To inspire our young readers, the britishasianews.com initiates a unique column 'Story that Matters', which will include a brief interview with successful migrant entrepreneurs in the UK. Whether the achievement small or big it does not matter, but the journey towards success is what really matters for today's youth.
If you come across any such achievers in UK please notify us with the contact details, we will be happy to talk to them for a feature on this column.
British Asia News Network
London, Oct 15: We are waiting in an elegant office, the walls covered in awards for “Best Residential Development” & “Outstanding achievement in Real Estate” amongst others. There are beautiful photos of luxury homes and interiors, a glance outside shows the office surrounded by lush green gardens; a view that embodies the rural English countryside. A sophisticated man, in his mid-60s walks in to meet with us, exuding a real presence. From the moment he introduces himself, his passion for his family and work are clearly evident. Meet Dalbir Singh Sandhu.
In his own right, a tremendously successful businessman, highly regarded throughout the British Asian community and beyond. His dedication to charity and the community at large is well known, and it is for this reason we have come to meet with Dalbir. No stranger to adversity, he has certainly seen some hard times, and faced them head on. Through a positive approach and perseverance, he has managed to build an enduring and immediately recognisable brand.
He is the founder of ‘Landmark Group’, a household name in the UK Property sector.
"I have seen hard days as well as good days, but never chased after money; never run after wealth. I have always worked hard, with patience and passion." says Sandhu.
It was in the year 1963 that his father first landed in the UK, and the rest of the family followed in 1966. Sandhu was just 12 years old at the time.
"My father was an ordinary factory worker. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. He was in the British Army, so they gave him a chance to come here and work," Sandhu recalls.
An electrical engineer by profession, Sandhu started working in 1976, earning approximately £2,500 a year. Even though his qualifications were technical in nature, he started work for an insurance company. "An interesting thing about my career is that it started out of sheer chance!
One day, someone came to me selling life insurance, and by learning the trade from him, I joined him at his work! I went on to sell insurance policies and then thought, ‘why don’t I start my own business- do the same?’ So, in 1979 I started my own brokering business," says Sandhu.
"Whilst the brokerage business was in progress, another idea struck me. (We used to sell half the insurance policies to real estate firms, it was a very lucrative sector) why not enter the real estate sector? I started it and soon it clicked into place. It was a good idea, and we started off slowly but surely.
We were not only successful in this field, but climbed to the No. 1 position in West London, receiving national awards in realty sector, and that prompted us to establish our second office in 1984," he adds.
"I realised that my passion lay in the development of property and not in selling houses. Building our own properties became my dream. In 2000 my son graduated in the field of Town Planning and I thought it was time to start something significant.
That's when 'Landmark Group' came into existence, and why we are here today," Sandhu says with a smile.
"You know, I'm a very practical person and I like to work, and in those days, we were used to putting in hard work, getting your hands dirty (as they say now!) to get the property development business up and running.
Initially, we were only two, and then my nephew joined. A few years later, we were employing approximately 20 people in the office.
Today, we have approximately 80-90 sub-contractors at any given time," he adds.
While sharing his journey, Sandhu was happy to discuss his formula for success with British Asia News readers.
"Well, I knew I had more in me to give (to this business) and my target was never the money itself, but to become successful in what I do.
If you do the job you're good at, money follows, but starting out is not easy. It's very difficult, and involves lots of sleepless nights, lots of struggles.
The important thing I would say is that you should never be afraid of failure, you must always try. If you fail, it doesn't matter, you can do it again and again till you succeed. So; persistence, dedication, hard work - these are what make a successful business."
Listening intently during this exchange, his son Mav Sandhu, the Managing Director of the company, shares how he was inspired to get into this business. At a young age (he is just 40), Mav exudes a sense of maturity beyond his years.
"I think with any undertaking, there has to be willingness to work. I think what's unique about our family is that there's a real drive to succeed and I think there's a mutual goal, we have a common vision.
I think with any a common vision there has to be an end result. For me, that end result was never measured purely by financial success.
