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Just another boy! or is he?

1950 1955 1965 1966 1968 1970 1971 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1980 1982 1983 1984 1986 1987 1989 1993 1996 1997 2000 2002 2007 2009 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1950

My Dad and Mum

mum and dad

This picture was taken around 1937 before mum and dad ever thought of having children or could ever have imagined that in a few years dad would be in the Burmese killing fields of the 2nd World War, and when dad came home normal life carried on, well that’s what everyone would have liked but that only happens in fairy tales. Then on 18 June 1950, their 3rd child was born, it was me and definitely the last.

The Ambidextrous builder

The Ambidextrous builder

I suppose up to the age of five I would have been classed as just another, shall we say “normal” child, but that all changed in 1955, but having said that there were signs like I didn’t speak until I was 3 and I was very disruptive with my brother and sister. I think nowadays there would be a doctor wanting to prescribe some pills for this behaviour.


1955

Taking after my Father

Taking after my Father

Like everyone else, I was sent to school at the age of five, but now I prefer saying I was Incarcerated every day, I knew from that first day I was in the wrong place, it didn’t feel right, I felt there was something missing because I couldn’t see what everyone else around me saw, so in my mother’s words, I became a little sod, I think it was because nobody questioned why.

Unbeknown to me I was dyslexic and I suppose nobody knew in those days that kids weren’t just stupid or naughty, they just needed a different curriculum to learn with, on top of that I also had something else that seems to run in line with dyslexic and that is ADHD. So, my mind was always questioning and reprimanding myself for not being the same as everyone around me.

Having those things, bullying came along as part of being different, and so with hating school and the people there, I pursued an interest in working and the reward from the age of 7 years old.

So for the 10 years of being made to attend school, I felt like I was in two worlds, the world of school which I hated because I was punished and called stupid, although I didn’t know why and the second world that I loved, because of being free and the freedom from being beaten, working made me happy, I wanted to learn more when I was happy and of course I was earning money, and so by the time that I was 12 years old I was working in the Peterborough Cattle Market every Saturday, I felt this is where I belonged, I was in my element.

1965

Feeling Lost

Feeling Lost

This is a picture of me and my mum in the Summer of 1965, having left school and on holiday with my parents feeling somewhat lost in the seaside town of Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire where they had a caravan that my dad had built himself.

Although feeling lost I was also so relieved to have left school, it felt like I was free at last, throughout my school years I had adhered to the teacher’s perception of me and complied to their brainwashing techniques of convincing me that I was stupid, so in other words, I left with nothing, zero grades, this was a testament to their teaching abilities, leaving without being able to write my own name.

So, with none of the qualifications related to the school curriculum, I had left a few weeks before the term was up because I knew they couldn’t do anything about it, and besides, I already had a job working on a chicken farm, but it was going to take me a long time to understand that having a job wasn’t going to be freedom for me.

1966

My World Changed

My World Changed

1966 was the year my life changed, some people would say well you only met a girl, what could possibly change your life, well this girl didn’t think I was stupid, doesn’t sound much but to me, it was the biggest transformation with my confidence that I had ever had.

At the time I was still running away from jobs, still trying to find where I could fit in, and also be in my element in life, I had already left the chicken farm after an altercation with the owner, my dad found me a job as an apprentice plumber which fortunately for me didn’t work out again, you will see the reasons in my book, and now I was once again back in my element as I had now got a job on a pig farm, this was when I met Marilyn, a chance meeting through the farmer’s daughter, Marilyn had just turned 15 in April and I was 16 in June, we met 7 days after my birthday on Saturday 25th and we became inseparable after only 6 weeks of knowing each other and we decided that we were going to spend our lives together, so we set our goals, there were only 3, to get married, have a family and buy a house.

1968

We offered all the money that we had

first house

Our first goal was achieved in 1968 when we bought our first house which unfortunately was derelict, well what would you expect for £650, yes pounds? That’s right, that’s what it cost, I had also moved jobs several times by then, on from the pig farm to become a car mechanic, then working in a store and then onto a bakery making cakes, on to the butchers’ department then onto 13-hour night-time shifts in charge of the bread slicing machine and all the orders going out to every Co-op in Cambridgeshire.

Leaving the Co-op I went to a lorry engine manufacturing plant, again working at night, then moving on after getting into trouble trying to reorganise the system for 8,000 workers, then again my dad got me a job erecting electricity poles, the first 3 weeks were in a classroom environment learning the construction and health and safety, by now that’s if you have read the content above you will know that I was mentally shitting myself for the whole 3 weeks.

1970

Another Goal

we got married

Our second goal was achieved in 1970 when we got married on 4th July, now, just one more goal to go.

