'I started as a roofer on £20 a day - this is how I got to making £2million a year'

Ollie Piotrowski has made a career in property -Credit:Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News
Ollie Piotrowski has made a career in property -Credit:Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News

Ollie Piotrowski spent his teenage years cycling an hour to work earning £20 a day as a roofer to scrimp and save enough from his job to buy his first property. Developing and re-selling his first terraced house that he bought for £30,000 would set into motion what has now become a £2m a year property business.

Now Ollie is celebrating the ten year anniversary of his investment and property development company Pinnacle Holdings - and he's reflecting on exactly how he got to where he is today.

Ollie did it all without family money or direct access to investors at the start - instead teaching himself and learning the hard way how to become a successful entrepreneur. His business has seen him build new homes and consult on a collective portfolio of £500m worth of investments.

READ MORE: 'Dragons' Den made me cry - but now I've made my first million'

Ollie now lives in Lancashire with his fiancée, Hollyoaks star Jorgie Porter, and will appear in Jorgie's new ITV documentary series Drama Queens which starts on Wednesday, April 10. He will be seen working on some of his property projects in the show, as well as his side project as co-owner of the Transpire leisurewear business.

He now hopes to inspire other young people that 'anything is possible'. Ollie says: "A lot of my own backstory was imposter syndrome, so really for me now it's about inspiring the younger generation of how anything is possible. I started from the small stuff, went on to massive stuff and now I've been all around the world.

"I've never really spoken about my business before - but I'm 35 now, with two kids, planning on getting married, so I feel like now is the right time to try and push and inspire the next generation.

"When I was growing up there was no real support, the education system doesn't drive people to be entrepreneurial. Unless you have a family that will back you with that, then how do you even get to that point?

"When you see people on social media flashing their fancy cars it doesn't really give you the tools to succeed. Life is not just about how much money you've got, it's about the journey and bringing the best out of people."

Ollie hard at work on one of his property projects -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings
Ollie hard at work on one of his property projects -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings

Down-to-earth Ollie, who grew up in Chorlton, set up Pinnacle when he was 24. Relying on his instinct for calculated risks, a gritty determination and the tenacity to teach himself about the worlds of business, finance and investment he has grown it to a business with a £2m annual turnover.

As a consultant, Ollie, 35, also advises high net-worth individuals – from international footballers to billionaire business people – on multi-million pound investments, from buying into hotels – such as the purchase of the Nobu Hotel in London, to facilitating the purchase of helicopters. His consultation projects have a combined worth of more than £500m.

It's a far cry from how it all started for Ollie - when he left home at just 16. He completed his GCSEs but then wanted to get straight out and earn money.

"I had naïve independence and thought that I could become a roofer and take over the world," Ollie told the M.E.N. "I tried to do it the hard way, so I was roofing for years, earning next to nothing. I was planning to go into the armed services but failed the medical due to an issue with my ears so I was left living in a bedsit wondering what the heck I was going to do - so I just worked really hard.

"I was roofing in the day, going to college at nights and studying for my diploma in construction, and just saved up all my money. From the ages of 16 to 20 I managed to save up £30,000."

Ollie was inspired by his Polish grandad Zdzislaw Piotrowski, who survived being taken to a Concentration Camp in the former Czechoslavakia during the Second World War at the age of 16. After surviving the horrors of war, he went on to meet his wife, and they moved to England to forge a new life.

"My grandad was my absolute hero, he moved to England not speaking any English, but managed to get a job, saved up his money, provided for six kids and had his own home," Ollie said.

"He always instilled that belief in me that you can do anything. He said to me about saving money and said 'all that matters is having a roof over your head'. His attitude to life inspired me."

Ollie's work ethic is inspired by his Polish grandfather -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings
Ollie's work ethic is inspired by his Polish grandfather -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings

With his grandad's words in his head, he went to get his first foot on the property ladder with a £30,000 property in Chorley.

"So I went to auction and bought myself my first house with everything that I had, and just lived in it and learned how to property develop - in at the deep end - while living there. It was a tiny terraced house in Chorley," Ollie said.

