We all know how blessed we are to live in this amazing community. There are so many wonderful things that make it special. I am convinced it’s the people that make the biggest impact. I had the privilege of meeting one of those people who make the difference, Mr. John Maher. As we talked, I not only understood why and how he has been so successful in life and in business but also as a role model and a true Southern Gentleman.
What do you love most about Williamson County?
The people. It has been a very welcoming community to me. It is a great place to raise a family, and start and run a business; plus, with four children, the school system – academics and sports – are all awesome! I love downtown Franklin; it has its unique charm. People talk about the Williamson bubble, and I feel like we truly are in an ideal place.
Tell me about your family and where you grew up.
I grew up in Kentucky with my mom, dad and six siblings. I was the oldest, and she had all seven of us before the age of thirty. In 1972, I received a football scholarship to play football at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) as an offensive lineman. I have been married to my wife, Margie, for forty-five years. We have four children; three daughters and one son, who are part of the family business.
Your story of how you came into the home-building business is intriguing. Tell me a bit more.
Well, in 1978, I got licensed as a real estate agent. John Green had a local real estate/insurance company in Franklin, and I was affiliated with him most of the time while I was a teacher and coach. I became more interested in real estate and began investing in properties – buying a house and renting it behind us for the first seven years we were married. By the time I quit teaching, we had fourteen rental units. I bought a book by Carl Heldmann, Be Your Own House Contractor: How to Save 25 Percent Without Lifting a Hammer, the latter being the key. So, I borrowed money from a local banker and built a 1,200-square-foot home. After my tenth year of teaching, I went full-time into building.
How does it feel to be Spring Hill’s #1 homebuilder for over 30 years?
We feel blessed and fortunate. A lot of it was timing – the right place at the right time. In the beginning, it was starter homes. But, as this community has matured, we have grown with it. Currently, we are selling and building the first million-dollar neighborhood in Spring Hill. We take great pride in watching Spring Hill grow and participating in the growth. I project Spring Hill will double again in the next ten years. One in every six homes in Spring Hill we have built, which at this time is about 2,700 to 2,800 homes. A lot of credit goes to my employees; the core people have been here since the start, which is over twenty-five years.
What motivates you?
I feel like I am still a teacher and coach at heart, and I have been able to carry that over into the business. I believe I have the God-given motivation to learn and the desire to be better. Also, the people that depend on me motivate me to do my best.
What and to whom do you attribute your success?
By far, the number one thing was marrying the right person. My wife, Margie, has been extremely supportive through it all.
What advice would you give a young you or to today’s younger generation to help them reach their potential and be the best they can be…in life as well as business?
The number one piece of advice for young people would be to search for something they really love to do. I have never looked at what I do as a job because it is something I love. If making money is what you want to achieve, find something you are passionate about. If you are in a financial situation to go to college, do it. Surround yourself with high-caliber people. In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Find a mentor. The most successful people are the most open in giving advice. In your free time, take Dale Carnegie classes, coaching courses and listen to podcasts to better yourself.
What do you think it means to be a Southern Gentleman? Are there individuals in your life whom you feel espouse what being a southern gentleman is?
When I think of people that fit the description of a Southern Gentleman, they are business people that care about the community, participate and contribute. There is an intangible quality in the way they carry themselves. Local Southern Gentlemen that come to mind are Ed Moody, Jimmy Gentry and John Green. John Green was influential to me in a lot of ways. He taught me, “you got to let the other man make money… It has got to be fair both ways.”
What are your favorite pastimes?
When I have extra time, I love walking through new construction sites and homes. I try to work out five days a week. My wife and I enjoy visiting music venues such as The Ryman, City Winery and the Franklin Theatre – table ten is our spot! I also love to watch the Andy Griffith show.
Tell us about your philanthropic endeavors in this community and why you feel it is essential to give back.
Most of the things we have done have involved children and education. All my children have been blessed to have amazing influences and experiences, so awarding the John Maher Builders Scholar-Athlete scholarships for the past sixteen years to local students feels good. Also, this year marked the fifteenth John Maher Builders Whole Hog Festival in Spring Hill, benefiting The Well Outreach. Those are a few areas where we give back.
Additional thoughts you would like to share with our readers:
I was honored to be included with an amazing group of local people as one of Williamson County’s Community Partners when we were on the cover of the first issue of YOUR Williamson in May of 2011.