Ex-Lanarkshire soldier who left the force to become a chimney sweep is up for best company award

A former Lanarkshire soldier who now runs his own chimney sweeping franchise has made the final of the prestigious Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

Kris McLernon left the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) during the pandemic after 14 years of service.

And it wasn’t until August of last year that he decided to buy his local Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise and launch an entirely different career.



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The 33-year-old from Forth has had nothing but praise on a very successful start to his new job, and he recommends others like him to follow the same path.

Kris is now looking forward to the awards finale after her nomination in the New Service Leaver category.

He told Lanarkshire Live: “I loved my time in the army but decided to leave during the pandemic; everyone advised me against it but I listened to my instincts and took the plunge. .

“Drove back to Lanarkshire, did some driving work first, then found Wilkins Chimney Sweep.”



Kris spent 14 years as a recovery mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Speaking of the franchise industry, Kris thinks people misunderstand it.

He added: “Although the company has trained me to do the job and they are on hand if I have any questions, it’s 100% me there every day, sweeping the chimneys, setting up cages, getting sooty and then returning home to work on social media media posts and ad campaigns.

“I didn’t buy myself a job, I invested in a brand with a great reputation, an existing internet presence, a large network of other franchisees and an experienced franchisor to turn to for advice, but the success of my company depends entirely on me.

“As the saying goes, I’m in business for me but not by myself.”

He continued: “Unlike a regular 9am to 5pm job, when you run your own business you never switch off, but I also have a lot more flexibility in my life.

“If I want to hang out with my daughter or attend a special event, I can, that’s a big plus for me; my agenda and my day belong to me.

“I would highly recommend anyone leaving the armed forces to consider a Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise.”

The awards recognize the achievements of former service members, their success since leaving the forces and the organizations that supported them.




The New Service Leaver category recognizes men and women who left the military less than three years ago and are already achieving great things in a second career.

Corps Col. Jason Phillips ADC REME said of his former recovery mechanic Kris, “It’s been fantastic to see Kris accomplish so much since leaving REME and in such a short time.

“He is clearly a determined, dynamic and proactive person. We are proud that our Corps has played a significant role in his journey and proud to see him reach the final of the Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

“Good luck in the final Kris, be sure to keep us posted on your successes.”

After extensive training from the franchisor, Kris now sweeps open fireplaces, wood stoves, Agas, Jetmasters, Rayburns and Biomass Boilers and installs lids and hoods for cages in homes and Lanarkshire businesses.

Operations manager Richard Bryan, who coached Kris, said: “I knew he was going to be good from the start of training. Kris is organized, focused and disciplined.

“He picked it up very quickly. He regularly uses our company’s WhatsApp group, tapping into the brains of fellow franchisees, who have been running their own businesses and sweeping chimneys for many years.”

Franchise manager Lisa Kimber added, “After only six months, Kris is doing an incredible job, well ahead of what we expected of him at this point.

“He’s very independent, continually coming up with new ideas to market and publicize his business. He thinks for himself but always checks with head office first, which is great.

“Kris is highly driven and his clients really appreciate him. It usually takes a while for a balayage to get word of mouth referrals, but only six months in and he’s getting them on a regular basis, a huge testament to the service he gets.” he gives.”

Kris will find out if he makes it at a glitzy awards ceremony at the Hilton in Glasgow on May 25.

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