Douglas came to Cardiff 16 years ago to study a PhD in observational cosmology, but had a strong interest in property. He now has a group of businesses that cover property management, sales, lettings, building, maintenance, development and cleaning which employs over 40 people. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association that represents over 50,000 landlords to local and national government.
What are you currently working on right now?
The next growth stage of the business, we’ve held steady for a few years but we’ve recently rebranded parts of the group and a change of personnel is positioning us to really grow again in 2018.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Developing my people. One of our apprentices recently won the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru apprentice of the year award, against some very stiff competition. That was an incredible feeling knowing that he had come from college and is now recognised by his peers as one of the best young people in his industry through what he has learnt with us.
What accomplishment areyou most proud of?
Business wise probably my first development simply because I had no idea what I was doing to start with but made sure I learned every step along the way. It made money, I made other peoplemoney and it’s provided a really nice place for people to live for 16 years.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see the businesses growing, especially the property management side having a presence nationally. I would like to generate a better work/life balance so would like to be spending more time developing the team and the business than maybe doing as much of the day-to-day running.
Who was the most influential person to you?
My grandfather. He wasn’t very well since the war but still achieved so much. I wasn’t sporty, in an environment that really only cared about sport, he gave me confidence that being smart wasn’t a bad thing and pushed me to set the bar really high for the goals I wanted to achieve.
What’s your favourite thing about Cardiff?
The fact that it’s a small city with a big presence. Being the capital attracts so many fantastic events and generates a great nightlife as well as a range of facilities you wouldn’t have if it wasn’t the capital. But it’s still small enough to get around and get to know well.
What are the greatest challenges you face in your job?
Building safety and the people in them. Whenever the news comes on and I see a fire has broken out somewhere I dread if it happened to one of the families we house or businesses we rent to. Keeping the properties safe is our top priority and educating people to use them safely is a worthy challenge.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs starting out in this field?
Know your numbers really, really, well. Don’t trust people at face value, be clear what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Don’t get frozen by indecision, it’s probably better to make a bad decision than no decision at all.