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James Zockoll

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James (Jim) Francis Zockoll (born 1930) is an American entrepreneur, UK citizen, Dyno-Rod founder and a pioneer of franchising in the UK.

Early life[edit]

Jim Zockoll grew up in North Braddock, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where he attended Scott High School. He then served in the US Air Force as a crew chief in the Korean war. Zockoll returned to the U.S. and studied mechanics (a skill he had learnt during his time in the US Armed Forces) at the Sierra Acadamy of Aeronautics.


In 1955 Zockoll was hired by Pan American World Airways where he was employed as a flight engineer based out of Idlewild airport, New York, (now JFK airport).During a stopover in London in 1962, he was staying at the Kensington Palace Hotel which had planned to close for a period of time due to blocked drains. Zockoll spoke to the manager who was complaining about how long he would have to wait for the drains to be cleared and the price. Zockoll offered to come back and clean the drains on his return to London the following week and at half the price. Zockoll already maintained his own rental properties in Long Island, New York using the newer powered cleaning equipment available in the U.S. Zockoll returned with the equipment and the hotel drains were cleaned. Zockoll realised there was a business opportunity to be had and planned how he could capitalise on the idea.

As a result, in 1963 Zockoll relocated his family to London, firmly establishing himself in the UK. He changed crew base from New York to West Berlin where Pan Am ran the IGS (Internal German Service) using Douglas DC6 aircraft and later the Boeing 727. Each month Zockoll bid two straight weeks in Berlin and two weeks at home. His career with Pan Am spanned 26 years and it was only when his business was well enough established did Jim resign from Pan Am in order to devout 100% of his time to his growing business. Zockoll has continued to set up a further 14 businesses in the UK in which he has introduced a number of new commercial models too. Zockoll is currently active as Chairman of The Zockoll Group and is involved in the day to day overseeing of the Group.


In 1963 Zockoll revolutionised call-out emergency plumbing services to unblock drains by setting up Dyno-Rod. Not only was Dyno-Rod the first service of its kind in the UK it was the first non-fast-food franchise established in the UK and the second franchised business of any kind in the UK. He later took the company international with smaller operations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bahrain, Kuwait, Gibraltar and the USA. After initial success, Dyno-Rod began granting franchise licences in 1965. The success of the company was such that Dyno-Rod has entered the English language as a synonym for clearing drains.

Following the success of the business the company developed other associated brands. Dyno-Secure was launched in 1987, to offer a range of locks and security services, while in 2001, Dyno-Plumbing offered a comprehensive plumbing service.

Zockoll ran the business for 41 years eventually selling to British Gas, a subsidiary of Centrica, in October 2004 for £57m[1] [2] [3]. Today Dyno remains the only national franchised home emergency call out company. [4] [5] [6] [7]


In 1969 followed Pit-Stop. From the very beginning, it was a success story. It offered motorists a fast and efficient while you wait fitting service for silencers and exhaust systems, eventually adding shock absorbers and brakes to the mix. Operations extended overseas to Germany and in 1976 the highly successful business was bought by Tenneco / Walker.

Texon Car Paint Shop[edit]

In 1976 Zockoll continued setting up businesses within the auto sector, this time being Texon car paint shops. The first shop was located in Balham, South London. The service guaranteed a car respray service offering a wide variety of shades and colours, including the new 'metallic' finishes coming to market. The slogan ' Any car - any make - any colour from £39.50' resulted in queues of motorists looking to use this unique and affordable service.

The Old San Francisco Real American Ice Cream Parlour[edit]

1977 saw Zockoll open another business this time in Germany. Based on the American ice cream parlour concept seen in the U.S.A. he opened six parlours across Germany. The parlours offered 34 different flavours (more than anyone else) including exotic sundaes with names such as Cable Car, Dance Hall Girl, Earthquake and Golden Gate.


A mobile engine tuning service was launched in September 1979. Autrac vans carried an onboard computer which presented each customer with a print-out of the car's performance before and after tuning.

Drips Plumbing[edit]

The early 1980’s saw Zockoll return to emergency plumbing services. This time with a franchised plumbing service providing 24/7 365 nationwide cover. DRIPS was set up to combat the ‘cowboy’ image of plumbers of the day. One centralised memorable number was used 01 888 0 888. The franchisees used standardised charging and operated via a centralised call centre. The business proved a success and DRIPS was eventually absorbed into the Dyno brand; Dyno-Plumbing.

