Manzoor works in the borough as a plumbing and heating specialist.
Do you live in the borough and if so for how long have you been here?
Yes, I’ve lived in Waltham Forest for a long time, since the 90s and in Walthamstow since the early 2000s.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Pakistan. I came here because of family and I worked as a labourer for a few years.
Do you have children, and did they grow up here?
Yes, I have four children, most of them are teenagers. My daughters are at uni in Reading and at college in Hackney, my son’s about to go to Leyton Sixth Form and my youngest is at school in Walthamstow.
Can you tell us about when and why you started your business?
I did my plumbing qualification at the college in Stratford. It took two years for the plumbing course and another year for the gas installation. I was working at a factory at the time and going to college in the evening, so they were very long days!
I qualified in 2002/2003, and was a sole trader for a few years before becoming a limited company a few years ago.
How would you describe Waltham Forest?
It is a very nice place. We have a lot of friends in the area and the community is really nice. I love living in a multicultural place and meeting new people. I mostly meet new people through work, but also through the children’s schools
What do you think makes your business stand out?
People come to me because of other people’s recommendations. I have good online reviews and I think that’s because I really listen to what people want. After completing a job, it’s really important to me to go back and check everything has been done in the right way. We also often leave the place cleaner than we found it – that makes for a really happy customer!
I really think that when people come to me they get a service they might not get elsewhere. If you make the customer happy, they will come back and my customers come back year after.
How many people do you employ and how many of your employees live locally?
I hire people locally when there is a big job to be done.
What does Manzoor Plumbing do to support the local community?
People often ask for advice on personal projects, and I’m always happy to help on the layout and details of anything they’re working on. I go and have a look at people’s houses to see how they’ve done it after they finish a project and work out any improvements they could make – free of charge.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced since the lockdown?
It has been a really challenging period. We have had no money coming in and children at home and that’s been tough. For my work, I have to go to people’s houses, and people are still scared to hire tradespeople. If I have to go into somebody’s kitchen or bathroom they’re understandably worried. Since Covid-19, a lot jobs have stopped coming in and in the meantime I have had a lot of bills I need to pay.
I have just started up again with a few clients in the last couple of weeks but obviously I have to be really careful and make sure I wear my gloves, mask and have a big bottle of hand sanitiser handy.
Work is slow at the moment but hopefully it will soon start to pick up.
What are your plans to grow and sustain your business over the next 12 months?
I have started my electric course. I have my Level 2 now and should start my Level 3 qualification in September. Once finished, I can start working as a qualified electrician. That came about because I was doing people’s gas safety checks, and they would always ask me if I could do an electrics check too, and I haven’t been able to. Once I am a qualified electrician, I’m sure that will bring in another three to five jobs a week!
Why is it important to learn new skills?
If we do not upgrade our skills, we’ll all get left behind! I am very active usually so it has been a challenge during lockdown to stay fit. I usually play squash regularly and love to go running, but I’ve managed to use the treadmill a bit.
Why should people use local traders?
It’s very important for our community to use local builders, electricians and so on. If we place our trust in the local community, that’s the way we can lift it up. It’s easier for people to find a local business. I always use local people for everything in my house, from roofers to electricians.
Where do you like to visit locally?
I love to go to Lloyd Park. I love Sahara Grill in Leyton - such great food. The Leyton Turkish supermarket is great and the family like to go to the Empire Cinema on Walthamstow High Street.