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Robert Wilson, Managing Director, Wilson Decorators Ltd

Robert Wilson, Managing Director, Wilson Decorators Ltd

Robert Wilson gives us an insight into running a painting and decorating business for 34 years, after an early career in football wasn't everything he expected.

Why did you choose a career in painting and decorating?

I actually started out as a promising footballer at school, so I put all my focus into sport and didn't always get my head down into my work. I joined Burnley Football Club when I left school at 16, but they released me for not being good enough.

When I came home to Glasgow, my mum saw a job advert for our local council's painting and decorating department in the newspaper, and I had to go for it.

I went to college to get my qualification and for two out of the three years, I was the best performing student. The only reason I didn't carry this on into my third year was because I took time out to put my skills into practise and make my way in the decorating world.

How long have you been in the business?

I've been running my own painting and decorating business for 34 years.

Do you work as a sole trader or for a company?

Sole trader - I'm the managing director of Wilson Decorator Ltd.

What project would you say was your most memorable?

There have been so many memorable projects during the past 34 years, but our work on Victoria Halls in Dunblane ranks very highly for me, as we brought what was a derelict building back to life.

It was all part of the community coming closer together following the Dunblane tragedy in 1996 and we still do maintenance on the building today. We are invited to the New Year's party as guests of honour every year, alongside all the Dunblane families.

I was, and still am, very proud of this work.

What is the best thing about your job?

The variety - we work in all sorts of places and no one day is the same, which is very exciting for me. For instance, we can be working in sheltered accommodation one day and a prison the next.

What is the worst thing about your job?

Paperwork - I get mad with admin!

What are your top tips for someone just starting in the industry?

It's important to join the Federation of Master Decorators or the Painting and Decorating Association. They can help enormously and I like to think of them as self-help groups. When you go to them with an issue and you need help, someone in there will have had the same problem before and can offer great advice.

I'd also advise people not to grow their business too quickly - grow it organically instead and don't run before you can walk.

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