The inspiration came when Matthew Rhodes was having his chimney swept and a stove installed.
It was the moment he took the plunge and decided to set up his own business, which he now regards as the “best decision I ever made”.
Matthew, aged 45, of Crookes, said: “After 15 years of working in IT, I wanted a career change but struggled to find what it might be.
“But having my own chimney swept and watching my multi-fuel stove being installed led to a major epiphany and, despite the absolute fear, I decided to make the leap of faith.”
Matthew set up MR Chimney Services with help from Sheffield Enterprise Agency.
“Leaving behind the mediocre but stable and regular pay packet that had supported me and my son for so long, I now had to rely on my small amount of savings and the support and understanding of my family.
“I started training to be a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps last year and spent the summer as a sweep apprentice and also studying for examinations with HETAS – the official government-approved body whose qualifications allow me to fit stoves and chimney liners.”
It is not a job to be taken lightly. Unswept chimneys and poorly fitted appliances can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. Sweeps and solid fuel engineers can save people money, keep homes and families safe and satisfy insurance policy requirements.
“On my first day my new ‘office’ was Damflask Reservoir where I swept a boiler chimney,” said Matthew. “Since then I have been working all over South Yorkshire and never cease to meet fantastic and interesting people. This continually reinforces my belief that I am doing the right thing.
“Setting up MR Chimney Services was the best decision I ever made. I now get up in the morning full of life, enthusiasm and excitement for this quirky job.”
Matthew is also hiring himself out as a traditional lucky chimney sweep for weddings.
“There is currently a revival in this industry as people are realising the benefits of a real home fire. But stoves are not just a thing of beauty that create a homely atmosphere. With rising gas and electricity prices, they make economic sense and are a low-cost way of using renewable energy sources.”
Attending workshops run by SENTA taught Matthew the ‘nuts and bolts’ of starting a business and he received professional help throughout.
“Setting up a business has been fun and rewarding. I strongly believe you get as much out of life as you put in and it’s the same in business. I know if I work hard I will reap the benefits and that’s not just financial, it’s about being my own boss, nurturing an idea and watching it grow,” he said.