Highlighting Britain’s Plasterers: Paul Mulinganie & Gary Blackburn (Part Four)

Highlighting Britain’s Plasterers: Paul Mulinganie & Gary Blackburn (Part Four)

As British Gypsum celebrates 100 years in the industry it wants to champion the trade and has been out on the road meeting some of the unsung plastering heroes. In this fourth feature, British Gypsum catches up with some of its Plaster Demonstrators – Paul Mulinganie and Gary Blackburn.

Key facts

Name: Paul Mulinganie, Gary Blackburn

Years in trade: 32, 39

Location: West Midlands, East Midlands

Favourite trowel: Marshalltown Tyzack Centenary

Favourite plaster: Thistle Magnetic Plaster, PureFinish

Favourite radio station: Rock music on any station because it gets you working, Radio 2

The Plaster Demonstrators are there to help, either on site or over the phone, with any aspect of applying British Gypsum’s new or existing plasters.

On starting out:

Paul: I started out as an apprentice when I left school at just fifteen years of age. It was one in which you could work your way up and I learned all my key skills for plastering, rendering and skimming there. I worked my way up to a site manager, then supervisor and also became a fully qualified NVQ assessor.

Gary: I have been working in the plastering trade for 39 years now. I remember there was a careers workshop in my school on the construction sector. When plastering was mentioned I thought, “that sounds alright” and I have never looked back. It is difficult to truly get across the job satisfaction plastering brings – I still love it to this day.

On the plastering trade:

Paul: Often when I meet with plasterers they ask me how I have gotten to where I am. You can see they are forward thinking and in a few years time they will have made their way up to become site managers and supervisors.

We can pass on what we have been taught to this new generation while also introducing them to new products and their capabilities. If we can continue giving back to the industry in this way I think plastering will be safe for the next 100 years and beyond.

“If we can continue giving back to the industry in this way I think plastering will be safe for the next 100 years and beyond.” Paul Mulinganie

Gary: As a plasterer you are constantly aiming for perfection, but at the end of the day we are still human beings and finding that perfection is practically impossible, but we still always look for it. The job satisfaction is immense – you walk in somewhere and it is a mess but when you walk out the walls are there, ready to decorate. Those walls could still be there in 200 years time.

On their favourite products

Paul: Thistle Magnetic Plaster is my favourite product to work with – it is the best that is out there at the moment. As a plasterer, all you do is look at walls and ceilings all your life. With the magnetic plaster you can work on something and it comes to life.

Gary: For me it is Thistle PureFinish, no question. The benefits it brings to the customer are immense. It is a finish plaster with ACTIVair technology, which takes the VOCs out of the air, reducing exposure to formaldehyde and so making it healthier to work with.

Pictured: Paul. Pictured Above: Gary

On their roles as British Gypsum plasterer demonstrators:

Paul: We give a massive amount of support on both domestic and commercial projects. Sometimes the products might not be easy to use at first so we are there to give advice on how to use them, but we are also there to help in other ways. We spend so much time with the plasterers both in person and then on the phone afterwards that many have become our friends.

Working as a plasterer demonstrator for such a huge company in the industry is truly brilliant – it is something any plasterer would aspire to. We are not there to change people; we are there to help them and are getting some really positive feedback as we do that.

Gary: What I love most about being a plasterer demonstrator is that we are at the forefront of the industry. Every day we are introducing new products to plasterers across the country and with this we have the potential to shape the future of plastering.

The range of products and their capabilities is getting better; adding more value and benefits to not just the installer, but crucially to their customers. As such, the plasterers can increase their earning potential because they are armed with the right knowledge and with innovative products from the offset.

We work with the plasterers in a different way, depending on their needs. We can advise on different products that they may not have been aware of and this gives us the opportunity to see how people develop their business.

For the rest of this series, click here, here and here.

For more articles on plastering click here.

On life lessons:

Paul: I recently taught two plasterers. One has since set up his own firm and the other is now a QS Assessor. Watching these people succeed does give me pride – I am happy to see what can happen when you are willing to give back to the industry.

“The industry is moving and it is great to see the new generation of plasterers moving with us. We’re just the old guys now!” Gary Blackburn
Gary: Never give up! Learning can be difficult at first but with hard work and perseverance you can succeed.

The industry is moving and it is great to see the new generation of plasterers moving with us. We’re just the old guys now!

The Plaster Demonstrators form part of British Gypsum’s commitment to supporting the industry. Paul and Gary cover the West and East Midlands respectively and Lee Appleton is a Plaster Demonstrator for Hertfordshire and North London.

They are available to help with any aspect of applying new or existing plasters and can also pass on their years of knowledge and experience across products, techniques and challenges in the process. To book a demo, email plasterdemo@saint-gobain.com

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