No matter how high tech the business world may get, there’s one constant: The world will always need plumbers. Perhaps that’s why it’s comforting to hear about plumbers who really love their profession. Occasionally, we hear about plumbers whose families have been in the business for as long as 50 years, but in Southampton, England, there’s a plumber who has single-handedly been working at the job for more than six decades — and he still loves his work.
Meet Albert Keates, who holds the unofficial title of World’s Oldest Plumber. Keates worked as a plumber for a staggering 65 years in Southampton, England until he finally retired in 2012 at the age of 80.
In 1946, Keates left school at the age of 15 and began training as a plumber’s apprentice, working for a salary of just three pence an hour. Over the decades, Keates worked for a number of plumbing companies until he was finally able to start his own in 1967. The business was so successful that he had to employ seven other plumbers to handle all the work. By the time he retired in March 2012, Keates estimated that he probably repaired a total of 68,000 leaky taps, a feat that should probably garner him the title of World’s Best Plumber as well.
At the time of his retirement in 2011, Keates was making more than £42 (or $56) an hour — but as he would be the first to tell you, the important thing in his career wasn’t the money; it was about the pride he took in his profession.
What is the secret of Keates’ success? Perhaps it’s the fact that, according to this interview with the Daily Mail, he always viewed plumbing as something of an art form. As a skilled craftsman, Keates is an expert in some of the industry’s oldest plumbing techniques that were handed down to him by his mentors. He took pride in doing his job and doing it well, which is evident by the fact that his customers kept coming back, year after year.
In the Daily Mail interview, Keates pointed out that plumbing is a highly sociable job; since he loves people, it was a perfect fit for his personality. Added to that is the fact that plumbing is a profession that Keates has always enjoyed, even after working at it for more than six decades. In the end, it’s obvious that Keates’ keen enjoyment of his profession and his customers, coupled with his pride in a job well done, has been the key to his success and made him worthy of his title as the World’s Oldest Plumber.