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Esa Huovila

Managing Director for St. James Properties, is an engaging professional, who brings enthusiasm, ebullience and expertise to his work, whilst at the same time, enjoying his family life to the utmost. What he has to say about the island’s real estate business is worth hearing.

December 2010

Where are you from originally? Deep Wilderness, in Finland.

Tell us a little about your background. I was educated in Finland, but moved abroad almost immediately. I worked in marketing and sales for six years in Spain and was then offered a position in Asia back in 1995. Since then, I’ve worked in the Philippines, Australia, Fiji and Singapore.

When did you move to Phuket? I’d started a business in Bangkok in 2001, and about two and a half years ago my directors and I took the decision to move to Phuket. I’ve always been in real estate and the island seemed to be the place to be. Ever since I met my first client who subsequently bought a property, it’s been my life.

Please tell us about your job in general? In general it is like “match.com” helping people in all aspects relating in everything you imagine of their needs here in Phuket and much more.

Please tell us about your approach to work? Working as part of a team, helping people to find what they want. We’ve put more than a hundred families in the house of their dreams.

Tell us about your style of leadership. Leading by example, being enthusiastic. Also I try putting myself in the shoes of my employees to understand their point of view. I folliow the 6 P Principle = Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

What’s your call on the marketplace? Well, it’s been a tough two years but we’ve stayed focussed. We weren’t here in the good old days, of course. Broadly, I’m optimistic. Tourist arrivals continue to rise and everybody needs a place to live. In fact, in the short term there may even be a shortage of suitable developments. Sales in the $150,000 range have stood up well. Our customers come from all over the world. The Russians are here in quantity but there are many other nationalities in the marketplace. Ours is a multi-lingual environment.

What do you think about the property market for this high season? Is it for the better? What do you worry about the most? There is only one direction of the Phuket property market and my opinion it's all positive. As the visitor arrivals are increasing year by year and quality accommodation is the basic need of all humans. That will have a direct impact to our business. The only real worry is that in the short term that there might be lack of supply of new quality projects.

How do you handle stress? Exercise, and maybe have a few beers after work with my friends.
Who is the person who has most influenced you? Hard to say, as every single day someone teaches me something new.

Which part of Phuket is your favourite? Koh Sire. The place is still quiet and unspoiled, and yet it’s only five minutes into town.

How is Phuket from your point of view? The island is a great place to raise a family. It’s also centrally located for regional travel.

What do you like and dislike about living in Phuket? I like the international flavour and the warm weather and fresh air all year round. I really dislike the way people leave rubbish everywhere and oh, those unsightly electric poles.

What do you think Phuket should improve upon? Maybe the local government could hone its communication skills with the expatriate community. The public transportation system requires a complete rework to make it comparable with other major areas of Thailand. Until this is done, we’ll get more and more traffic on the already busy roads of Phuket.

What do you worry about Phuket the most? That we humans may be helping to create the next natural disaster due to overdevelopment. However, more stringent building regulations are helping to put the brakes on this.

How old are you? I’m 41.

Tell us about your family. I live with my Taiwanese partner and we have a 16-month-old baby boy.
Whereabouts do you live in Phuket? Kamala Beach. I like the place because it offers great quality of life. It feels residential but it has all the necessary conveniences. At the same time, it’s only ten minutes away from Patong and Bangtao.

What influenced your choice when you bought your house? Location. I think it’s also a great capitals gain investment. Besides that, it suits my lifestyle requirements.

Could you tell us about your lifestyle? I’m happy. I’m enjoying every moment of it. I love my family and I’m grateful that they tolerate my frequent absences due to the demands of my work.

I really look forward to a brunch with them, or making a trip to the beach for swimming. Any free time I have, I spend it with them. I do like an occasional game of golf, of course! Usually, my free time is all about relaxing or catching up on the latest sports news. I also try to keep fit by playing squash or doing a bit of jogging.

Any thoughts on retirement? Not really. As each generation lives longer, we have to put off thoughts like this.

What are your immediate plans for the future? In my own small way, to contribute to making Phuket become one of the best living paradise destinations in the world.

How would you rate the quality of your life? On a scale from nought to ten I’d rate life at ten. I’m blessed by being surrounded by my family, colleagues and friends.

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