By that time as ever my world was changing, continually afraid of showing just what I could do because once I was promoted I would get found out that I couldn’t read or write, running was the only answer.

Now I had got a job working on a land reclamation project well it was my dad that got me that job as one of his friends was the director, I was also working every day with one of our next-door neighbours who had his own business painting and decorating, the reason that I could do this was that I worked on shift work on the land reclamation project.

1971

Marilyn and Elaine

Marilyn and Elaine

This was the third goal that was achieved with our 1st daughter Elaine being born on 26th April 1971.

We thought that we had completed our goals and that would be that, what a good job that I was wrong.

The picture was taken in the best bit of our property when Elaine was just 4 days old, we felt so proud to have become parents.

1973

Marilyn and Elaine

Marilyn and Elaine

By 1973 having moved house four times we ended up living in a 10-foot caravan, I was working 12 hours a day for the M.O.D. on a hidden underground aircraft fuel base waiting for the next war to start, this was not for me, I hated every single minute of being there.

I have since learned that whatever you put into your brain it will come true, as I said I hated the job, I didn’t want to be there so subsequently I got fired and I even wondered why, thinking it’s unfair, why me, I need the money.

Up to then if I had left a job in the morning I found another by the afternoon, but unfortunately or should I say fortunately although I didn’t think so at the time, there was a recession on with a million out of work, so for me talking myself into getting another proved impossible.

Employers now had the pick of workers and those who could fill in an application form got the jobs, whereas my applications along with others like me who only had the gift of the gab, these went straight in the bin.

People have asked me why the caravan was tipped up, well I had a problem with the wastewater pipe and having ADHD my mind diverted on to take the photo of Marilyn and Elaine not taking any notice of the caravan, I wouldn’t be doing that now.

1974

Keep Smiling

Keep Smiling

Deep into a recession I had no choice but to beg for money, standing in that line in the welfare office I prayed to my god to get me another job, but they clearly thought it was time for me to stand on my own feet, so in desperation, I became a self-employed window cleaner, desperate for money I also got a job in the evenings erecting for sale boards for a company called Buy And Sell Direct, well that taught me so much, as after getting unpaid for 3 months they disappeared into thin air. Marilyn was not only looking after Elaine she was hairdressing for friends and family too, as well as selling turf over the phone 24/7, and guess what all the cheques bounced.

Life can sometimes be shit and this was one of those times but we still kept smiling and I don’t know why.

1975

Be Serious

Be Serious

Somehow we had managed to stay in business for six months so now we thought it was time that the business should have a name, although all we had been doing was window cleaning and a bit of property maintenance, odd jobs In other words, that still didn’t stop us from being really serious about being in, and building a great business that was going to grow into something significant. At the same time as you can see by the picture, I hadn’t lost my sense of humour as I was about to throw a bucket of water over Marilyn when she was trying to take a photo.

Albert

I started doing more maintenance than window cleaning, so Wrightway Decorating and Property Maintenance was born, because by then customers were asking us to do painting and decorating, luckily I had learned this trade over 2 years while working with a neighbour Albert, he had his own business and at that time I was working on the land reclamation doing shift work, so doing two jobs had become normal to me which took up to 16 hours a day.
1976

We felt like real builders now

secondhand VW pick up

We saw and measured the progress of the business in some unusual ways. From the end of 1974 when I was just using my car for the window cleaning business we then progressed to using my dad’s trailer as we had started to take on other jobs through 1975.

By the beginning of 1976, we had bought a secondhand VW pick up, now we really did think that we were real builders.

A big stepping stone for us mentally on our progression in building this new lifestyle that we embraced every day with enthusiasm and passion, we felt excited and free from the restrictive chains put on us.

1977

Rainbow Warehouse

Rainbow Warehouse

Our first nursery shop was called Rainbow Warehouse, it was situated at 1229 Bourges Boulevard, New England, Peterborough. We never intended to open a shop or even have another business, let alone a business that would be in a completely different market to property. We just bought the property to have an office for our maintenance business, Marilyn realised after buying the property that it was too big for a one-person office, so we thought that as there were other shops around there we could sell something, and at the time we had £300, this is now £1,269 in 2020, today’s money, and we thought of second-hand prams, Why? you ask, cheap and big, we could fill the place for £300….simple! Unbeknown to us when starting this shop selling second-hand prams, we would eventually become the largest independent nursery retailer in the UK with 125 full-time staff in one shop.
1978

