RELEASED: 00:00 07. June 2019
David Marley meets Derbyshire entrepreneur Jennie Mills, who traded her career as a Hollywood film diver for a company that is restoring homes and properties destroyed by water and fire
Two women fight for their lives as water bubbles into a cellar where they are trapped. The water has reached a very high level when one of the women finds her leg entangled, forcing the other to dive down to free her.
And to make matters worse, a psychotic killer armed with a weapon wants to do them harm. Since it's hard to break away from the killer's claws, it does not look good for the entangled couple – and it's hard to imagine how they escape.
Then unexpectedly the tension is broken. A resounding hum sends a producer's message to a team of divers in the water, telling them to take action. When Jennie Mills heard the command, she swam to help the women and put a regulator in her mouth with the utmost precision. Seconds later, the women are safely afloat.
It was Fall 2013 and Jennie, a commercial diver, was eager to make the safety arrangements for filming an underwater scene wool pack as part of a one-hour special held by ITV's Emmerdale,
The intense action was recorded on the underwater stage at Pinewood Studios near London. "I worked for two years as a freelance freelance media diver at Pinewood and it was an amazing experience," says Jennie. "For many underwater actors it may seem a bit surreal and dreamy at first, but it was a special part of these dramatic scenes with actors Charley Webb (who plays Debbie Dingle), Lucy Pargeter (Chas Dingle) and Dominic Power To be (Cameron Murray). & # 39;
When the Pinewood Studios opened their gigantic underwater stage, they were quickly flooded with inquires to film television programs, commercials, pop videos, and photo shoots. "The tank holds over a million liters of water filtered with a sophisticated UV system, creating the perfect conditions for the work of cast members and crew members," she says.
Jennie worked as part of a specialized media dive company called Diving Services UK and also assisted with underwater security for a number of Hollywood blockbusters, including the Impossible mission and Kingsman global movie franchise. "I suppose it was an extraordinary way to earn a living – there are probably not that many girls from Codnor who can claim to have worked on a movie with Tom Cruise," she grins.
Working in the Hollywood film industry seems to be a world away from Jennie's childhood. She attended Waingrove Primary School, then Tibshelf Community School, where she became Head Girl.
"I think I was a bit bossy at school. I've never been so academic and I've preferred to be more practical, "she recalls. My parents ran businesses in Jacksdale, Nottinghamshire. Mama ran a post office and dad had a butcher's shop. "
When Jennie left school, she worked for a transport company in Nottingham, but struggled to find her new role. "As a teenager, I've always enjoyed diving, and I thought I could use my hobby to gain better life experiences."
She packed a bag and set off for Egypt and did a special course to earn the Open Water Diving Certificate (PADI) from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. When she was 18 years old, Jennie had passed the course and was one of the youngest British diving instructors in the UK. For the next four years, she traveled around the world to teach people the art of diving.
It was an amazing time of my life. I visited Greece and Australia and spent a summers summer on a 45-foot catamaran in the Caribbean, "she recalls. "I also spent seven months in Iceland and even had the opportunity to dive with American actor Ben Stiller."
By now, in her early twenties, Jennie missed Derbyshire, her friends and family. She bought a house in Chesterfield and was looking for a job as a commercial diver to travel to and train in Scotland. After completing her training, she began working at Pinewood Studios as a security diver in the film industry. After two years of weekly commuting to London, however, she decided to look for something closer. "The decision to return in the long run was very difficult, especially since I worked so hard to get where I was," she says. & # 39; Then a family friend mentioned the opportunity to buy a Rainbow International franchise, a company active in the insurance sector and people whose homes are affected by fire and water damage, restorative and Cleaning services. The franchise included Dronfield, Bakewell, Matlock, Belper and Ashbourne and beyond – and that really touched me. & # 39;
With the support of her mother Fay, Jennie secured the financing for the purchase of the business and they became business partners.
"The senior management at Rainbow International's headquarters was wonderful and very encouraging," she explains. "They told me that the skills I had acquired during my diving years showed that I could follow the rules and guidelines that made me an excellent person to take their standards."
Jennie and Fay had to quickly set up an office and hire a team of specialized administrators and technicians. Much of the work of Jennie's Rainbow International Derbyshire franchise is being sent to her by the company's headquarters, which has completed a number of key contracts with major high street insurance companies.
"Every day, we receive calls from headquarters that alert us to land that has suffered water ingress or fire damage," she says. "And it's up to us to investigate the scale of the problem before we contact the insurers and start restoring the original condition of the home or business premises."
No two days are the same for Jennie and her team of seasoned restorers and office clerks. "One day we can visit a property where a water tank burst in an attic. We need to test how damp the walls are and provide dehumidifiers and fans to start desiccating, "she explains. "Then we can go the next moment to a commercial area that has been devastated by a fire."
Although fire-damaged items often can not be repaired, Jennie's team of French special-purpose polishers has succeeded in many cases in restoring the furniture to its original condition. "If this is not possible, we will ensure that all destroyed items are properly disposed of," she adds.
Jennie has also begun to develop her own clientele, leading the team to a variety of projects. "We helped a landlord with the basic cleaning and restored the kitchen and bathroom after a negligent tenant left." She has also entered into new partnerships with insurers such as the National Farmers' Union.
Recently Jennie was even asked to put on her old scuba gear for an unusual cleaning request. "My client asked me to put on my scuba gear and dive to the bottom of a lake owned by him to clear algae deposits – and it was great to use my diving skills in my new business," she notes.
Jennie has a passion for her franchise, and by hiring a team of professional and hardworking employees, she has been able to quickly expand and grow her business. For the first four years, she saw three-digit business growth year-over-year, allowing her to repay all of her mother's borrowed money.
"When I started, I set myself some very strict performance goals," she explains. "So it is very gratifying to know that I met these challenges and exceeded many of them a year earlier than forecasted. That way, I was able to settle my business loan within three years instead of the full five-year term. & # 39;
Her impressive financial acumen has earned recognition and praise from the industry. She has twice won the prestigious franchisee of the month award with Rainbow International. And in 2017, Jennie's administrator Katie Russell was honored as the young leader of the year at the company's annual conference in Nottingham.
Earlier this year, Jennie was nominated as the Young Franchisee of the Year 2019 at the 2019 British Franchise Association Awards, which will be conducted in collaboration with HSBC bank. She also has big plans for the years to come. "We want to move into new offices in 2019 – and we've just taken over the keys to new storage and restoration space in Langley Mill," she says. "I am looking forward to the future."
Now that Jennie has made the transition from the movie world to building an expanding commercial franchise business, part of her success is being open to new things. "The industry I work in is traditionally dominated by men or couples working together, but as a female leader, I would say that this has often been an asset to me," she says.
"I literally took the plunge and am flexible, with no prejudice about what to expect, I could say yes to so many things that others would have rejected – and that was very rewarding and a lot of fun." All the more impressive given that this talented Entrepreneur from Derbyshire is not yet close to her thirtieth year.
For more information about Rainbow International Derbyshire, call 01623 443109