As Maintracts Services enters its 50th anniversary, it’s not just a milestone for the company but a testament to the evolving landscape of plumbing and heating over the past half-century. From its humble beginnings to becoming a leading name in the industry, Maintracts Services has weathered changes, embraced challenges, and carved out a niche for itself in a world where plumbing has transformed beyond recognition. We caught up with Malcolm and Oliver Osmore to hear their thoughts on the company’s last five decades…

A Legacy Of Innovation

Founded in 1974 by Malcolm Osmore, Maintracts Services entered a plumbing world vastly different from today. Picture external toilets and tin baths in gardens – a far cry from the multi-bathroom homes equipped with advanced plumbing systems we see now. Initially focusing on commercial contracts due to the prevailing trends, Maintracts Services later found its stride in the domestic sector as opportunities expanded in the wake of policy changes.

Company Founder Malcolm Osmore explains: “Fifty years ago, the plumbing world operated very differently with masses of multi-companies rather than larger, specialist firms. My original company plan was to serve domestic households, but at that time, plumbing work tended to be conducted by the local builder rather than by a specialist organisation, forcing us to head down the commercial contractor path. It wasn’t until Margaret Thatcher came into power and gave greater opportunities for people to become self-employed and begin companies, that things started to change. By the time the early 90s came around, many larger companies entered into receivership which enabled us to finally return to our domestic roots – where we have remained happily ever since.”

Malcolm’s son, Oliver Osmore, the current Managing Director, reminisces about the early days when plumbing meant more than just pipes – it meant intricate leadwork and ornate craftsmanship. He shares a memorable project involving the Sultan of Brunei’s property, where Maintracts Services played a pivotal role in creating a lavish abode fit for royalty:

“Before I start this story, it’s important to explain that the word plumbing comes from the Latin word plumbum which means “lead” (hence why the symbol for lead on the periodic table of elements is “Pb”!). Lead was the main material used for the early plumbing systems and therefore, years ago, a plumber’s job was not just tending to the plumbing pipework, but it was getting involved in all of the leadwork on a building such as, the leadwork around chimney stacks that prevents water infiltrating.

About 40 years ago, we were consulted by an architect to carry out the ornate lead weathering (a very ornate and decorative lead dressing that often displayed underneath the windows of older properties) and façade work to a run-down property owned by one of London’s largest property owners, the Crown Estate, for the Sultan of Brunei. It was a massive job and together with all the other contractors we brought the property up to the extremely high standards expected – complete with new cars in the garage, landscaped gardens, and a lake! 

On the day of the grand opening the Sultan attended on a red carpet and proceeded to congratulate the architects and the wider team on the projects. However, whilst walking round the property and its gardens he suddenly announced that the property was too small and decided his best option was to commission the architect to keep the front of the building as it was but design and build a completely new building behind what was twice the size of the one just completed!”

From Mario Kart To Master Plumber

Oliver’s journey into the family business wasn’t a straight path. Initially drawn to computer science, he found himself disillusioned with desk work and university life. Returning home uncertain of his future, he began working alongside his father, gradually immersing himself in the intricacies of plumbing and heating. What started as a temporary measure turned into a lifelong passion as Oliver pursued apprenticeships, qualifications, and firsthand experience to become a fully-fledged plumbing and heating engineer.

Oliver tells us: “Growing up there was always a lot of heating and hot water chat around the dinner table, particularly when dad’s company started to take off, but it certainly was never a foregone conclusion that I would one day join the business. Initially, after completing my A-levels, I enrolled at university to study Computer Science (probably a result of playing too many computer games during my adolescence!). It soon became apparent that sitting at a desk for hours on end code crunching and disassembling computers, just wasn’t going to be what I had envisaged during my Mario Kart youth! I persevered for a couple of years but didn’t complete the course. I returned home a little lost and got by doing jobs here and there for friends and acquaintances. After a while, my parents encouraged me to embark on something more permanent and advised me to start saving some money rather than just spending it all the time! I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so as a bit of a stop gap, I started going to work with dad. 

I ended up really enjoying it and eventually embarked on a proper apprenticeship with the company and completed my NVQ, as well as all the necessary gas and hot water cylinder qualifications I needed to eventually become a fully qualified Plumbing and Heating Engineer. I spent around eight years either in the office getting involved with the accounts and admin or going out with the other engineers to jobs and gaining experience on all the various aspects involved in our line of work. This gave me a thorough overview of every element of the company as well as a detailed understanding of the processes that the engineers follow when going out and meeting customers. It was important for me to gain as much knowledge as possible on the customer facing aspects as well as the office side of things.”

Learning From Mistakes And Milestones

No journey is complete without a few missteps along the way. Oliver shares a humorous anecdote from the infamous “Beast from the East” winter of 2018 when a mix-up led an engineer to fix the wrong boiler. It’s a reminder of the importance of attention to detail and the human side of the business amid the daily grind:

“You will undoubtedly remember the very cold winter of 2018, a result of easterly winds from the continent? The severe spell of cold and snow was aptly nicknamed The Beast from the East. Boilers were breaking down all over London and we were struggling to keep up with demand. Our engineers were putting in long days to ensure we were serving as many people as possible which soon began to take its toll! On one particular day, one of our engineers was directed to a property amid a big residential block near the Elephant and Castle district in London where he duly knocked on the front door and was welcomed in by the proprietor. He explained that he was there to fix the boiler and went on his way carrying out the repair, and the customer was very happy with the completed work. However, while our engineer was writing out the customer’s invoice, it became apparent that he was in the wrong flat!

It became known that a boiler on the first floor (our actual customer) had also broken down! The lesson we learned? Always check the flat or house number and the customer’s name before commencing work!”

Personalised Service, Professional Expertise

What sets Maintracts Services apart after five decades? Oliver attributes it to the perfect blend of personal touch and professional expertise. With a team that combines the responsiveness of a family-run business with the resources of a larger company, Maintracts Services ensures quick responses and tailored solutions for every customer. Whether it’s speaking directly to experienced engineers or offering swift follow-ups, the focus remains on delivering top-notch service with a personal touch.

Looking Ahead

As Maintracts Services celebrates its golden jubilee, the future looks bright. Oliver reflects on his father’s influence, describing him as patient, helpful, and ever-present – a guiding light in both business and life:

“My dad has played a pivotal role in the ongoing success of our company and in shaping the person I am today. He is a very patient, helpful, and informative father, and I’m grateful for the opportunity he has afforded me in being so involved and successful in the business. He’s fantastic at explaining things and I learned a lot from him before I went off to college, while I was in college, and even since then. I’ll often ask his opinion on something even if I’m relatively confident in the answer. Knowing that I can always turn to him is a great comfort and enabled me to develop the confidence needed for my current role within the company.

I’m not alone either! Many of our engineers will turn to dad if they come across an unusual technical problem too. They know that he will always try and help and advise them. Dad always gives us his time, even if he’s on holiday. He’s always on the end of the phone to listen with an open and approachable ear and this applies to both my life at work and at home. He even works every other weekend to afford me the opportunity to enjoy regular quality time with my young family.”

With a commitment to excellence and a dedication to customer satisfaction, Maintracts Services continues to write its story, one plumbing project at a time.

Join us in celebrating 50 years of Maintracts Services – a journey marked by innovation, resilience, and a passion for plumbing that spans generations. Here’s to the next fifty years of keeping homes warm, pipes flowing, and customers smiling. Cheers to Maintracts Services – where expertise meets excellence, every time.