If you thought that running a single business had enough of its own time-consuming challenges, then Tim Downing, 47, Senior Partner at Pygott & Crone may have bitten off more than he can chew — but he doesn’t think so. Buying out the estate agents in his 20s, creating property investment company Downing Development with his brother William, as well as looking to create a UK chain of cycle shops is only the beginning for this business-driven man.
Growing up, Tim had unique opportunities to study and gain real world experience. When he wasn’t at boarding school, he had a tutor in India and travelled the globe with his father who set up leather factories and would bring the leather back to the UK and Europe to be made into shoes, handbags and more.
“Travel is probably the best education I’ve had,” said Tim. “I hadn’t done particularly well in school, I have three O-levels, I think. I haven’t got any A-Levels or degrees or anything like that, but travel has been the best education for me because it really opens up your horizons and opens up what’s going on in the world.
This feature interview was first published in issue 43 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
“I talk to customers sometimes who haven’t even been out of Lincolnshire, let alone the country and yet I have been to Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, all over the place.”
Despite not being the academic type of person, Tim had inspiration from his parents after seeing how they did business and had a real passion for property. “I think that my mother, who sadly passed away, was a great inspiration to me over the years.
“I have always wanted to be self-employed. My mother and step-father were self-employed; they set up Hemswell Antique Centres. It’s always been in my blood.
“The beauty of property is that you are not selling the same thing every day. You are meeting new characters all the time. As a business we’re also involved with agriculture, financial services, auctioneering, commercial property — it’s very different and I enjoy the variation of it.”
Getting on the property ladder
Tim started on the path to property at the age of 17 when he went to work for Hambros Bank, which used to own the Countrywide brand of estate agents in North London. He progressed to manager very quickly, but he still wanted more. He moved to North Lincolnshire to work for Bell Watsons, but it wasn’t soon before he found Pygott & Crone.
“I was out in Lincoln one evening in 1991, getting some money out of the cash point and I saw Pygott and Crone’s new office. I thought it looked really sharp. So I arranged an interview with Bill Crone, got the job the following day and then about two years later, myself, Kevin Scrupts, Iain Pygott and Steve Wilson bought Bill out and most of John Pygott and the rest is history.
“We took the firm over within two years. The four of us became majority shareholders of the business 23 years ago.”
The full cover interview with Tim Downing is available to read in full here. For the latest dispatch of business news from across Lincolnshire delivered in your inbox every Friday, subscribe to the Lincolnshire Business magazine.