Marilyn and Neville = Marville

Marilyn and Neville = Marville

We renamed Wrightway Decorating to Marville Properties, as we had now started working on our own properties and the name had to reflect the business that we had decided to go into for the future. Although we had our own business, I still didn’t feel completely free, so the aim was to only work on our own properties. This is where it’s so important to have goals in every aspect of your life. One of my goals that I had set at the age of 13 was that one day I would have a brand-new Land-Rover, the one in the picture was achieved in 1990 as the Golden Goose, but the business always came first.
1980

We opened up in a building site

new shop in a new township

3 years on from opening Rainbow Warehouse the business was starting to thrive to the extent that customers had to queue outside as the shop would always be full of customers, and if we were to stay in this business we had to find bigger premises. But instead of shutting one shop and opening another bigger one, we decided to sell the business as a going concern. We found a new shop in a new township on the outskirts of Peterborough called Orton Centre. The second nursery shop was named Kiddicare this was the nearest name to the business that we most admired in the trade which was Mothercare.
1982

How was it possible

Parkhouse

The business was taking off at a rapid pace, and we were now buying, renovating and selling both residential and commercial.

We were still working for private people, doing their maintenance, but not the window cleaning now, and we were running the shop to, and then what was probably the largest and the dearest house came up for sale in Stamford and we just had to have it, I’ll explain more in my book.

We were by now on what seemed to be an uncontrollable roller-coaster ride of a lifetime, as in eight years we had gone from living in a 10-foot caravan to owning probably the best house in the area at that time.

When some people saw the rewards we were getting, they sadly and indirectly questioned how we got them with some even saying behind our backs, “of course it was impossible to get these things lawfully” only we know the true story of how we did it and I will tell you in my book.

10th November baby Jo was born

11th Nov. I took Marilyn a bowl of Angel Delight as she had asked for some food, and at that time that’s the only thing I could cook. Marilyn looked at it and said, “I asked for food”. I also took a briefcase with 30 invoices in it as they needed to be paid and all by cheque in those days. I licked the stamps for her and the bowl after I had eaten the Angel Delight, well I wasn’t going to waste it.
1983

An unexpected new store

new store

As normal expect the unexpected, we now wanted a warehouse as we were so busy in the Orton Centre shop and this building that was being advertised for sale as 5,000 sq ft suitable for a Garden Centre in a village close-by.

As soon as we saw it was going to be a shop, and there was a school on the opposite side of the road, we realised this was going to be our next shop and not the warehouse after all.

We had no intention of expanding whatsoever, however when a window of opportunity comes along you have a choice of whether to ignore it or to go for it and then the normal thing for us at that time was to always go for it.

1984

The start of a chain of shops

chain of shops

By now Marville Properties had stopped working for other people, and we were constructing Commercial and Residential properties for ourselves, either to sell or to let, we had just built six shops and two houses and decided to sell the two houses and rent out the shops.

Since starting the business in 1974 this was the first time that we could afford to retain any commercial property, now in 2020 we still have them, they cost us 72k now they are worth 450k and we have had 600k rent over the years.

1986

Exciting Times

Exciting Times

We had always had our goals, and one of them was to pay a million pounds in tax, this goal came out of standing in that dole office begging for £2 more a week to feed my family, then after my request was refused I promised myself I would never go cap in hand begging to anyone ever again.

I would become rich, so rich that I would pay a million-pounds tax every year and then I would know by doing that I would be free from poverty, but before you can pay that sort of tax you have to be earning an enormous amount, well in 1986 we achieved the first step of that goal by becoming millionaires, well on paper anyway and what a great mental boost that was.

1987

Our daughters Elaine and Joanne and my Mum and Dad

Family

When I said earlier that in 1966 we made our first three goals which were to get married, have a family and buy our own house, all of them seemed achievable at the time in my mind, but there was a fourth goal, one that we thought would be impossible to get, this was because we had no knowledge of what we would need to do in order to achieve this goal, the goal was to work together.

Although this was achieved in 1974 just 8 years after setting that goal, it all changed as soon as we got the 2nd shop in 1983, then the 3rd shop in 1984.

We had gone backwards, we were on a path of expansion, copying other companies, we were getting wrapped up in ”pure business” and had forgotten about what was important to us, since then I have found it quite easy to know if I am doing the right thing or not, I ask myself, am I in my element doing what I am doing.

Realising that we were not in our element we decided to sell the two smaller shops and then we would get back on track working together, helping each other to get the best results possible which proved to be the right thing to do as sometimes you have to go backwards to enable you to go forward in leaps and bounds.

1989

The new look store

By 1989 we had tried in vain to rebuild the store in the village, but with no luck from the planners and in desperation and of course within the law, we transformed it.

