John Green knows real estate. He knows the significance of education. He knows the importance of family and faith. He knows books. He even knows geography and engineering.
And John Green, the 2019 Readers’ Choice Man of the Year, knows Collierville.
Green, who has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida, founded John Green & Company Realtors in March 1979 on Center Street.
He has remained on Collierville’s Historic Town Square for 40 years and recently opened his new two-story office space at 50 N. Main Street.
Green’s roots as a realtor go deep. When he was six years old he walked around his small neighborhood in Brooker, Fla. offering to measure people’s homes.
He and a childhood pal stepped off the outside dimensions of the homes and wrote the numbers down on a pad of paper. They then gave the dimensions to the homeowner.
“Most of them were amused,” Green said at a recent Rotary Club meeting.
They were paid in change for their work.
“When I got home,” he said, “mother made me return all the money.”
His next encounter with real estate came just a few years later when he convinced his father to buy the Monopoly board game from nearby Gainesville.
“I must have played that game with the neighborhood kids for at least a thousand hours,” he noted. “Monopoly is all about real estate. If you will do exactly in real life what you have to do to win in the game, you will win in real life.”
After graduating from Florida, Green worked with Buckeye Cellulose for two years in Perry, Fla.
In 1966, he was transferred to Memphis to work for the company’s technical center.
A year later, Green would find the time to obtain his Tennessee Real Estate License.
“I became a chemical engineer to make a living,” he said, “and went into real estate to make a better living.”
That same year he would marry a school teacher named Marilyn. The couple would go on to have two sons, Allen and Michael, who would in turn go on to operate the family real estate business years later.
Green resigned from Buckeye in 1968 to devote all of his time to real estate.
However, two years later he had returned to his former employer.
“I had completely failed to make it,” he said.
In 1972, the family moved to Northern Alberta, Canada so that Green could help start a large pulp mill for Buckeye.
Four years later the family moved again to Northwest Ontario, Canada where Green was production manager.
While living up north, Green remained active in real estate.
“I decided it was time for me to get back to Tennessee and go back to real estate, full-time,” he said.
So, the family settled down in Germantown in 1977. Green worked as a broker out of Clark Tower on Poplar Ave.
That is when Green first laid eyes on Collierville. While shopping for a car in the nearby municipality, Green recalled being very impressed with the town.
“Germantown had no car dealers,” he remembered. “It was a bedroom community to Memphis.”
Green said that Germantown was primarily a residential community that lacked businesses and industry.
“Collierville has always been pro residential, pro business and pro industry,” he noted. “You can live, work and play in Collierville.”
He quickly saw the town’s potential. Green recalled a conversation with a man he met in church.
“He told me how important Poplar Ave. is to Shelby County,” he said. “It is the only street that extends the full length of Shelby County without a name change and all the most important developments have always worked their way east on Poplar.”
Since that time, Green has adopted the slogan, “Poplar Ave. is the rainbow of Shelby County and Collierville is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Once he discovered the town’s other advantages, including schools and public safety, he was on his way.
He opened his business in March 1979.
“I was completely out of cash and borrowed $5,000 from a friend,” he said.
But eventually his theory regarding the properties along Poplar Ave. paid off.
He noted that homes in Germantown and Bartlett were fetching more money throughout the 1980s.
“I predicted from the very beginning of my career,” he said, “based on the history of Poplar Ave., that someday the average price in Collierville would be twice that of a home in Bartlett. My prediction was correct.”
Soon, Green began renting the building at 116 N. Main. Then he moved to 110 N. Main.
Once he was rooted in Collierville, Green became very active in the community, joining the Rotary Club and becoming a proud Mason.
One of Green’s proudest accomplishments is the foundation of the Collierville Education Foundation (CEF), which has awarded $1.4 million in grants since 1996.
In the late 1980s, Green was approached by a school principal while attending a Rotary meeting.
“She said, ‘John, you realtors and builders should do something for the teachers since you are selling so many homes because of the schools,'” he recalled. “I agreed to see what I could do.”
He sent out a letter to all of the realtors and builders he knew asking for a donation of $50 to attend a luncheon. The Teacher Appreciation Luncheon was a success.
In 1996, Green responded again and helped form the CEF.
Another matter of pride for Green is the library he created at 205 Mills Street. He has more than 6,000 books, with more than 1,200 on U.S. presidents.
When asked how Green has led such a well-rounded, successful and balanced life, he attributes the teachings of his parents, one of whom was a teacher and the other a farmer.
“The most important things I have learned in life came from my mother and father,” he said. “I was taught how to treat people, be persistent, never give up, be consistent and be decisive.”