01 May Wild Geese: ‘I think the Irish are grafters, that stands to us’
Wild Geese: ‘I think the Irish are grafters, that stands to us’
Dubliner David Johnson runs a property brokerage firm, INHOUS, in London
“Then I moved to London and on my first day (I was 33 and had been in the property business since 2001), I was at the induction with a 19-year-old being offered a basic salary of £14,000.”
Johnson has since moved on from his baptism of fire in the London property market and is the founder and managing director of Inhous – a property brokerage firm based in Fulham.
The Booterstown native doesn’t regret the sink-or-swim mentality he encountered on arrival in London, despite his experience in the sector and his academic background in business management and IT at the time.
“It was very challenging but, by being older, I think I really grasped it. I started showing properties all over London. People probably thought I was a bit bonkers but it allowed me to really educate myself on the London property market and Inhous wouldn’t be what it is now had I not gone that route,” he says.
The biggest problem, he says, is getting the right individuals for the job as people are coming from a different viewpoint.
“In my Hooke and MacDonald days, it was very team-orientated; in my first job in London it was very individual – you are given a very basic salary and it was up to you to earn your living based on commission. It is very cut-throat, very much everyone out-for-themselves and the support factor is not as prominent as it is back home.
“Initially that was a bit of a shock for me but then I decided to really grasp that challenge and to enjoy it.”
Johnson emigrated to London with his then girlfriend (now wife) Gillian Shubotham in 2010 when the bottom fell out of the property market in Dublin.
The couple got jobs working in the same company in different departments and different offices – Shubotham as a sales negotiator and later a valuer (her background is in private banking and personal wealth management though she has also spent time in NYU studying property and facilities management) and Johnson as sales agent in areas such as Belgravia, Notting Hill and Knightsbridge.
The couple established INHOUS in 2012, the same year they got married, and they now have two little boys under two years of age and live in Parson’s Green in Fulham where the office is just a 10-minute walk across the park.
The couple have discussed moving home at some stage in the future, not least because of the cost of schooling in London but also because Johnson would like his children to grow up in Ireland at some point.
“The Irish thing seems to go down well everywhere. People trust us, we say it as it is, we are hard working. It’s something that has stood to us since establishing INHOUS. I think the Irish are grafters and, when we go abroad, that stands to us,” he says.
A Blackrock College alumnus, Johnson is a member of the Irish International Business Network.
“In London, many people expect an introduction fee, but the Irish are happy just to introduce people,” he says. “There are so many Irish people in London and I’ve really started to realise how high up they are in their roles. Many of them really are decision makers in key roles.”
It’s unlikely that many such introductions are done, as per the old boys’ club, on the golf course, as Johnson, a keen golfer, says any such outings take three months of planning.
“It’s a case of planning something and keeping it in the diary. People are so busy here. They’re going here and there or going home at weekends. So if you are heading out to Surrey for a game of golf with friends, you need to be about three months ahead in your planning,” he laughs.
He does not see Brexit as having a major negative impact on the London business and says that, on the contrary, the company experienced their busiest period to date in the three weeks after the country’s vote to leave the EU.
INHOUS opened an office in Ballsbridge in January this year and Johnson finds himself making the regular commute between the two locations as the business becomes more established here.
“Door-to-door it’s probably four hours between the London and Dublin office so really I just see London as an extension of Dublin,” he says.