By Sadie Fowler
As founder and owner of Ole South Properties, Tennessee’s largest homebuilder, John Floyd has led his company to incredible success over the years. But at the end of the day, Floyd’s true passion these days goes beyond a brilliant business deal.
Floyd feels a genuine responsibility to give back to his community, make a difference, and help those who can’t help themselves — especially children.
“Doing great deals is great, but giving to organizations who can change people’s lives matters most,” Floyd said. “If you’re like me and have prospered, you have a responsibility to help others and over the years, as I’ve given more to charities, the more I’ve prospered ... You reach a certain point where ‘stuff’ doesn’t matter as much, but the feeling you get from changing lives does. It gives me great joy.”
Floyd has received every accolade imaginable related to business and real estate. He has served on boards of countless charities. There’s no telling how much money he’s donated to worthy causes.
“I have always had a soft spot for helping children,” he said, specifically mentioning his support of Special Kids and the Boys and Girls Club. “This month it might be one group and next, something different, but I’ve always enjoyed supporting things that help children. The hard part when you give back a lot is that sometimes you have to say no. It can get overwhelming.”
Floyd admits he has a bit of a softer approach to life than he once had, a trait few would probably realize about him based on his continued dominance in the business world.
“After the recession I became more private,” he said. “It humbled people in real estate and in all business, I think. People used to be jealous of each other and out to get each other but after the recession they just want to hug each other … My zapper has been zapped. I am not out to ‘out do’ anyone. I just want everyone to be happy and prosper.”
Years ago, when Floyd first started out in real estate, his passion for making good deals drove him to succeed. Since its inception in 1986, Ole South, ranked among the Top 100 Home Builders in the country, has been dedicated to providing the very best new home value to families all over Middle Tennessee.
For more than a decade, Floyd has been recognized by TVA as the largest EnergyRight Independently-owned builder in its seven-state region.
“When I started out, I really just loved making deals. I had no idea whether or not I’d be good at it, but turns out things worked out pretty good … For me, a guy that just went to high school, real estate was the only thing I knew of where a man could prosper and do well without a degree. You can opt out of a cruise or a fancy car, but housing is always a necessity.”
Floyd says one of the best things he’s done in business is surround himself with great people. Having a talented team allows him to explore other things in life, though his roots always call him home.
“I don’t work as much as I once did, but when I go to Florida or somewhere, after four or five days I’m ready to come back … The art of the deal is what I love the most. Business is harder now, I think, but if it were easy everyone would do it.”
Going back to his early days, Floyd says he learned a lot by simply listening to those who knew more than him. Now, he’s the one offering advice.
“It takes money to make money,” he said, explaining his best piece of advice to young entrepreneurs. “If you don’t have money it’s not going to work. You can be the greatest guy in the world, but without money it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to create capital. That’s the key to doing business, in a good or bad market. In fact, in a bad market money is all that matters. Net worth means nothing. People want to know how much liquidity you have.”
Honing in on real estate specifically, Floyd cautions people to not bite off more than they can chew and to know their budget before shopping for a home.
“That’s the number one mistake people make,” he said. “They buy more house than they can afford and become a slave to the payment. They forget about the utilities, insurance, maintenance and other things. It’s not just a house payment.”
Murfreesboro has become one of the most competitive areas around in terms of real estate because of its affordability, Floyd said.
“When you compare it to other places, such as Franklin, it has a good quality of life … Twenty years ago, if you wanted to get a nice meal or your wife wanted a dress for the Heart Ball or you needed quality medical care you had to go to Nashville. Now, Murfreesboro is a regional location where you can get all of those things. Just look around. There are a lot of cars in our parking lots with out-of-county tags.”
Floyd says he’s never seen the housing market the way it is right now, and predicts it will soften up at some point.
“With prices so high it will have to have an effect on sales at some point,” he said. “There are definitely a lot more buyers than sellers right now, so if you’re trying to buy don’t think too long. The house you’re looking at won’t be available long. Time is definitely of the essence in this market.”
Floyd is married to wife Gina. He has one daughter Stephanie and a granddaughter, Zelda.