Anne Timpany is an incredibly successful business woman in what is an extremely male dominated industry.
Originally from New Zealand, Anne came to the UK in the early noughties and met her Albanian husband Raf. Together, they founded On Tap Plumbing. Not only does Anne manage a 50+ workforce and 7 apprentices, she also campaigns to encourage young adults and women to join the construction business. She has recently received the Freeman of the City of London and is now installed as a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, one of London’s oldest liveries. She regularly provides her insight and expertise at industry events.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m a New Zealander and have lived in the UK since 2003. I’m a Mum to 3 boys. The
ATRA Group, which I co-founded along with my husband, started as a small domestic plumbing firm and is now a multi-million pound mechanical building services firm operating in London. Within my role as CEO I manage the money, strategy and marketing of the company.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No I didn’t! I wanted to be a journalist and achieved a BA Hons in English literature and Theatre. I was initially working in hospitality in marketing and events when I was made redundant in 2009. My husband who is a plumber wanted to set-up on his own, so I said ‘you know how to plumb and I know a bit about marketing and sales, so why don’t we put our heads together’ and On Tap Plumbers was born. I never imagined I would end up working in construction. I’m not passionate about plumbing but I am passionate about business and if I was to go back in time, I would probably have studied topics around business management
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Everyday presents a challenge but overcoming them builds resilience. Our business has doubled in size a few times over the course of its existence My main role in the company is managing the money. I don’t have financial qualifications and have had to learn along the way, so online accounting software has been really helpful. We’ve used Xero for the past seven years and it’s made the financial side of the business a lot easier to manage. I’ve always sought advice from trusted advisors in areas that I don’t understand and acted on it.
The biggest challenges in scaling a business up as quickly as we have is cashflow and financing, but our accounting software has helped by giving us a more accurate view of our finances. 2018 was our most challenging year because we grew too fast but as we have evolved, re-branded and changed our business model we have managed to pull through and 2019 is looking very promising. I believe you can only succeed once you have failed, women don’t start businesses often because of their fears and insecurities but once you have experienced the worst you could imagine and overcome it – then you are set to be highly successful.
Is it possible to anticipate challenges?
You never know what life is going to throw at you and most of the time it’s not possible to predict possible hurdles. I think the best way to try and get one step ahead is to network.
Take time to check in with colleagues, or other people within the industry, on what challenges they’ve faced or are facing and stay informed on industry news.
It’s also important to ensure that you are compliant to avoid any unwanted fines or penalties. Read up, or speak with an accountant, about what legislation impacts your business. For example, in the construction world we must adhere to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) where we must deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HMRC, as well as Making Tax Digital – the government’s new scheme meaning VAT returns now have to be submitted digitally if you’re over the threshold. Legislation like this can be a lot to get your head around, so we’ve looked at ways to make that easier, and less of a headache. We use Xero which is HMRC complaint, and makes submitting CIS digitally a breeze.
My advice – don’t panic – instead, just seek advice from someone who’s in the know.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
We are very proud of having worked on a number of high profile and landmark developments in central London including Facebook HQ, Amazon HQ, The Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
We have excellent relationships with our supply chain who are often overlooked in our industry. Our supply chain has opened doors for us with new clients and enabled us to grow our business through extending payment terms etc when we needed it.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I would welcome the opportunity to mentor and am excited that Natwest have invited me to be a mentor on their Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme. We have an excellent apprenticeship programme at ATRA Living and we feel very passionately about developing the future generation. Our mission has always been to raise the standards of the trades and construction industry and I’m working on a new business that would incorporate a mentor element
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
Encourage women not to be afraid to speak up if they see an opportunity. Be confident and value yourself, if you aren’t confident and value yourself then why should your boss? If you don’t ask you won’t get!
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Absolutely nothing, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I made mistakes in my past but without making mistakes I wouldn’t have learnt to be who I am today.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I am looking to diversify my portfolio and generate a guaranteed consistent income. I am taking my experience and launching a new business this year that will support, train and develop business owners in the construction industry on a global scale.