Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 25th 2015 Contents Jean de Meillac can distill his 40-plus years
in real estate into three main points for young
These are: Be honest. Be knowledgeable.
In an interview with the Sunday BG at his
office last Thursday, de Meillac, who is the
first lifetime achievement award winner at
Trinidadrealtor.com s first annual real estate
awards last Wednesday (see next page), got
his start in 1971, when a friend asked him to
join an agency he was starting up.
But he wasn t always interested in the busi-
He spent his boyhood between Mayaro---at
a coconut estate where his father was man-
ager---and Port-of-Spain, where he lived with
his grandmother during the week and attended
a school run by the nuns at Holy Name Con-
He said around nine years of age, he left
that school to attend the St Bendict s Boarding
"After that, at 14, I was sent away to Ireland,
where the Holy Ghost Fathers, the priests,
suggested that I go to boarding school there.
I wasn t enjoying Mt St Benedict much. I went
to Ireland, initially for one year and ended up
staying eight years," said de Meillac.
The CEO of the Trinidad branch of Terra
Caribbean, a real estate company, said he did
odd jobs around Ireland, sometimes going to
England, before he went on to university to
do building and survey with the Royal Institute
of Chartered Surveyors, but after three years,
was unsuccessful in obtaining the qualifica-
He returned to T&T in 1967 and lived in
San Fernando for four years, selling life insur-
ance. In 1971, he moved to Port-of-Spain and
worked with business legend, Ram Kirpalani
at Key Caribbean Publications.
That same year, he got a call from friend
Roger Murray to join him at a new company
he was starting, Real Estate Services Ltd. Along
with another associate, Percy Huggins, de
Meillac worked at the company for the next
"In 1987, my wife and I and my three boys
decided to go to Florida, where her mother
was. We went to a place named Boca Raton."
He sold real estate there as well, but his
family s stay would be short lived.
"We spent four years there. It was good.
We enjoyed it, but I didn t like being one in
230 million people. We also were not able to
make as good a living as we wanted to and
were using up our savings we had made here.
So we decided to go back to Trinidad to see
what was happening."
Returning to Trinidad, de Meillac said he
met with several senior business people at the
time and things looked like they would
progress. However, just before he came back
permanently with his family, the 1990 coup
At this point, de Meillac said he was offered
a job to run Radio 97.
"I started that with Peter Ames. We ran it
for about ten years and then also Radio 104
as well. Then I left, saying to myself that I
was going to semi retire."
To ensure that he would have some income
during this period of semi retirement, de Meil-
lac joined the staff of Terra Caribbean to do
large commercial sales.
"I figured I would do a couple sales a year,
make a few dollars, to cover my retirement
costs. But I got more involved in the admin-
istration, then became sales manager here.
After five years, the last manager, who was
Chris Fojo left to go live in the States with his
family. They offered me the position as a man-
ager. I took that up and I got some shares in
the company," said de Meillac.
When Lex Caribbean and the then Ernst
and Young sold their interest in the company,
de Meillac said he received more shares, the
administrative structure was altered and he
and the company s management team settled
down to growing Terra s business.
Challenges and opportunities
"Real estate is a full-time job," said de Meillac
and he doesn t advise that anyone take it on
part-time. The job was not just about selling
property, he said, but being knowledgeable
about property valuation, having a sense of
the proper market for a property, contracts
and taking the time to build relationships.
"This is a long-term business. It s not some-
thing you get into today and get out tomorrow.
You develop relationships with people. They
become your customers and your clients."
He said some his best clients remain people
SBG4 COVER STORY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 25 • 2015
Stalwart on 40 years in real estate
The real deal
Continued on Page 5
Jean de Meillac, CEO Terra Caribbean
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