chimney Sweep in London” - Paul’s story
You might have a pre-defined image of a chimney sweep, and that’s entirely understandable; these aren’t the sort of people you come into contact with regularly, after all.
However, if that image is one of a soot-covered young boy emerging from your fireplace with a flimsy brush in his quivering right hand, you’ll be glad to hear we left that era many, many moons ago.
Modern chimney sweeps are experts at their craft and, would you believe, enter the industry completely on their own accord.
It may also surprise you to hear that the founder of SweepSmart was actually a restaurant manager before he entered this industry.
Here’s how SweepSmart boss, Paul Solicari, became a chimney sweep in London.
Everything happens for a reason
In 2013, Paul formed SweepSmart having left his role as a restaurant manager at the family’s business in Soho.
The reason Paul decided to make such a significant career change wasn’t because he’d wanted to build a chimney sweep business his entire life. He didn’t have any prior experience in the field, either.
No, it was because his brother-in-law had a particularly bad fall.
The accident happened while his brother-in-law was working as a chimney sweep in Suffolk. It left him unable to work for a period of time, during which Paul offered to step in and help out.
It didn’t take long for Paul to realise this was his calling, prompting him to work his way through the numerous qualifications required to break into the chimney sweep industry.
The all-important apprenticeship
An apprenticeship is a wonderful way to sample an industry for which you think you might be suited. There are very few barriers to entry and apprenticeships provide ‘on-the-job’ learning like nothing else.
This is how Paul learnt much of his craft during his formative years as a chimney sweep in London.
It’s near impossible to gain that practical, hands-on experience in classrooms and training sessions, which is why the apprenticeship had such a significant impact on Paul. It proved that he was right; this was the industry for him.
More importantly, the experience gained by Paul at that time related primarily to chimney construction and fireplace installations; the knowledge from which enabled him to truly understand the role of the chimney sweep.
Learning from the past to create the SweepSmart ethos of today
There are two things which set SweepSmart out from the rest: attention to detail and customer service.
These, unsurprisingly, come from Paul’s prior experience as a restaurant manager. In that industry, those two elements are absolutely crucial if you’re to build a profitable business. As far as Paul was concerned, carrying them over into his burgeoning chimney sweep business was an absolute no-brainer.
Alas, the industry was sadly not always known for high quality work - or operatives. It became clear to Paul early on that attention to detail, in particular, would be a real differentiator for SweepSmart.
It didn’t go unrecognised, either. In 2015, SweepSmart passed the tough assessment process to become a Which? Trusted Trader. Anyone who has been through this process will know how rigorous it is.
Two years later, Paul was finally awarded the status of MasterSweep. And we say “finally”, because it was always going to happen, given his dedication to the craft and sheer determination to build a great business within a much-misunderstood industry.
It doesn’t stop there
Like every successful business owner, Paul has ensured that the entire team at SweepSmart focuses on continually improving their knowledge, skills, and ability to deliver a brilliant customer experience.
It’s a standard he sets himself, too, having become one of only 100 fully qualified sweeps in the UK under the NVQ in Chimney Sweeping.
These incredibly high standards are reflected in everything the SweepSmart team does, and that’s why Paul’s fascinating journey has resulted in the company he still runs today.
If you’re based in London and you fancy bringing in the expertise and customer-focused ethos of SweepSmart to inspect your chimney, just get in touch with the team today.