In Inspiring Buckinghamshire

The Heart of Bucks ‘Inspiring Buckinghamshire’ series gives local people from a range of sectors a chance to share their knowledge and insights to help inspire others.

Here we are speaking with Michael Garvey, Managing Director of Chandler Garvey.

Tell us about yourself and your connection to Buckinghamshire.

I was born and raised in High Wycombe and attended the John Hampden Grammar School, before taking a degree in Valuation Surveying in Stoke-on-Trent before pursuing a career as a Chartered Surveyor focused on commercial property. Working initially along the M4 corridor, with a couple of periods of time in Reading and then Bracknell, I joined the forerunner of my current practice in 2004. Chandler Garvey offers investors, developers, landlords and tenants a full service property consultancy and is one of the best known and successful practices in the region.

Beyond property, I have had a passion for more than 15 years for economic development and the relationship that the public sector has with the private sector in order to achieve better outcomes for residents and businesses. I have given an enormous amount of time free of charge to various organizations, bringing with me expert knowledge of the built environment and in particular how providing the right balance of accommodation for

What personal achievements are you most proud of?

I was one of the founders of Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF) in 2011; initially the Vice Chairman and for the past several years the Chairman. Along with 9 other businesspeople we wanted to make a difference to the prosperity of the county and BBF now has more than 14,000 business members accounting for 70% of all employment in the county.

BBF lobbied for a Local Enterprise Partnership in Bucks and I was the Vice Chair and a Board Member for 9 years and since inception the LEP has brought more than £100 million of investment into the county.

I undertake a significant amount of pro bono work for local charities and not-for-profit organizations, including Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and my business is a Heart of Bucks community investor and I am currently exploring further opportunities to work with Henry and his excellent team, including an opportunity to make a donation every time our newly launched Prestige Homes department sells a house now that we are residential agents.

What are some of the challenges you have faced, and how have you overcome them?

Being the Managing Director and owner of Chandler Garvey for the past 18 years has been very challenging at times and the financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting deep recession was difficult for many businesses and certainly with commercial property sector is very sensitive to economic difficulties. The Covid pandemic was also particularly challenging, but we use that opportunity to take a hard look at the business and our processes and after making many changes we came out the other end stronger; as did many other businesses.

Adapting to changing market conditions is something that we are good at and the launch this year of our residential sales division is a reflection of the huge amount of demand for housing and is a natural extension of the development work we have done for many years, releasing sites for development.

It’s said that you can’t teach attitude, and we choose team members carefully based upon a can do attitude and this is why I think we have been so successful.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I remember many years ago working my summer holiday when I was doing my A-levels at a transport company that my mother worked for in High Wycombe for the transport manager said to me and his advisers proved very helpful in my career as a property consultant. He said, every time you go somewhere come back a different way and in that way you’ll see twice as much. Working in the built environment, I’ve seen twice as much as most other people!

As a much younger surveyor, I worked with a very entrepreneurial property agent in Bracknell in a newly opened office and he taught me that there is nothing you can’t achieve if you just go for it. I later likened this to what Yoda said to Luke Skywalker; “do or do not, there is no try”.

What is your greatest hope for the future for Buckinghamshire?

Buckinghamshire is a wonderful place to live and work and has a population with a strong sense of community that supports so many charities and not-for-profit organizations, with a business community made up of mostly small and micro businesses that are owner managed by local people who have a very strong connection with place. My hope is that we can maintain this community spirit, despite the very many challenges that seem to be growing each year for businesses and households. Progress is inevitable and whilst there is a tension between protecting countryside and encouraging development, standing still is never an option and was clearly the vocal minority is a very important role to play in political decision-making this can’t be at the expense of the silent majority.

Levelling up seems to mean investing in the North, as far as national politics is concerned currently, but the contribution that counties like Bucks makes to the UK Exchequer should never be overlooked.

Follow Michael on LinkedIn.

Read more of our Inspiring Buckinghamshire interviews here.