Mark Granger, CEO of Carter Jonas talks expansion, leadership and tennis
PUBLISHED: 17:55 22 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:25 20 February 2013
Chris Titley talks expansion, leadership and tennis with the Yorkshire boss of one of Britain's leading property companiesmeet
Looking back it almost seems pre-destined that Mark Granger would play a leading role in property group Carter Jonas.
Born in York, he followed in his fathers footsteps to become a chartered surveyor. After university he was taken on by Carter Jonas as a trainee, but he didnt stay. I left in 1984 and came back to Yorkshire to join what was then the family firm called Byron and Granger.
Then three years later, in 1987, we merged our family firm with Carter Jonas so I was back where I started.
It turned out to be a good move for Mark, especially when he was asked to run the company.
He was only 38, but didnt hesitate.
Sixteen years on, hes chief executive of a much larger, more diverse Carter Jonas. I saw the role as not only being one of nrunning the business, but also developing it. That meant growing it and looking for merger and acquisition opportunities across the country, he says.
Carter Jonas is now worth 35 million and has even expanded in the teeth of a recession which hit the property sector hard. How?
Weve managed it partly through organic growth of what we already do, by trying to be the best people in the towns and cities in which we operate so we attract more business.
But its also by doing a few other things as well, like our renewable energy business.
The other thing weve grown has been our planning and development business. We have a planning team in Harrogate which serves our Yorkshire offices, and they have had to expand their business to meet the demands that have come from changes in planning policy.
In Leeds weve been expanding our commercial team. With offices in York, one in Harrogate and one in Leeds, we have a good grouping of offices which definitely helps us develop a multi-disciplinary business.
Mark lives in Nidderdale, just outside Harrogate, and spends one day a week in the towns office. For the rest of his time he is based in London and around Carter Jonass southern offices.
Money, he says, is pouring into the prime London property locations via investors from the Middle East, China, India and strife-hit southern Europe, all looking for a safe haven for their money.
Up here, its a different story. The central Leeds residential market, which is dominated by flats and apartments, was pretty badly shot when the recession came because of the vast number that were built.
If you look at the residential market in the villages, and in Yorkshire generally, it continues to be difficult. The buyers are wary at the moment of committing themselves. But equally there are opportunities, he says.
Mark doesnt think we should envy the London boom. There are a lot of fantastic things going on in Yorkshire. Weve got a ot of businesses that are world class places like Bettys & Taylors for example.
I dont think people should look to London and feel that Yorkshire should be disadvantaged. I think we should turn it to our advantage.
But more could be done to help Yorkshire achieve that, Mark argues. Weve got to make sure our communications are good. The rail communications are good from London to Leeds and York, but we have poor rail links from York to Harrogate and from Leeds to Harrogate. Its potentially costing Harrogate conference trade business.
A different form of communication is key to his leadership style. Ive just finished doing whats called the chief executives roadshow, when I go round the country to our offices presenting to them about whats gone on in the business in the last 12 months and what were looking forward to.
Communication and engaging with our people around the business are really important,he says.
Mark is not one to stand still. Asked about his ambitions for Carter Jonas, he says he wants to grow it geographically and expand into new markets.
We dont do a great deal of racing work at the moment. Its quite a specialist sector but its an area of business wed be quite interested in developing across the country, he adds.
When hes not at work Mark is often on the tennis court. How does he rate himself as a player? Competitive, he says. Bjorn Borg was my great tennis hero. I wish I could play like him. Character-wise Im probably somewhere between Ilie Nastase and Borg.
Mark also loves walking in the Dales: At home I look out on to rolling green fields and dry stone walls. Fifteen minutes later Im in the centre of Harrogate. Im very lucky.