Every morning you get up you have to have a target. That’s what I have. I make money every day and if I don’t I make double the next (he shrugs), that’s the kind of guy I am. I work hard
George Houghton or GH as he is known left school at the age of 16 with no formal qualifications other than a great love of maths. At the age of 11 GH had several jobs ranging from washing cars, delivering groceries and working on the early morning milk round before going to school.
From the age of 15 it was GH ambition to own a brand new car. Before he could drive he bought a 1936 Riley, cleaned and polished it and did some minor repairs and sold it for a profit of £6. The average wage in those days was near £2 a week. He continued buying cars at auction and eventually at the age of 17 has made enough profit to buy his brand new Austin A35 for the princely sum of £213.
At age 17 he started work in a Ford motor dealership and by the age of 21 owned his own Ford dealership. By the age of 30 GH owned 5 new car dealerships, Ford, Rootes (Hillman, Sunbeam and Humber), Lotus, British Leyland and Seddon Trucks as well as 20 petrol stations.
He made his first million pounds at the age of 30.
Always looking at new markets GH "bought" into the leisure industry in 1975 aged just 35. First as a joint venture with Sir Freddie Laker and then on his own, he operated leased planes from a number of northern UK airports. As well as just selling seats on planes he offered the full holiday package of accommodation and car hire abroad.
During the 1990's GH saw the health sector and specifically the care home market as being a massive opportunity because of the ever ageing population. GH, with his wife Jennifer, setup Executive Care Group. This company now owns and operates some 30 care homes across the UK caring for around 1,400 guests at any one time. In total he has created nearly 2,000 jobs in the process.
Because of the need for exceptional training in this business GH set up his own training school which is now very successful in its own right and employs 65 staff.
For every ten great ventures there's one disaster and the one disaster for GH was in the wonderful world of football. GH bought Darlington FC. Darlo as it is known to its fans had recently moved into a brand new home, a 28,000 all seater stadium with car parking and extra land on the outskirts of Darlington. GH lost a small fortune on this and in the end was pleased to be out. He has the following message for anyone planning on buying a football club. "Don't"
George Houghton now in his 70's owns property across the globe from a Corporate 35,000 sq feet Office centre in Melbourne in Florida, a coal mine on North America, a housing development in Gibraltar, as well as owning property in Spain, China, Poland and Ireland. He is now undertaking a new venture of building a 500 bed vacation club Hotel with retail in Orlando close to SeaWorld in Florida USA at a cost of $50m. He has been approached by the Chinese government to "oversee" the first new build care home in China. The start of a programme which will see one hundred thousand new care home beds built there at a cost of circa £50,000 per bed. The total development cost will be near £5bn.
GH says "to be an entrepreneur you must have ambition, energy, focus and patience". GH believes the education system lets a lot of young people down. Young people who have ideas to enter the world of business have no idea how to organise or balance a bank account let alone read P&L's.
George has a passion to help young people own their own business. He offers them not only his vast experience but investment in money, time and contacts.
George is an active Angel with Trinity College Dublin, giving both of his time and experience to the young entrepreneurs that seek his advice.
GH is very proud to be associated with Trinity College and was overjoyed when in a recent report by the UBI Index listing the 'Global ranking of Top University Business Incubators' Trinity College Dublin was ranked 28th in a global listing of 800 universities worldwide.