Former electrical engineer makes clean sweep of his career

Matthew Rippon had a flash of inspiration while on his daily commute to Sheffield – he would leave his job and take a new broom to his career for 2016.

So he left his electrical engineering job of 15 years just before Christmas and set up as a chimney sweep, with help of the business support programme SmartStart. And already the work is coming in.

Matthew, who runs his business called Clear Sweep from his home at Oxspring, near Penistone, said: “I was leaving home at 6 in the morning and getting home at 6 at night. I have a young family and I thought ‘this is crazy. I hardly see my children and I won’t get this time again.’

“So I took the plunge and said goodbye to the salary and company car and decided I would be my own boss.”

The idea of becoming a chimney sweep had been smouldering in Matthew’s mind for some months before he finally made the decision.

“We have an open fire in our cottage and I used to watch the chimney sweep and think I could probably do that,” said Matthew.

After training with the Institute of Chimney Sweeps in Kent, Matthew invested in 20 specialist brushes, three bespoke rods and an industrial vacuum cleaner. He then turned to SmartStart, which is provided by Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC), working in partnership with Barnsley Council, for business support.

“Their support has been fantastic,” said Matthew. “I might have a trade, but I am not so confident when it comes to book-keeping, websites and marketing. And that’s where their help has come in.”

BBIC business development manager Sarah Valentine-Bull said: “Matthew is just the type of would-be entrepreneur we are looking for; someone who wants to be their own boss and whose business may well expand in the future to create more jobs.”

During the summer months when the demand for chimney sweeps is lower Matthew plans to offer landscape gardening.

“I’ve always been a keen gardener and so that seems an obvious extra to offer. And I have already got enquiries. So it really is a case of a clean sweep for the new year,” said Matthew.

Anyone interested in starting up their own business can attend a Startup Open Day at BBIC on Tuesday, January 19.

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Matthew Rippon of Clear Sweep
Matthew Rippon of Clear Sweep

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