Former Lanarkshire soldier who left force to become chimney sweep is up for top business award

A former soldier from Lanarkshire now running his own chimney sweep franchise has made the finals of the prestigious Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

Kris McLernon left the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) during the pandemic after 14 years of service.

And it was only in August last year that he decided to buy his local Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise and launch a totally different career.

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The 33-year-old from Forth has had nothing but high praise during a very successful start to his new job, and he is recommending others like him to follow the same path.

Kris now looks forward to the finals of the awards after his nomination in the New Service Leaver category.

He told Lanarkshire Live: “I loved my time in the army but decided to leave during the pandemic; everyone advised me against it but, I listened to my gut and made the move.

“I came home to Lanarkshire, did a few driving jobs initially, then I found Wilkins Chimney Sweep.”

Kris spent 14 years serving as a recovery mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Talking about the franchising sector Kris believes that people misunderstand it.

He added: “Although the company trained me to do the job and they are on hand if I have any questions, it is 100 per cent me out there every day, sweeping chimneys, fitting cages, getting sooty then going home to work on social media posts and advertising campaigns.

“I haven’t bought myself a job, I’ve invested in a brand with a great reputation, an existing presence on the internet, a large network of other franchisees and an experienced franchisor to ask advice from, but the success of my business is entirely down to me.

“As the saying goes, I’m in business for myself but not by myself.”

He continued: “Unlike a regular 9-5 job, when you run your own business, you never switch off, but equally I have so much more flexibility in my life.

“If I want some time off to be with my daughter or attend a special event, I can, that is a major plus point for me; my diary and my day are my own.

“I would thoroughly recommend anyone who is leaving the forces to consider a Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise.”

The awards highlight the achievements of ex-military personnel, their success since leaving the forces and the organizations that have supported them.

The New Service Leaver category recognizes men and women who left the military less than three years ago and are already achieving great things in a second career.

Corp Colonel, Colonel Jason Phillips ADC REME said of his former recovery mechanic Kris: “It’s fantastic to see Kris achieve so much since leaving the REME and in such quick time.

“He is clearly a determined, dynamic and proactive individual. We are proud that our Corps has been an important part of his journey and proud to see him reach the finals of the Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

“Best of luck in the end Kris, be sure to keep us informed of your successes.”

Following extensive training by the franchisor, Kris now sweeps open chimneys, wood burning stoves, Agas, Jetmasters, Rayburns and biomass boilers and fits cages caps and cowls to homes and businesses across Lanarkshire.

Operations manager Richard Bryan who trained Kris said: “I knew he was going to be good from the very start of training. Kris is organized, focused, and disciplined.

“He picked it all up very quickly. He regularly uses our company WhatsApp group, picking the brains of the other franchisees, who have been running their own businesses and sweeping chimneys for many years.”

Franchise manager Lisa Kimber added: “After just six months, Kris is doing an incredible job, far in front of where we would expect him to be at this stage.

“He is very independent, continually coming up with new ideas to market and advertise his business. He thinks for himself but always checks with head office first, which is great.

“Kris is very driven and his customers really rate him. It usually takes a while for a sweep to get word of mouth referrals but just six months in and he is receiving them regularly, a huge testimonial to the service he provides.”

Kris will find out if he is successful at a glitzy awards bask at the Hilton in Glasgow on May 25.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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