"I did that, developed it and flipped it, I turned my £30,000 into £65,000, having spent around £15,000 doing it up. But I thought 'wow, this is amazing I can be independent, I do not have to answer to anyone and I can go on my own route in life'.

"But I didn't really understand the complexities of business, and tax, needing an accountant, needing a lawyer, it was all that stuff I didn't know enough about.

"I went on to do a second property with a friend and that was probably a mistake, we tried to mix and mash our money, so I got out of that one. On my third attempt I thought 'how can I be different, how can I stand out?'

"So I spent a few months looking into investments and what I could do with my £70,000 that I had made at that point - and that is when I created Pinnacle. The idea was to create a company that doesn't take an investor's money, it advises an investor of where to put the money while partnering on it with them. Instead of me taking their money I advise them and take a cut at the end, so that was the start of Pinnacle."

Ollie with his fiancee, Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter -Credit:Carl Sukonik/TheVain.co.uk
Ollie with his fiancee, Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter -Credit:Carl Sukonik/TheVain.co.uk

In reality, he says, it took him a year to find someone who would invest. "My lack of having anyone wealthy around me, or understanding how those social circles work, I spent the first nine months sitting in the wrong places to look for an investor and that didn't work," he said.

"So I started to wear a suit and just sit in fancy hotels in London! So this particular time I met a Saudi Arabian general, I started talking to him, I told him my back story, and he was one of the first people to invest with me and we did a development together that was really successful."

He also got an investor on a barn project in Eccleston in Lancashire. "I met another client in a hotel, I was just sat there working on my laptop and we got chatting. I think it's a lot to do with hustle and backing yourself," he adds.

The importance of believing in yourself is something Ollie really wants to put across to other young people. "I want to say 'it is possible, you have to believe in yourself'. You don't have to have a fancy car or watch on Instagram to prove it.

"Sharing my own experience when I go on site now, I've had many a conversation with people who work for me, I can really show them that I spent six, seven years of my life on roofs, freezing, earning hardly any money and cycling an hour each way to work. I want my own team to know they can be successful in their own right."

Ollie adds that his last decade in business has brought its fair share of highs and lows, with COVID bringing some of Pinnacle’s most challenging times. "Pinnacle’s model is based on making profit on the initial investment, so if a scheme breaks even or worse, the business doesn’t turn black ink. The model works well, but there have been times where I have had to swallow my share of losses.

"When the pandemic hit, we were on site on two separate developments, but everything ground to a halt. I was responsible for covering all the costs while the market was at a complete standstill. It was an extremely stressful time and we had to dig deep – mentally and financially – to keep the business going.

"The fallout from Brexit also caused us significant problems, as our margins were squeezed as the cost of materials sky-rocketed. The business requires a lot of mental resilience but I’ve always drawn strength from my grandad, who always reminded us that if we have food on the table and a roof over our heads, we’re doing ok. If I can cover the basics for me and my family, I’m happy."

Ollie also gained a different perspective on life after his best friend Josh Riley was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 22; he sadly died in 2015 aged just 27. Ollie has been supporting Josh's mum with the charity foundation set up in his memory to raise funds to build a countryside logde so that families and young people with cancer have somewhere to go and enjoy breaks and make happy memories.

Ollie's current projects

CGI of one of Pinnacle's current projects in Chester - a luxurious riverside home -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings
CGI of one of Pinnacle's current projects in Chester - a luxurious riverside home -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings

Pinnacle are currently working across £35million worth of investments across three sites in Cheshire.

Ollie and his team are developing what may well become Chester’s most expensive residential property - a Selling Sunsets style five-bedroom, 5,000sqft modern riverside home. Elevated on stilts and complete with luxury high-end technology and multiple outside living terraces, it wouldn't look out of place on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah and is set to go on the market for £5m+ this summer.

Meanwhile Aldersley Oaks, in the picturesque village of Tattenhall in Cheshire, is Pinnacle’s 61-dwelling development, comprising 2, 3, 4 and 5-bedroom homes. The £20m plus development is 80 per cent complete, with the remaining homes due for completion by summer 2024.

