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Mark Rigby - Dulux Trade Ultimate Professional Decorator 2014

Why did you choose a career in painting and decorating?

I went into decorating straight from leaving school, and unlike a lot of guys, it wasn't a case of following my dad into a family business. I actually chose professional decorating as a trade and career. I always had a bit of an artistic streak in me and at that time there was no such thing as becoming a graphic designer, so a career in painting and decorating was an ideal field to express my creativity.

How long have you been in the business?

I started decorating in 1981 and following a three year apprenticeship I become a fully-fledged self-employed painter and decorator. It's been thirty years this year and I'm still going strong!

What is the best thing about your job?

There are a lot of pros and cons of being self-employed. You can make decisions and choose what jobs to take on, set your own prices and choose to work whatever hours you like to finish of a job. I have two grown-up children now, but throughout their school days, I never missed a sports day as I could work flexibly.

What do you think makes you the Ultimate Professional?

I was really proud to be named Ultimate Professional this year and to know that the extra service I offer my customers doesn't go unnoticed. Above all I always strive to provide a first-class decorating service for all my clients.

There is an old saying: "little things mean a lot". If you can make someone's life a little easier by doing a few small jobs, it goes a long way to gaining extra work. If I am in someone?s home, it's up to me to make that experience as pleasant as I can. That way, I hope to be invited back time and time again.

I'm not talking about anything major, just the small things. For example, bringing the milk in, tightening a loose door handle or coat hook on the door you are painting, or feeding pets if the client is on holiday.

Making sure I always leave the areas I'm working in clean and tidy is also extremely important to me.

All this only requires minutes of my time in the day, but leaves a real lasting impression.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in the industry, what would it be?

The most important advice I could offer someone just starting out in the industry is to not get set in your ways!

Things change all the time: from new technology in application methods (synthetic brushes, spraying) to new materials (water-based paints, and lightweight fillers). The decorating industry is forever changing, so it's vital to move with the times and keep abreast of new developments. If necessary, take training courses, visit online forums to join in discussions with other decorators and research products that other people are recommending or talking about.

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