Although Tony had worked as a driver for nearly seven years, he was already registered as an OFTEC engineer. “It was something I’d always enjoyed doing and I found the work interesting,” explained Tony. In order to get up to speed, Tony re-sat the new OFTEC regulatory exams in February and spent four days in Devizes at Grant Engineering getting qualified to install its equipment. On setting up his new business, ARN Heating, in March, Tony was routinely inspected by OFTEC.
Based in Newquay, Tony covers the whole of Cornwall and parts of Devon and currently has a customer base of approximately 600. The company offers boiler breakdown services, tank installations, annual boiler servicing, AGA and Rayburn servicing, full heating system installations, boiler exchanges and contract maintenance. “I get a lot of my work through word of mouth,” said Tony, “but I also advertise through News and Trader, a free local publication and I am registered with the Rated People, BoilerJuice, MyHammer and MyBuilder websites. I’ve also recently had some assistance to set up my own website, www.arnheating.co.uk, which is still a work in progress.”
Keen to drum up new business, Tony attended Stithians Show in July. “Having attended on previous years with Tincknells Fuels, this was my first solo attempt. I was incredibly busy talking to both potential and existing customers and was able to pick up a number of leads that have resulted in work. I even managed to stop and do a breakdown on the way home!” At the show Tony donated a full boiler service to the Phoenix Appeal, which raises funds for stroke victims at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske. Following on from this, Tony was interviewed by Radio Cornwall about his stroke and the appeal.
Tony has a plumber, Ray Harris who works with him, enabling him to offer general plumbing services alongside oil heating. “This works really well for us,” says Tony. “We’ve also been talking to the local college about taking on apprentices, and this seems to be coming to fruition. In the next few weeks we have a female plumber coming to work alongside Ray.
With growing interest in renewables, Tony and Ray have been looking to branch out into solar and rain harvesting technologies, but are still waiting for training to become available. Unusually for an installer, Tony has recently gained an emergency first aid qualification. “With a large number of elderly customers, I thought it would be a good idea to help keep them safe.”
“As I offer a 24/7 service, I’m extremely busy, which is wonderful. I’ve even had emergency call outs at 11pm on a Sunday evening! I absolutely love the work I am doing and wouldn’t it change for anything. Going self-employed and being my own boss is the best thing I’ve ever done. I would like to thank my wife Jane – without her support, I wouldn’t be doing any of this. I’d also like to thank OFTEC and Gareth Farr from Grant UK for their assistance.”