Waterfront Entrepreneur | John Howard
There is a certain aura about property professional John Howard. You can’t help but be impressed by how engaging and personable he is. As a property business leader, John’s proficiency stems from the sale and purchase of over 3,000 houses, apartments and developments within the UK, spanning nearly 4-decades. With his obvious entrepreneurial flair, dedication and balanced views on business, John explains how his interesting career started when he was still a teenager….
“My roots are in Suffolk. I was born and grew up in Felixstowe where my father was a successful greengrocer, before fulfilling his ambition of buying an estate agency, which I eventually bought at the age of 19 when my father became ill.
“I changed the name and put my stamp on the business trebling its turnover in 3 years.
“But, it wasn’t all plain sailing. I suffered with a very bad stammer from a young age and when I left school at 17 to work for my father, the first six months were personally challenging as I didn’t want to make or take a phone call! Nonetheless from the tender age of 10, I had enjoyed holding the tape and measuring the houses with my father before being thrown in at the deep end when I took over the reins of the business at the age of 19. It was a great way to learn the trade, uncover my own strengths and work hard to control my stammer.
“By the age of 18 I had already bought and sold my first property and it was that very deal that mapped out my future by igniting my desire to move eventually into property development.
“My first big development was the acquisition of St Franciscan Tower, Ipswich in 1986. Then over the next couple of decades I worked on quite a few larger apartment schemes throughout the UK and this experience was the catalyst for my business partner and I to buy the Winerack on the prestigious Ipswich Waterfront. For every entrepreneur, you need financially astute partners of which I’ve been fortunate to have over the years.
“The complexities of owning the Winerack have been the biggest challenge of my career so far but every day we get a little bit closer to starting work.”
As if property development wasn’t keeping John busy enough, he has also purchased Auction House UK, the No.1 Property Auction Business with over 40 franchises nationally. He has also gone full circle and invested in numerous Fine & Country estate agency offices throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Not to mention at the age of 25, John became one of the youngest Directors of a football league club when joining the board at Cambridge United FC where he held his directorship for 18-years. Racehorse training, guest speaking and auctioneering also form John’s very interesting CV.
John Howard is currently writing a book about his career and the deals he has done with the Winerack being the final chapter! All proceeds from the sale will go to the British Stammering Association.
Q&A with John Howard
How would you describe yourself at 18?
A stammering unconfident teenager. My ambition and tenacity helped me further my desire to become the best that I possibly could be in my chosen profession in property. With the stammering being a huge part of my childhood I was determined not to let that shape the rest of my life, so with a lot of hard work and an element of being in the right place at the right time, on the day of my 18th birthday I succeeded in purchasing my first property deal. This gave me a taste of how I could sculpt my career in the world of property and from that moment on I knew I was on the right path.
What three tips would you give to your younger self?
1. To take more time over the detail and not just focus on the conclusion. I naturally look for the outcome and end-result so when I was younger, turning a blind eye to the input was the way I chose to work. Looking back, taking the time and effort to delve into the detail a little deeper is how I would advise anyone to get the best results. 2. Always put yourself out there even if meeting new people takes you out of your comfort zone. Never turn down the opportunity to network as you never know who you might meet and where your next handshake could take you. 3. Remember that the professionals will likely be working for you! Always surround yourself with the best people and respect the saying “you get what you pay for”.
Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?
I always like to look forward rather than benchmarking my past and you’re only ever as good as your next deal, so hopefully my proudest project will be the completion of the Winerack. Although it won’t be my biggest project, due to the unique challenges involved in the development and it being in my home town, it will certainly be my proudest to date. Secondly, will be the day my book is published. The theme of the early pages will be about my fight to overcome my stammer and the final chapter of the book is set to be about the conclusion of my journey on the Winerack.
Why is Suffolk a good place to do business?
Ipswich has been for many years an underrated and overlooked location in the UK. With its close proximity to London, Stansted and Cambridge, people are now recognising what a fantastic place it is to live being the County Town of Suffolk. Ipswich continues to change for the better in front of our eyes and I am very much looking forward to being a part of creating a new look waterfront with the Winerack development. Suffolk itself is full of superb entrepreneurs and leaders, great people and businesses, fine foods and the countryside and coastline are never far away.
If you could relive one day, what would it be?
Professionally it will be the day that the Winerack is completed and fully occupied with privately owned apartments and commercial tenants. To see this long-standing structure finally brought to life and given the beating heart, colour and identity that it deserves will be the day that I will most certainly like to relive.
If you were to choose one motto what would it be?
Dogged determination will give you the life you want and your gut instinct will lead you there.