Ex-teacher cleans up in brushes business

Karen Thornton

After quitting the classroom Bob Webb earns around pound;400,000 and drives a Porsche. Karen Thornton reports.

EX-TECHNOLOGY teacher Bob Webb expects to make between pound;350,000 and pound;400,000 this year, and drives a Porsche and a BMW.

Needless to say, he's no longer working in schools. He quit his job at De La Salle comprehensive in Basildon, Essex, nearly five years ago to work full-time with his wife Liz for home shopping catalogue company, Kleeneze Europe Ltd.

At the time he was already making around pound;70,000 a year, having worked part-time for the company four years before leaving teaching.

The Porsche arrived earlier this year - a gift from Kleeneze, in recognition of the couple's top sales record. They have twice won the company's distributor of the year award.

Other rewards have included holidays to Florida, Arizona, Thailand and Australia, as well as breaks in Europe. "The company takes us away twice a year - five-star, all paid-for," he said.

The father of two teenage children started his new career in the same way as many other Kleeneze distributors, after a friend called and put a catalogue through the door. It cost the couple pound;65 to start up their business, distributing catalogues and collecting and managing orders for everything from coffee tables to mops to diet products.

But most of their income now comes from managing a network of 3,000 other distributors: they earn commission and royalty bonuses on their own orders plus the orders of any other distributors they have recruited.

"It does beat teaching," Mr Webb said. "I recognise the pressures on teachers. I really enjoyed teaching and the kids. But with all the pressures they started loading on I thought I would go pop, and I had to get away from it.

"People say to me, I couldn't do that because it's selling. I tried double glazing for a year and I couldn't take money off people - it didn't feel right. But there is no selling here, and I have a class that listens."

The 49-year-old added: "What tends to happen with teachers is they get a bit institutionalised. They've been in schools since they were five, they're used to it and often they don't see another way. But there are quite a few teachers in the business, although not necessarily in my network.

"This has given us all the finer things in life. It gives me the opportunity to offer the same kind of lifestyle to other people."

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Karen Thornton

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