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John Pollard, Pollard Decorating, Sheffield

Trail of paint

Most Trusted Decorator regional winner, John Pollard, talks to us about why he chose his career and helping out after the Sheffield floods.

Why did you choose a career in painting and decorating?

My parents and family had always told me to go into a trade as it would serve me well, and it turns out they were right! I was lucky with my first job, as I started at a small decorating firm which worked for the wealthy steel and engineering families in Sheffield, giving me a lot of experience working on big projects at a very high standard. From there, I started my own business.

How long have you been in the business?

I went into painting and decorating straight from school, so 39 years now!

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

I work as a sole trader, which I really enjoy.

What project would you say was your most memorable?

The most memorable project for me has to be working with a family following the Sheffield floods in 2007. For one reason or another, no work had been arranged to get their house sorted. I took on the task of project managing the restoration, doing the plastering and building myself, and calling in sub-contractors to carry out the rest of the work, which included building and electrical work. It was a really rewarding job and one which I knew the family really appreciated. They've since told me that I helped them get their life back on track and give them back their home. We're still friends now and send each other Christmas cards every year.

What is the best thing about your job?

I think the best thing is working for such a wide range of fantastic people. For example, one of my clients is a gentleman who is 100 years old, and really is from a mould that just doesn't exist anymore. It's great to be able to spend time with someone like that and he always teaches me something new every time I see him. It's the people you meet that make this job what it is.

What is the worst thing about your job?

Trying to fit it all in! It's hard when you work on your own to get the balance between home and work life just right. In order to make both work, you need to make sure that you don't give one too much attention, as it will inevitably have a negative effect on the other.

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

I would tell anyone that is just starting out to learn as much as they can, and get a really in-depth knowledge of available products. The nature of the industry is that each job you have will require a different solution, and it's your responsibility to give your customers the best advice and know which product will give the best results. People really appreciate it if you know the market and instantly trust you more - something that can really help your chances of getting a job.

It's all about the bedtime reading. Even after 39 years in the industry, I still read anything I can get my hands on, like trade magazines or even leaflets you can pick up for free. It all helps.

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