All of the customers loved it except the planners and the people who lived in the village, but I think they were sad to see it go when we did finally demolish it and put another bland building in its place.

1993

The Reverse Psychology of Dyslexia and ADHD

Dyslexia

dyslexic had always been my enemy from the first day that I went to school, although that word never existed in the 50’s people found other words such as stupid, so after I had been told for 10 years in and out of school that I was stupid I just accepted it, in fact I had been brainwashed, the foundation had been laid for the rest of my life.

So, the wall would be built on this strong foundation, and I helped other people build it by believing what they said, things like, you won’t amount to anything in life, this was to a child with a great imagination, you’re mad, that won’t work, you can’t do that and so on, but that had stopped when I met Marilyn, and even then it took another 8 years before I believed I could have everything and do anything that I wanted.

By 1997 when I was 47 years old and as I looked back on my 23 years in business and realized that dyslexic had really and truly been my friend as it was always pushing me away from the normal, pushing me to the edge, and that along with ADHD was a perfect recipe for disruption and success.

With a hyper brain and a body to go with it, along with consistency, focus and determination, the compounding effect would always be working, but I couldn’t persuade people further than 4 hours away to get in their cars to come to a baby shop in a village that they had never heard of, and I wanted to serve the whole country, that’s when we thought of the Internet which was in its infancy.

1996

Coasting

I suppose after working for so many years like a mad man getting the toys along the way that all successful people seem to get, and along with that I think I also got a touch of complacency.

I suppose it was because I didn’t think there was any further for us to go with the business or maybe because we both needed a rest, although the rest came in a form of travelling all over the world.

I found that there are only so many toys or holidays you can have before a downward spiral starts really without knowing it, don’t get me wrong we were still working our butts off but it was easier because we had been used to push push push to get to the next level doing a hundred things at a thousand miles an hour like driving into fog and taking a chance, that adrenaline had gone and been replaced by buying just another 100k new car to get me out of bed in the mornings.

This way of going on had to come to an end and so it did just by not being able to stand still and also realising that the way I was living was unfulfilling for me as a person that had come from nothing.

1997

ADHD

The gift of having ADHD has played a significant roll in my life as it has naturally pushed me forward on a never-ending path of curiosity of learning, and at the same time of just doing so many different things all at the same time without procrastinating too much about what we were doing.
2000

Diversify

Industrial Warehousing Industrial Warehousing

Marville Properties diversified into large Industrial Warehousing and the Retail Sector, buying and building in excess of 600,000 sq. ft. of buildings.
2002

What an incredible new store

incredible new store

By 2002 we had built what would have been the impossible just a few years earlier, we were now in the top 3 of Independent Nursery Retailers in the UK, we employed 60 full time staff in one shop. This just shows you the power of two, the two of us at school being told by teachers that we looked up to, that we wouldn’t amount to anything in life, but that didn’t stop our dreams that we turned into goals, that gave us the determination to conquer the fear and become responsible for our actions in life, it’s a pity they don’t teach that in teacher training college, then we wouldn’t have left school timid frightened and afraid of everybody in authority.
2007

Banks and Customers can be a volatile combination

kiddicare rbs

Around 2005 we met with RBS bank they assessed our two businesses and offered to lend us £36 million with at .8% interest that’s right .8%, we felt pretty uncomfortable with that because at the time there wasn’t anything to buy as prices had gone through the roof, so we initially took something like 6.5 million pounds to start building another new store.

We were used to leveraging our assets and using banks for an overdraft to expand our businesses, I do think you have to be very careful in borrowing money, I’ve heard people say that banks will lend you an umbrella when the sun is out and as soon as it starts raining they want it back, that’s not a bad estimation of what was going on in 2008/9.
But overall they’re there for a purpose and you must use them when a window of opportunity appears.

2009

Too good to miss

PE2

135,000 sqft had been built in 2006/7 with an asking price of around 11 million but with no buyers or anyone wanting to rent it at £8 psf I offered 4.5 million knowing I could borrow the money at .8% and find a tenant at £2.95 psf. The deal was done and since then we have had the money back in rent.
2012

CDW headquarters for 350 staff

CWD

After leaving Kiddicare we expanded our Marville Properties building operation, the first building was built for a company called Kelway who needed a new office for I think 350 staff, we built it on three floors that could house up to six different companies if there was ever any need to split it but we let it as one, and in 2020 we have extended the car park by another 60 spaces.
2013

Oundle Marina

Oundle Marina

We bought the 180 berth marina with the intention of gaining planning for 280 berths 20 live on two-storey boats a new Pub and Restaurant, some retail space and around 60 houses, which I believe we have got now after some years. And in the meantime, we filled the 130 thousand sq ft of factory space with commercial tenants.

