As the chairman of The New Albany Co. and the owner of the John W. Kessler Co., John “Jack” W. Kessler believes in developing real estate projects that have a fresh perspective as well as nurturing strong partnerships in the business world and in the community.
“It’s common sense. Don’t let your ego get in the way,” he says. “You never know who can help you or hurt you. Just treat people the way you want to be treated.”
A respected local business leader, Kessler has played a key role in the development of several successful real estate projects, such as New Albany, Muirfield and Seabrook Island, S.C. These innovative projects have reshaped development patterns and inspired other higher-quality developments.
In addition to his impressive business credentials, Kessler recently completed his last term as a member of the board of directors of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase and Bank One before the merger, shared some thoughts on Kessler and his leadership abilities.
“Throughout his 12 years as a director, Jack has consistently represented the interest of all shareholders by participating in the open discussions essential for an effective board of directors,” Dimon says. “At both Bank One and JPMorgan Chase, Jack has strongly supported our tough decisions, generating dramatic improvements for our company and our financial performance.”
Business leaders often find it rewarding to give back to the neighborhoods that support their companies. As part of his focus on community involvement, Kessler continues to serve on the board of Abercrombie & Fitch, the Columbus Municipal Airport Authority and The John Glenn Institute.
He is a past chairman of The Ohio Public Works Commission, United Way of Central Ohio, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Museum of Art and The Ohio Arts & Sports Facilities Commission. He also served on the boards of The Limited Inc. and the Cleveland Federal Reserve and was the past president of the Columbus School for Girls.
He has received many awards for his outstanding work with community organizations. Among them are the Builder of Columbus Award, the Builders Exchange Columbus Award, Columbus Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen, the Gerlach Award and the Columbus Public Schools Hall of Fame Award.
In the course of a day, executives come into contact with numerous people at meetings, sales calls, trade shows or other work-places. Kessler believes every handshake represents the potential for growth.
“Some of the best things, businesswise, that have happened to me have been from chance encounters I’ve had in the past with people that I’ve had good relationships with,” Kessler says. “The relationships have come back and paid dividends to me. And when I did it, I never expected that.”
Kessler says successful business leaders should be good role models for their employees and be accessible to their team members. If the company owner puts his heart and soul into his job, employees will see that effort and emulate it in their own day-to-day activities.
“Give them good goals to accomplish, monitor them along the line and help them if they’re getting off the path,” he says. “Just be a good mentor to them, and be a hard worker.”
Kessler encourages his employees to ask him questions about a project or bounce ideas off of him. He believes that his accessibility helps his employees make proper decisions when faced with difficult business dilemmas and helps them gain valuable business experience. In the end, he wins by having a more valuable employee on his team.
Kessler says knowing a good deal when he sees it is a gut reaction.
“We do it based on economics,” he says. “I have a pretty good eye for what makes economic sense, but success is determined not just by economics. A lot of it is based on good business relationships and the associations you have: Where is the opportunity, who brought it, and who are the other partners in it? There are a whole host of things that would lead you to decide whether you want to pursue it or not.”
HOW TO REACH: The New Albany Co. and John W. Kessler Co., (614) 939-8100