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Expelled from school to Forbes 30 Under 30

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Monday, 06 January 2020. Posted in Fresh faces, Interviews

Meet Joseph Valente who continues breaking the mould with the success of his boiler installer company ImpraGas

Expelled from school to Forbes 30 Under 30

29-year-old Joseph Valente speaks about how he turned his life around from being kicked out from school to launching, Impra Gas, who have just won Boiler Installer of the Year

“I was expelled from school at 15 and I still remember to this day the look of disappointment in my mum’s eyes,” Joseph Valente, owner of UK’s leading boiler installation company ImpraGas, tells me. “I promised her from that point I’d make her proud and I’ve worked hard every day to do that.”

Joseph Valente was kicked out of school when he was just 15-years-old, but never let the setback deter him from achieving success. Raised in Peterborough by his mother, Joseph was determined to make a name for himself and look after his family. With his father out of the picture, Joseph’s mother had to tirelessly work two jobs to keep a roof above her children’s heads. Joseph wanted to do his family proud and take the load of his mother’s shoulders by making a name for himself in his city. At 16, he began an apprenticeship at a local plumbing firm, working for free to acquire skills on the job. Joseph was so inspired by his friend’s brother’s plumbing business that he decided to kickstart his own company, ImpraGas, in 2012 with a dream of becoming the best installer in Peterborough.

His uncle was one of his biggest inspirations, having helped his family out with finances over the years. Joseph wanted to support his mother so she could have an early retirement, giving him the determination to reach success by hook or by crook.

“My mum worked two jobs to ensure my sister and I always had a roof over our head and the things we needed,” Joseph said. “My mum’s brother always had a good job, a nice car and helped mum out which meant we saw the other side as such. I saw what he had, and I promised myself I’d get there. I wanted to be able to support my mum and enable her to retire early to say thank you for the sacrifices she made for me growing up.”

In 2015, Joseph took his business venture onto The Apprentice and was crowned the season’s champion, winning a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar as his business partner. Joseph praised Lord Sugar as one of his biggest influences in business and that working with the mogul had always been his lifelong goal. Joseph flew solo with his plumbing business just two years later, buying back Lord Sugar’s share of ImpraGas which they jointly owned on a 50/50 partnership. Fortunately enough, there were no hard feelings.

Speaking about his Apprentice win, Joseph said: “It was absolutely incredible, that feeling of knowing all my hard work had paid off and I’d done it was amazing. I went in to win and hearing those words ‘you’re hired’ was the biggest rush. After reading Lord Sugar’s book working with him had been a huge goal of mine, he was my idol. I finally felt accomplished. Even though ImpraGas was already doing well and I had nine staff, I finally felt like I’d achieved what I could have only dreamt of and was hungry for the next steps!”

ImpraGas has seen astounding success over the years, and has just been awarded Boiler Installer of the Year, installing over 200 boilers across the country per month and tripling their monthly turnover to £1 million. "ImpraGas has grown from strength to strength I will always value what Lord Sugar taught me about business and using this knowledge allowed me to push ImpraGas to win National Boiler Installer of the year and become a national business within 3 years,” Joseph said. “We now cover all of England, Scotland and Wales.”

Joseph has been recognised for his astonishing achievements in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, owing his success to his tremendous work ethic, sacrificing weekends and late nights in order to take his company to the next level.

Speaking about his placing on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, Joseph said: “It made me feel like a bad ass! To be honest it didn’t feel real when I got the call. The calibre of entrepreneurs included was intense and to be recognised for what I’d done within the industry, not just because I won a TV show but because of the hard work, the sales and the determination really meant something to be. I was being taken seriously by my industry and my peers and that, without doubt, was one of the proudest moments of my career.”

“This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the team which surround me,” he added. “They see my vision of where we are taking ImpraGas and they’re all totally on board. You can’t achieve anything in business if your team don’t share your vision.  It’s been hard. Long hours, lost weekends, late nights but the rewards have far outweighed the lows. Seeing us recognised by our industry and our peers was amazing.”

Following the successful launch of his mastermind group, The Trade Mastermind, Joseph is now in the process of launching a new business mentoring scheme for young entrepreneurs and sole traders who wish to take their business to the next level. Having 4 mentors himself – a business coach, a life coach, a personal development coach and a finance coach - Joseph believes it is essential every business owner has someone to turn to for advice and help, especially in the early days of running a company.

“The Trade Mastermind was set up to support one-man bands, sole traders and SME's in construction,” Joseph tells me. “The focus is support with growth, there is no one in construction teaching a successful business strategy to the tradesman that allows them to expand what they are good at and also build a successful company and brand at the same time. With the aim to 'Get off the Tools’.

“Plumbers start plumbing businesses. Electricians start electrical businesses. Builders build houses. But no one teaches us how to actually run a business, how to sell, market, finance, scale, comply with health and safety and rules and regulations. These are just some of the reasons why sole traders don't live out their full potential in business and this is the reason behind The Trade Mastermind. I’m excited to pass on my years of knowledge and that which I’ve learnt from those around me including Lord Sugar to others.”

Joseph now plans to keep his ImpraGas business stable while continuing to provide exceptional service to his customers across the UK. Joseph has no plans of stopping his entrepreneurial streak, launching his new clothing range, Gentleman Co, and now hopes to immerse himself in the events sector.

In a final word of advice to budding entrepreneurs, Joseph said: “Do what you love, never give up and be prepared to work hard! Nothing worth having comes easy and it won’t land in your lap. Too many people think that business is easy, it’s not. You only get back what you put in.”

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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