Pinnacle is also developing a luxury gated development in the Cheshire village of Davenham, near Northwich, comprising four new build homes, a barn conversion and the sensitive renovation of a grade II listed building. The development is due for completion in summer 2025. Properties are expected to go for around £1.5million each.

Ollie on site in Davenham where his team are converting this Grade II listed building -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings
Ollie on site in Davenham where his team are converting this Grade II listed building -Credit:Pinnacle Holdings

Inspired by Ollie’s love of fitness and getting out to enjoy nature with his family, Pinnacle’s plan for a luxurious off-grid resort will be a foray into luxury hospitality, with a twist. The Minimo scheme will comprise of a premium off-grid resort in the beautiful British countryside, promising to create a stunning retreat from the pressures of modern life, allowing residents to get back to nature in five-star comfort.

"Plans are well advanced to bring Minimo to life," Ollie said. "We have a site picked out and we’re currently working through planning permissions. This will be an exciting venture for Pinnacle – providing opportunity for investors to get involved with a dynamic and exciting scheme that will fill a gap in the hospitality market."

Ten years on, Ollie reflects on his journey and says: "It’s been a real rollercoaster, but the best feeling about this job is knowing that we are creating homes that are integral to people's lives. That feels really special to me.

"The team at Pinnacle are a fantastic team of talented individuals and it has been my pleasure to see them grow and help the business to create beautiful homes and make shrewd investments for clients. As well as giving cause to look back and celebrate, this year will also act as a huge transition for Pinnacle, bringing to life projects that I hope will help to change lives for the better."

On starring in Drama Queens

Ollie and Jorgie at the MEN Pride of Manchester Awards in 2022 -Credit:Getty Images
Ollie and Jorgie at the MEN Pride of Manchester Awards in 2022 -Credit:Getty Images

Ollie will be joining his partner Jorgie in front of the cameras for new ITV show Drama Queens. The couple are parents to one-year-old baby son Forest, and have been together for the past four years.

Although Ollie admits showbiz is not his natural habitat. "I'm lucky that I've got used to it over the years with Jorgie, but I'm doing the show to support Jorgie," he said.

"She loves reality TV, she's sucked me into watching things like The Kardashians, Married at First Sight, so it's to support her really, it's never been my desire to be a reality star! But I've enjoyed it."

They've been together for four years, although they've known each other for 10 years. Ollie recalls: "We first met 10 years ago at a bar in Manchester, Neighbourhood. We dated for a few months but the showbiz lifestyle that Jorgie was in, it wasn't for me at that time in my life.

"Over the next five, six years in between, we randomly bumped into each other every now and again, and Jorgie really believes in fate, although I'm quite cynical.

"But then one night I was staying at a hotel in London, it just so happened she was staying at the hotel too. I was having a lunch with a client and she was sat a couple of tables away. So we then rekindled it from there and the rest is history," he beams.

Looking to the future

Ollie has big ambitions for the future -Credit:Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News
Ollie has big ambitions for the future -Credit:Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News

Pinnacle’s plans for the next few years will see a shift in focus, to fulfil Ollie’s personal passion to bring about real social change. His dream is to build and manage an estate of premium quality children’s homes, with a unique model that supports residents in practical and financial ways.

He told the M.E.N he is in talks with councils across the north west with the aim of opening 10 homes in the next five years.

"Pinnacle will be entering the children’s care home sector, but with the aim of changing the experience of children going through the care system for the better," he said. "This includes setting up individual trust funds for the children to access when they’re older, to spend on education or buying their own home.

"We have created a model which includes setting up a charity and buying our first care home site. The model will then roll out to additional sites, with the aim of opening five new homes in five years. The homes themselves will also be equipped with the very best care, from mental health specialists to additional education that focuses on teaching financial literacy skills."

Pinnacle’s connections with investors will bring the model to life: "The venture will be a viable business, but I want to create a real legacy to be proud of and do our small part to change the world. The gap between social classes in this country is still vast, with opportunities staying within reach of the wealthy and privileged. I want to level the playing field for children in care: One of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the UK."