Clive Emson wins Outstanding award
Clive Emson became a face on TV screens for growing his auctioneering firm into the fourth largest in the UK.
Based in Maidstone, this year Clive Emson Auctioneers has already sold £65 million worth of properties, with a success rate of 85%.
Still a fixture on the rostrum, Clive can often be spotted on BBC show Homes Under the Hammer, running property auctions from Kent to Cornwall.
These days his son James runs the business from day-to-day as managing director, while Clive acts as chairman.
“I was very anxious to give him the freedom to do a proper job,” said Clive, who has lived in Monks Horton, near Ashford, with wife Sue, for 35 years.
“So many people get their son in the business but still tell them how to do it. He is 43 and if he doesn’t know by now he is in the wrong job. Clearly he does because we are expanding.
“You need fresh blood in a business otherwise you tend to do things because you have always done them that way.”
Clive Emson Auctioneers is not Clive’s first business venture. He set up his first estate agency, Clive Emson & Co, in 1973 in Hythe, having started his career at Geering & Colyer in Maidstone in 1968.
A move to their Tonbridge office in 1969 would be where he would meet his wife Sue, who was the daughter of his boss at the time.
He would run his estate agency until 1983 when he merged the business with Ward & Partners, who were rapidly expanding around him. They were taken over by Prudential in 1986.
He left to launch Clive Emson in Folkestone in 1989, at the height of a recession, after spotting a gap in the market auctioning hard-to-sell properties for the 95% of estate agents which did not have their own auctioneer.
He opened another office in Strood quickly afterwards and within three years the company consolidated its offices into one base in Maidstone, which remains its headquarters. Today it also has offices in Brighton, Hampshire and Devon.
“The business has grown because we say what we are going to do and we do it,” said Clive, 70, who also has a daughter and four grandchildren. “You admit your mistakes and you don’t make promises you can’t keep.
“If you keep that going, no one will be disappointed. No one says we didn’t sell a house because we didn’t try hard enough. If it doesn’t sell it is probably because it is not going to be sold.”
Handing over the reigns to James gives Clive time to focus on his other passion. He is the founding chairman of Young Lives Foundation, a charity supporting vulnerable children, which was established in Maidstone in 2007. He remains its president and is a mentor to many young people.
“I have the ability to talk to children and get the best out of them,” said Clive. “Not every adult can do that. I talk to children rather than at them.
“I’m completely non-judgemental and completely non-PC. I’m not a social worker, a parent or a teacher. For a lot of the children, I’m the only person in their lives who is not paid to be there.
“These children in care have no meaningful contact with their family. Their schools change and social workers change so these independent visitors are the only stable person in their life.
“When you talk to children they say what they think, which is lovely. They are absolutely honest and if you are in business – and you are honest and straight-forward – you earn respect and will be someone people want to deal with.”