From Junior Surveyor to Managing Director: Melissa Kroger's Journey in Property Development
Melissa Kroger's journey began during her criminology studies, a period of exploration to discover her true professional calling. Within a year, she departed from university and embraced a part-time position as Junior Surveyor within her father's property development company, Fenwood Estates.
Little did she anticipate that this decision would ignite her passion, ultimately becoming the cornerstone of her remarkable property investment journey. Fast-forward to today, and Melissa now stands as the Managing Director of Fenwood Estates, seamlessly succeeding her father upon his retirement. Under her guidance, the business thrives, showcasing her ability to construct and deliver top-tier, new-build homes to a diverse clientele of property investors and homeowners across South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
Here’s what Melissa had to say…
“During my 22 years with the company, I’ve worked extremely hands-on in every element of the business: from marketing to construction, onsite to in office, I really have worked my way up learning from the expertise and experience of my father within the business.”
“Now I am the managing director of Fenwood Estates, I feel so proud, and extremely excited to know that it is now all mine to take forward and keep building on the legacy that my family have created.”
Melissa shared with us that despite assumptions many people make, working so closely with her father for all these years has been an extremely positive experience, telling us how “me and my dad rarely disagree on business decisions. We shared the same business vision and were both dedicated to the quality and success of all of our developments and that priority always united us in any minor disagreements we had.”
Like many SME (Small Medium Enterprise) family companies, Melissa has still been keen to maintain a family feel within the company, even in her father’s retirement. Sharing with us how her own daughter, despite only being a teenager, has already added her creative fair to Fenwood Estates’ latest interior design plans for their upcoming developments.
“Even with my dad’s retirement, I try to make it a family environment,” Melissa shared. “We call it the ‘Fenwood Family’... everyone working with us is trusted, works hard, and has their heart in it, just like a true family does.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing…
“Like any rapidly expanding company, we’ve faced challenges along the way.
Our recent development, The Embankment, Mexborough (a stunning waterside development consisting of 17 three/four bedroom houses, and 8 two-bedroom apartments) was nothing short of an uphill battle.”
“The project took years to get off the ground and was very difficult to get moving, not to mention this all took place during the Covid-19 pandemic!
We faced lots of abnormal costs, the project wasn’t stacking up financially, and the very nature of the development being by the water created more problems than I initially anticipated.
As time ticked away on the project, I had to get creative with my solutions if I was to bring my vision to life and provide people with the high-quality bespoke homes I envisioned. This led me to working closely with Homes England and Sheffield City Region in order to secure grant funding and cost effective development funding, but with this, we finally got the project going!
Fast forward to today, Fenwood Estates’ Embankment site is now an award winning development, being praised for its tranquil canalside atmosphere, and reaching the grand finals of the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2022.
“From visiting this site as a young girl when it was just a commercial rental space of my dad’s, to now developing it to be an award winning project is just incredible. I’m so proud I stuck true to my vision, found creative solutions, and created one of Fenwood’s most successful projects to date!”
How has Melissa’s career fueled her freedom?
Like many Touchstone Education students, Melissa's achievements in property investment have unlocked her financial independence, opening doors to a lifestyle of true flexibility. This freedom has enabled her and her family to embrace thrilling travels and given them time to enjoy their shared passion for equestrian sports.
Melissa emphasised, “You’re the owner of your own future, you can take the company where you want to take it, and in turn enjoy the rewards however you choose!”.
Again, like many Touchstone Education students, Melissa and her ‘Fenwood Family’ have been able to leverage their accomplishments as a springboard for community support and charity work. Within this spirit, Fenwood Estates stands proudly as a member of the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice 365 Club, actively contributing to support families going through the toughest times.
What would Melissa say to anyone wanting to break into the property development industry?
In our conversation with Melissa, she shared the three most invaluable pieces of advice she would offer to those embarking on their property development journey:
- Start small, it’s important to know you can walk before you can run when starting in property development. If you can find a nice small site in a location where you know the market is buoyant or an area where you can hold and rent properties to make a good return, then that’s a perfect place to start.
- Conduct market research upfront. You need to do this to ensure you’re actually building the right product for the right area!
- Seek out funders who have a good track record and are respected in the industry. If you work with the wrong funders, or you’ve signed documents without proper legal advice you will likely face a lot of on-site and technical issues you didn’t see coming.
“Follow this advice and you will naturally progress from there, learning as you go along, and turning every project into a learning experience.”
“The property industry is very much male dominated, but it doesn’t frighten me.”
In my early years, it was quite intimidating especially when pursuing funding and pitching my development plan and visions to experienced men in the industry who were not used to working with women but over time, my passion, determination and confidence in my ability completely outweighed any doubts I had.”
We are moving forward as a society, and as a company we have plans to employ many more women in a variety of roles including brick laying and site management.
Don’t be afraid, the industry is evolving, and there really are opportunities for everyone now!”
To explore the remarkable developments crafted by Melissa and her team, follow the link to visit their website. If you're prepared to delve into the possibilities Fenwood Estates offers for your next investment opportunity, we encourage you to get in touch with Melissa via their website!
What Can Touchstone Education
Do For You?
If you’re inspired by Melissa’s story and want to get involved in a lesser known, highly lucrative area of property investment, join Gordie Dutfield at 8pm on 22nd August for his online masterclass:
Risk-Proof Returns: How I Secured 62 Properties Using None of My Own Money
Share Your Triumph: Inspire Others with Your Success Story!
Your Journey Matters - Let Your Achievements Motivate and Empower Others.