ZIF Express Parcel System[edit]

In the mid 1980’s Zockoll started an innovative new freight system, ZIF Express Parcel System. He brought together dozens of small transport companies to create a collection and delivery network supported by third-party hubbing operators in the Midlands. They system was a forerunner of the hub and spoke transport model. Quickly seen as being a potential giant in the industry ZIF network was acquired by Nexday Couriers of Northampton.


1994 saw Phonenames established. The company introduced the UK to dialling a memorable name rather than a number using their keypad. A system that was already popular in the US and Canada for direct response marketing.

0800 Flowers[edit]

In 1998 Zockoll entered the flowers delivery business and in 2003, bought Flowers2Send, an online florist based in Skipton, Yorkshire. Zockoll rebranded to 0800 Flowers and extended the operations to include the Republic of Ireland, France and Spain. The business was sold in 2008.

0800 Handyman[edit]

With an interest still very much in property care in 2003 Zockoll invested in handyman service Redjacks, purchasing the remainder of the business in 2007. He rebranded the business 0800 Handyman and as well as being the first of its kind in the UK it is today one of the leading London based handyman services. Operated both as shops and a mobile service, customers can book professionally qualified tradespeople to help out with decorating, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, building and other general property care jobs. He intends to roll-out a franchised retail outlet offering.

British Franchising Association (BFA)[edit]

Zockoll was a pioneer and champion of the UK franchising industry [8] and has played a pivotal role in its history. In 1977 he became a founder member of the BFA. By the end of the 1970s, eight of the largest franchise brands in the UK – Dyno-Rod, ServiceMaster, Holiday Inn UK, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wimpy (restaurant), Ziebart GB, Prontaprint and Budget Rent a Car – realised they had to do something to differentiate their ethical business practices from illegal pyramid and other schemes. So, in 1977, the British Franchise Association (bfa) was formed.

With no set standards in the UK, the industry created its own regulatory body to accredit a company’s suitability for membership based on strict criteria related to operational practices, business procedures, franchise agreement terms – and the support offered to franchisees.

These founding members and the bfa’s early work on business ethics restored credibility to the business model and, with the economic boom of the ’80s and ‘90s, new brands came into UK franchising which are household names today.

Personal Life[edit]

Jim met his wife Ann while on a London layover with Pan Am.[9] They married in 1960 and set-up home in Long Island, New York. The family home has been in SW London since 1963. Jim is now a UK citizen. They have two sons; Steven born in 1961, also a pilot with Pan Am until Pan Am’s demise in 1991 and now MD at the Zockoll Group. Their second son Jim was born in 1963 and lives in Cleveland, U.S.A working as a pilot for United Airlines.

In 2011, Zockoll donated £143,000[10] to help save the life of an East London toddler who was suffering from a rare form of cancer, called neuroblastoma.


  1. Telegraph Dyno Sale https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/4494516/Dyno-Rod-founder-will-drain-50m-from-float.html
  2. Indepenent Dyno Sale https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/after-40-years-down-the-drains-dyno-rod-aims-for-acircpound65m-float-734055.html
  3. BBC News Dyno Sale http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3706096.stm
  4. Our History, How we Started https://www.dyno.com/about/our-history
  5. Independent Dyno Sells for £57m https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/zockoll-sells-dyno-rod-to-centrica-for-57m-cash-39461.html
  6. Dyno-Rod in Centrica's sights? https://www.standard.co.uk/news/dyno-rod-in-centricas-sights-6986608.html
  7. Saturday Paper Round: bid news and gossip https://citywire.co.uk/new-model-adviser/news/saturday-paper-round-bid-news-and-gossip/a259681
  8. About Franchising & the bfa https://www.thebfa.org/about-franchising-the-bfa/
  9. "The life of Jim Zockoll | TMAX Films". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  10. Seriously ill Dagenham toddler will get life saving treatment abroad thanks generous donors http://www.barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/health/seriously-ill-dagenham-toddler-will-get-life-saving-treatment-abroad-thanks-generous-donors-1-1143630

External links[edit]

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