The Apprentice winner Joseph Valente has spoken of the valuable role played by tycoon Lord Sugar in the expansion of his plumbing business.
Qualified plumber Mr Valente has been using the £250,000 investment made by Lord Sugar to grow his plumbing and heating business Impra-Gas and to give it a new look.
Mr Valente secured a 50/50 partnership with Lord Sugar after coming out on top in the gruelling 12 weeks-long BBC1 show The Apprentice last year.
He said: “Winning The Apprentice has opened up a new world for me. It has been both exciting and stressful.”
Lord Sugar’s investment has made it possible to install a new jobs scheduling system, refurbish the warehouse and rebrand the business with new staff uniforms, new vehicles and new signage.
Mr Valente said: “Since the show I have only met with Lord Sugar a couple of times and both were at his offices in London.
“Lord Sugar is available if I want his help. He has organised and set up the finances, has reviewed the business plan and has been making sure we’re taking the right steps.
“But I’m the master in my own business. Lord Sugar is strong willed but so am I.
He added: “It’s early days and there has been no reason for us to clash.”
It may only be three months since Mr Valente was crowned winner of the The Apprentice but he says his business, based at Yaxley’s Eagle Business Park, is already scaling new heights.
He said “Business has really taken off.
“I now have clients that are large organisations, such as the AA, Corgi, Helplink and Neste, that I could only have dreamt off before the TV show.
“Now they are coming to me. What more can I ask for?”
Impra-Gas provides services, maintenance and installation of all plumbing, heating and electrical products to property management companies, landlords and private homeowners.
Mr Valente said he had ambitious plans to grow the business over the next five years.
He hopes for a multi-million pound turnover and for its 12 staff to reach 50 to 100.