Page 74

RCI January 2018

PITCHED ROOFING Recipe for success Turning his back on life as a chef meant Tom Knight could scale new heights, winning SkillBuild in the south west and being Highly Commended in last year’s Redland Apprentice of the Year competition. With this year’s competition launching on February 1st, RCI caught up with him on site near Tom Knight is a 23-year-old roofer from Truro who is currently flying high, having recently been Highly Commended in the Redland Apprentice of the Year competition. Yet Tom was not always set on a career in roofing – having started working as a chef after leaving college. But it quickly turned out that life in the kitchen was not for him: “As a chef”, he explained, “I had no job satisfaction – the hours were very long and really anti-social, but I stuck at it as it felt like my only option at the time.” “In the end, I left the kitchen to have a big think about what I wanted in the long term. In the meantime, a labouring job came up which put me on the path to roofing. I wasn’t thinking about it particularly, but I started to learn the basics and my boss offered to put me on an apprenticeship scheme so I could become a skilled worker. As a result, I started at Rooftrain in Exeter.” That far-sighted boss was Nathan Wheeler of Wheeler Roofing Services in Truro, and Tom’s Rooftrain tutor was Alan Lander. “Alan is great at teaching and made me feel far more interested in roofing than I ever had been before. With his and Nathan’s support, I enjoyed my job more – and felt far more motivated and invested. The further the training went on, the more I realised how I wanted to make roofing my career.” It was Alan that not only put Tom forward for the South West SkillBuild – which he won – but also the Redland Apprentice of the Year, with the finals being staged last June. The competition – open to 2018 entries from February 1st – is for all roofing apprentices who are currently enrolled with one of Redland’s participating colleges or training groups within the company’s Young Redland Roofer student support programme. Entrants are tested and judged on all-round ability, including business skills, to see if they have what it takes to one day run their own roofing company. It’s not simply about their skills on the roof. At stake is a £1,000 cash prize, the title of Redland Apprentice of the Year 2018, together with a trophy, a lifetime supply of free-of-charge 072 JANUARY 2018 RCIMAG.COM Truro for a chat courses at the Redland National Training Centre, and a prize pack containing roofing swag. Although being Highly Commended no doubt helps, Tom has only good things to say about the competition. “The whole experience was brilliant and I think we all got a lot out of the competition. Redland made us all feel like a team and that each one of us had done really well to have made the final ten. We all got on really well and shared our experiences after the day’s training. I’d like to give a massive thanks to the whole Redland team for a great time that taught me a lot.” He continued: “I learnt a huge amount in the competition, which was basically a two-day course. It really boosted my confidence and taught me skills that I would need to run my own business, presentation particularly. When you’re working on a roof or scaffold no-one bothers you, but if you have a business then you need to talk to clients and merchants, so this was most useful. The knowledge sharing session was very useful too, and I learnt a lot from being able to ask questions about how to run your own business and listening to the others asking questions that I hadn’t thought of being asked by the others.” Fresh set of goals Now fully qualified, Tom has a fresh set of goals. First among these is the opportunity to tackle more projects by himself, as he and the colleague he currently works with are treated as being semiskilled. As he said: “I can’t wait to get my own labourer – everyone has their own way of doing things, and I would love to start teaching things the way I do them.” This is, by his own admission, perhaps a year away and then – far, far down the track – is the prospect of running his own business. “That’s a really long way off”, he says, “I’ve been with Wheeler’s for two and a half years now; and I feel great deal of loyalty towards Nathan. It was him that put me on the course, and he’s been dead supportive. I feel there’s plenty of time yet, and plenty of work to be done for him first.” Images show Tom Knight at work A real asset That said, that having his own business might be over Tom’s horizon has not gone unnoticed by Nathan: “Tom picks up things very quickly and is a real asset to the company. He used to work in kitchens, but now is making a go of it as a roofer with the ultimate goal of running his own business. I’m sure he’ll succeed in doing that because he certainly has the potential”. Beyond SkillBuild and the apprentice award for Tom, the last six months have seen some other big wins – last September he got married to his fiancée Kioni. They had a short honeymoon in France, and are now saving hard to spend January 2019 in New Zealand, giving Kioni – who has kiwi heritage – the chance to meet her relatives for the first time. On what being Highly Commended in the Redland Apprentice of the Year meant, tutor Alan Lander concludes: “This award was a feather in the cap for the college and for me as Tom’s tutor; yet it was lovely to see Tom learn so much from the competition and take away so much from it. He’s learnt the skills to present to people and now he can estimate so he can progress from working on the tools to the office, so his employer won’t have to recruit from outside, and that’s a real bonus”. Indeed: a bonus for Tom, Wheeler Roofing Services and the trade as a whole. www.redland.co.uk


RCI January 2018
To see the actual publication please follow the link above