After leaving school at sixteen with exceptional skills and good results in woodwork, technical drawing and art, Mike started a five year indentured apprenticeship with a joinery manufacturer, making doors, windows, cabinets for local building companies.
During this time Mike also attended college and further developed his skills in specialist brickwork and wood finishing. He also developed a coating for new wood that gave an aged finish, which opened up the opportunity to adapt this to beams, planking and wall panelling. This was successfully supplied to several companies in London, Nottingham, Leicester, Sheffield, Scunthorpe and Doncaster, including Wimpey Homes, Bovis, Fairclough and several breweries who wanted a traditional wooden look when converting their pubs.
Mike then spent several years as a fireplace designer, selling and installing stoves, fires, and special features, including a number of displays for what was at the time, the largest fireplace showroom in the UK covering three floors.
After opening his own fireplace shop in Scunthorpe, joined by his two sons, even more displays were developed, and reputation grew as a skilled and trusted restorer of old fireplaces. Within six months they opened another showroom which had over fifty fireplaces. The showrooms were quickly extended in order to be able to sell fireplaces and stoves, in addition to the fireplace surrounds which are manufactured by Mike, and which he still makes and sells today.
Mike’s experience is in all areas of fires and fireplaces was confirmed when he became one of the first installers to go on the Hetas registration scheme.
After trading for ten years, sales dropped as online sales of mass produced products took over, with the knock-on effect that two showrooms had to close. It was during this time that Mike designed a new product that simplified the stove installation process. Several third parties took an interest in purchasing the rights to the product, but ultimately Mike launched it himself calling it 'The Stove Box', and formed a company under the name Unique Stove Products Ltd.
The Stove Box range has expanded over the years and more tools have been developed each with the sole purpose of making the installation of fires and fireplaces easier, cleaner, quicker and safer. Each product has been patented or registered with the IPO.