Jon and Chris Pishiri qualified as chartered surveyors at a time when the property market was suffering. It was the early 90s. Interest rates were high; the property sector was sluggish and there were not many jobs available. “The big firms only went for the crème de la crème,” says Chris modestly.
Instead of trying to climb the greasy pole, the brothers decided to go it alone. Aged 26 and 27 they bought a shop in Chapel Market, Angel and started their property services business. “I went full-time straight away with Jon working evenings and weekends until he was able to leave his job. Our parents helped out immensely and their contribution has never been forgotten by both Jon and myself.”
Like many entrepreneurs, the brothers started out providing services to friends and family. “We knew a lot of people who had property portfolios and they were coming to us informally for advice,” said Chris. “It was a natural step to turn it into a business.”
Twenty three years later and Jon Christopher Chartered Surveyors is solid, providing professional property services and running its own property investment business. “A lot of the work we do is for family based offices. I don’t know if they’re attracted to us because we’re a family business ourselves, however, I certainly feel we understand this type of client more than other firms would.”
Chris thinks many family based businesses are in limbo at the moment. “The big banks don’t really understand what makes family businesses tick. I know firms that have been with the larger mainstream banks for decades and they’re kind of stuck now, because they just can’t get the finance they need to grow. I’ve always found that specialist banks understand family businesses better.”
Although the brothers have been in business together for most of their lives, they’ve seen enough of other set-ups to appreciate the benefits of working with your nearest and dearest. “There’s a camaraderie you get in a family business you don’t see anywhere else, “ he says “It’s a them versus us mentality and it makes you feel stronger.”
Working with other family businesses has focused the brothers’ attention on the next generation. “You see other families thinking about the future and it’s made us look at that too; what’s the best way to transfer our assets for example. This didn’t occur to us ten years ago.”
It’s too early to say if any of the brothers’ six children might follow them in to the family firm. “They’ve all done bits and pieces for us over the years during school holidays. We just say to them, go as far as you can with your education and get as many different experiences as you can.”