Architects rendering of the proposed development.

Marina-plan

Pub-Restaruant-ViewHoliday-Accommodation

2014

First office to residential

After permitted development rights came in in 2013 we took advantage of this opportunity by buying this office block which mirrored another on the street at the back, basically a horseshoe with parking in the middle.

Finding new opportunities and being first to take advantage was something that we were used to as with little competition it means lower prices, but as soon as others cotton on to what you are doing the price always goes one way and that’s up.

So we did a few developments while the going was good then moved on to other stuff others were not doing.

offices

2015

Think outside of the box

Cobblestone yard

We didn’t seem to do anything the conventional way and buying this building was no exception.

My son-in-law Andrew Beeson spotted a derelict three-storey barn in the centre of Stamford Lincolnshire that looks over the meadows and the river Welland, although it was not for sale Andrew found out who it belonged to and approached them.

The owners were going to convert it into three apartments, so Andrew offered what would essentially be the price of the finished apartments plus I think around £100,000 extra.

Some things are worth more to some people than they are to others, Jo our youngest daughter is an Iron man competitor, she wanted an office in a place where she could run there through the fields from her home, can you put a price on that, no. So bearing this in mind the owners got more than they were expecting for doing nothing, a no brainer for them and us.

What we got after the renovations was an award-winning office on two floors, eight parking spaces, which are gold dust in the centre of the town, a retail shop on the ground floor which was a bonus, plus another bonus as in the overgrown yard we converted the stable block a two-bedroom house and another unseen building into a one bedroomed Studio both with gardens so we’ve ended up with a nice income and have doubled the value of the property.

Plus a fantastic environment to work in.

2017

How long will a building last.

building

This was a warehouse that we built for Kiddicare in 2000, 18 years later it was demolished and a new Lidl put in its place.

The same size building but in a slightly different place on the site.

If it was a local business, the existing building would have been used but there you go. We can’t complain as we pocketed 2.4 million pounds and took our concrete to be used on another site.

Westlake Apartments Hampton.

building

From the day we finished building these apartments they’ve been fully let, there are one and two bedrooms with parking spaces surrounding this building are many similar buildings restaurants shops and of course as the name suggests there are many lakes in this vicinity.

2018

Heidi Estates

Heidi Estates

Woodland Park was a typical 14 plot site but we went up to just over 100 plot sites that we started building from 2011 onwards, in total we built around 600 properties which went from a few one-bedroom apartments to six-bedroom detached houses. Our aim was to create the biggest private building business in the midlands, but an opportunity presented itself and we sold it and by now you’re not surprised are you.

Horsch

Horsch

A farm machinery training facility that we built bespoke for Horsch, the building was designed and built to their specification we retain the building and they are a tenant of ours.

DFS

DFS

A dark warehouse was designed and built for DFS who is now a tenant of ours.
2019

Starbucks

We have built and are still building bespoke buildings for tenants but this is the first time that we took a corporate design to build which we did because it was good business for all involved.



HANDELSBANKEN

Handelsbanken is a decentralised bank which is locally established with a nationwide branch network in six home markets of Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands.



Sopp+Sopp is a business founded on industry knowledge and experience. Formed in 2003 as a specialist Commercial Vehicle Accident and Repair Management company, Sopp+Sopp provides leading solutions for corporate fleets, insurers, brokers, vehicle/body manufacturers and third party claim administrators.



Build

CDD Automation Solutions provides integrated control systems, tailored to customer standards, and across major network platforms.


2020

Getting sites ready for new building projects

12 acres brown field site formerly a mushroom production plant

Land for new factories next to a 750,000 ft² Aldi new distribution centre


In the pipeline to renovate A former farmyard into 3-4-and 5 bedroom homes, starting Autumn 2020

Hampton Peterborough

Planned 16,000 ft.² new office was about to be started in June 2020, it’s on hold now until we get a tenant ha ha ha, or we come up with some other idea for this location in the middle of an area for offices and restaurants.

My Book

Absolutely fantastic!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Absolutely fantastic! A truly inspirational read. Written with such passion demonstrating all the life long hard work, sheer determination, love and care plus having the essential ability to think outside the box.

 

Must read book… ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A must-read book if you are in business, retail, dealing with the public or just want to understand what it takes…
Inside is so much knowledge from the man who sold his business at the height of the recession for £70mil, no mean feat.
The fact that all the proceeds go to charity is just an added bonus.

What a lovely, kind man with a great philosophy. So many high street stores could learn so much from this book.

Available to download on

Audible  |  Amazon  |  iTunesStart reading for free

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