It was about building a company that leaves behind a legacy. I think that remains true not only as a firm but also as a legacy for future generations. You know, as my father has already said, when my Granddad arrived here, he came with nothing, but instilled in my Father a set of values and the right support for him to create something for himself.
We have simply built on that platform for the next generation to grow it even further, just as my father did for me. We hope to leave behind a successful business for our children, and further generations.
The end goal is that the name, brand "Landmark" should really mean something in the times to come."
Dalbir Sandhu says, "Here (in UK) we are connected to different communities with lots of involvement. My desire to give back meant that I constantly pushed myself to do things outside of the family business. In 1998, I became the youngest President of the Chamber of Commerce.
For 11 years, I served on the Board of Governors for a local school, 'Featherstone High School' (London Borough of Hounslow), and helped to take it from the position of third from the bottom to second from the top. That was a big achievement for us and for me on a personal level. I think education is extremely important as it opens many doors for those looking to progress. We share our experience by engaging actively with lots of charity work and sharing our knowledge.”
Dalbir Singh Sandhu is humble and down-to-earth, with a huge passion for philanthropy. His wider goals are to support the future of his community and help the younger generation.
Landmark Group, which is stepping into its 25th glorious year, is today recognised not only nationally but internationally too. The awards this group has received from national and international bodies are a testament of its remarkable journey.
Only a few weeks ago they won the International Property Awards 2019-2020 for two luxury developments.
When asked about the future goals of the company, Mav Sandhu says, "Thinking back to where we started, we undertook small development projects to now doing multi-unit development, we've grown tremendously over the past 25 years.
If I look back, we were very much hands-on. Those times have come and gone. But we keep a very close eye on every single development - either my father or I visit every project at least once a week, to stay hands on.
But we've grown from doing small development works to medium-sized development works and now we're on to quite large development projects.
We've also moved into other markets around the home counties. In fact, very soon we're building a nine-storey apartment building in Slough, Berkshire. Due to the large investment into Crossrail, the area is perfect for families and commuters alike.
I believe this building will be one of the tallest in the area, and we're calling it 'Landmark View', where you will have the best views of the city.
As time progresses, we must be adaptable to the market, we can't be stuck in our ways. We are known as a luxury home developer, but we have to move with the market and what is required of us. People are living in different ways now.
So we have to adapt what we do with the changing mind-sets of the community. But the 'Landmark' ethos can't change. Our brand is built on the strength of its quality and ensuring the very best standards, and that will continue to matter no matter what," Mav says.
'There was a time we did not even have food on the table':
While recalling the tough days of his career, Dalbir Singh becomes emotional. "I have passed through three major recessions in this market, in this country, for the last 25 years. There was a time we did not even have food on the table, but we never gave up.
You do not give up - those things came and went, and we learnt from them. We survived a tough time and will continue to survive, because of our family ethos, because of our family's unity and that is very, very important. Your family must stand beside you in good times and bad. It's important to keep that in mind throughout."
Indirectly, Sandhu gives an important message; that before building houses for others, one must build and strengthen one's own home.
Looking at the disciplined promoters, management and the ethos of the company, it seems certain that ‘Landmark Group’ will be here for generations to come.
To know more about The Landmark Group - Click Here
Watch Video message:
Good work, for winning international and national awards. We Asians can be proud of you thank you
Great Read. Hard work graft is what sets high achievers from the rest, and when the older generation allows the next generation to come and take the lead is how we see businesses go to the top. Dalbir Singh good work.
Good good story. South Asian diaspora businesses have boomed UK excomony and need recognition like this. Good work Land Mark Group. We wish you all the best in growing futher and reaching for the top.
Well done to Landmark Group and well done to British asia news for highligting such businesses from the UK. Yes Asian poeple in UK have done very well and we dont hear enough about them. There are nownew generations taking it to the mext level and we need to highlight them.
Yes I think Suraj M you are correct. I agree with this. The the succeders will be businesses who allow their children to flourish their business.
Good story, hard work pays off. Youth of today need to learn that you have to work hard to become big
Very inpsirational, the fact that a younger generation has successfuly worked with the older generation, and grown the company together- well done...both of you should be a inspiration to this generation.