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Paddy Plunkett’s career in the tiling industry began when he was 15 years’ old, with an apprenticeship at Commercial Marble and Tile. He quickly showed his potential and was nominated to represent the North of England in the SkillBuild finals at Olympia in London when he was 19.
However, a change in career soon beckoned, when Paddy set up a shop fitting business. This was to prove a major influence on the rest of his career, giving him experience of construction and a chance to see the bigger picture on design and construction jobs.
In 1975, Paddy returned to the tiling industry and set up P Plunkett Tiling Contractors, the company to which he has devoted the last 40 years of his life. It started with jobs being run from his garage, with a spare bedroom used as an office. Today, the company - with Paddy as chairman - employs over 70 people and is one of the leading tiling contractors in the UK.
The company - which is based in Prudhoe, Northumberland - works all over the UK for major contractors, prestigious clients and on hugely impressive projects - the MetroCentre in Gateshead, the House of Commons, Daily Telegraph offices and the BBC in London, York Art Gallery, Alnwick Garden, CenterParcs and many more. Work at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne resulted in a TTA award in 2011.
The company was the first tiling contractor in the UK to achieve BS5750 Part 2 Certification for Quality Assurance and was the first to gain Investor in People status. Ask Paddy what has been the inspiration behind his company’s huge success, and he’ll say three words - ‘Quality, quality, quality’. Setting the highest of standards in every area - and striving daily to meet them - is the only way for a business to thrive, he says.
A remarkable company culture has seen staff sticking around at P Plunkett Tiling Contractors. Many have worked for Paddy for over 20 years; there is now a second generation of employees. Many current managers started as apprentices and all six company directors have been brought through the business, testament to Paddy’s vision of building his company almost as a family. All staff are employed directly, with no sub-contracting.
Paddy believes that his business is all about the people who work in it. When asked for the thing that he’s most proud of over the last four decades, he says, ‘The people I employ. They bring me the most pride’. And he means it.
Trust and commitment are at the heart of his business relationships and many of the people he has worked with over the years he is proud to call friends. Paddy is a ‘people person’ in every sense, and if you’ve been lucky enough to meet him or work with him, you’ll know that all too well.