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Ben Pike

Ben Pike on reviving business energy

By Ben Pike

Account Director, Heatcomp

When Ben Pike began his apprenticeship at the age of 16 after helping a friend in the plumbing industry, it ignited a fortuitous path in the sector and in business.

With qualifications and experience under his belt, Ben joined forces with his brother-in-law Daryl Davies to become business partners in HeatComp, a heating and plumbing company established in 2014.

The business grew organically, scaling up in turnover and workload to the point where the small team decided to focus on commercial work as a conduit to future maintainable growth.

Can you give us some examples of the projects and clients that HeatComp works with?

Commercial is 90% of our workload. We have a very small residential portfolio, which comes from existing clients that I've had since I was an apprentice.

We have a main focus on Light commercial settings which are our main area of clientele – places like care homes and vets schools. One of our bigger clients has 22 care homes and we look after all the gas, heating, and plumbing, air conditioning, in those care homes – that can be reactive call-outs or changing boilers, bathrooms, and any general plumbing and heating.

We have another category of clients which is contracting – we do complete contracts like fit-outs and refurbishments.

Then our third Portfolio of clients who don’t necessarily subscribe to us for a contract but give Enquiry when they have something they need help with.

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You take pride in client relationships and customer satisfaction, what are some of the ways you do that?

I’ve always been a people person, and I get my energy from making people happy or solving their issues.

I like to go that extra step in improving things for clients, either financially or efficiently. Instead of just fixing the immediate issue, I try to think about fixing the bigger picture and forward-thinking anything that could come up in the future.

What are the hot topics in the industry at the moment?

I think the main thing at the moment is efficiency. Carbon footprint is a hot topic in all industries, but definitely in ours.

I’m keeping an eye on where the shift is going to go – it seems like it’s going towards heat pumps but there’s always the agenda of hydrogen, and solar is doing as well too. The agenda to make the commercial sector more efficient is a hot topic – our clients are looking for it and we’re looking to supply them with options.

"I've always been a people person, and I get my energy from making people happy or solving their issues."

What is one piece of advice that you give to all your clients?

Understand your heating system. A lot of people just switch it on, and they don’t control it to only be on when you need it. If you do that on a consistent basis, it can save a substantial amount of energy and money.

We’re trialling a type of remote sensing at the care homes, where you can control each individual radiator off-site. Understanding the controllability of a heating system is easy to learn and can save a lot of money.

You started out in the industry as an apprentice, is that something that resonates in the business today?

We’ve just had the completion of an apprenticeship improver – the stage between an apprentice and a fully qualified engineer.

Both my business partner and I did an apprenticeship and it served us well so it’s something that we’re both passionate about in terms of giving a bit back to the industry.

What direction do you want to take the business in the future?

Five years ago, we were getting so busy that we just worked even harder, because it was all we new. I remember working at Windsor Barracks in the daytime and on an NHS job in the nighttime – we worked about 20 hours consecutively for several days.

It got to a point where we realised that it wasn’t sustainable, and we met (fellow Old Bond Store member) Andy Hollands who has helped us to define our roles and plan. I now look after account management and Daryl runs the operations.

We have similar challenges now, but we just know how to deal with them. We’ve got targets to grow and a plan on how to build a structure to help us achieve that growth.

"We have similar challenges now, but we just know how to deal with them. We've got targets to grow and a plan on how to build a structure to help us achieve that growth."

Ben Pike- Account Director, Heatcomp

Are there any lessons that you’ve learned that you wish you’d known when you started the business?

I’m a big believer in not regretting anything I’ve done because I always think that it happened for a reason.

If anything, I wish we’d got some guidance earlier. It would have been useful to have a business coach or mentor to give that bit of advice – I think that would have eliminated a lot of mistakes we made. But from the mistakes we did make, we did learn.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I like reading; I read every day and I’m passionate about personal development.

I’m very family-orientated; I’ve got two kids.

I’m like researching the best way to keep myself fit and healthy attending the gym, with running and cycling also looking into what foods and supplement your body can benefit from.

I also love music. One of my goals for this year is to get out and see more live music. We’re going to Victorious festival, and I’d like to go to more smaller gigs too.

As an avid reader, which books do you particularly enjoy?

The book that always sticks in my mind is Alan Sugar’s What You See Is What You Get, it was one of the first books I read, and it got me into reading. I also enjoyed The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and The Snowball by Warren Buffett.

Ben Pike portrait