Jackson — Maurice Joseph and his firm, Maurice H. Joseph Inc., has been in the commercial real estate arena for more than a half-century now. Yet, many outside of the greater Jackson area, and even some within it, may be unfamiliar with Joseph and his company. However, that’s just how Joseph likes it.
A man who disdains the overuse of words, especially when it comes to talking about his accomplishments, Joseph at first shake seems all business. An occasional wry smile is about the only hint that behind his no-nonsense veneer is a man who values people and strives to deal with all in an honest, forthright way. But, when asked what brought him into the commercial real estate industry and kept him there for more than five decades, Joseph’s answer is surprising.
“Creating happiness,” he said flatly. “Real estate makes people happy.”
Joseph was referring to clients when he made that statement, but his staff feels he could be talking about them, as well. All of his full-time staff has been with him for more than a decade, two of them for more than 20 years.
Salesman/vice president Homer Borden has been at Maurice H. Joseph Inc. for 14 years and has some 40 years’ experience. Controller/vice president Sandi Peeples is in her 21st year, and Louise Anderson, office manager/vice president, has been working for Joseph for 23 years.
“Mr. Joseph is good to us,” Anderson said. “He’s a fair and honest employer who cares about us both personally and professionally. The working conditions are excellent, and he offers benefits that other companies don’t.” (Since going to work at the company, Anderson has earned her bachelor’s degree and Peeples is currently working on her four-year degree, all paid for by Joseph.)
Peeples added, “He’s devoted to us. We’re just giving that devotion back. I wouldn’t work anywhere else.”
When asked his secret to finding and retaining quality employees, the self-effacing Joseph said, “I’ve been lucky. Some excellent people have walked through my door — and stayed.”
Joseph’s affiliation with quality people predates Maurice H. Joseph Inc. He was born in Jackson in 1929, and is a product of Jackson Public Schools. Joseph went on to the University of Alabama where he studied commerce. Looking around for a career field, Joseph’s eyes landed on real estate.
“I realized I liked buildings, houses, neighborhoods,” he said. With that, his course was set. Joseph originally went to work for W.P. Bridges Sr. and W.P. Bridges Jr., two well-known figures in commercial real estate in the Capital City area.
Joseph gives a lion’s share of the credit for the company’s success to the two men.
“Not everyone is born with integrity,” he said. “I was impressed with their integrity, and carried it with me.”
In 1951, Joseph established Maurice H. Joseph Inc. in downtown Jackson. To say the company’s start was meager is an understatement. “It was me and two telephones,” Joseph quipped.
Today, the company handles all types of commercial property, with most of its work conducted in the greater Jackson area. A listing of properties on the firm’s Web site (www.mauricehjoseph.com) includes everything from a 2,195-square-foot retail space on Raymond Road to the 29-acre, undeveloped Lake Maurice in Pearl. Joseph said the company has sold much of its property, but that the portfolio still contains approximately 150,000 square feet.
Old pictures line the walls of Joseph’s office; yet, he is loath to talk about past achievements or his role in them.
“It’s all about hard work and loyal customers,” he said. He offered this advice to aspiring commercial real estate professionals, “Find a good company and go to work. Do what they tell you to do — and do it right away.”
The landscape of commercial real estate has changed since Joseph put out his shingle. Everything seems to be moving to the suburbs, creating “commuter cities.” But Joseph plans to keep bucking that trend.
“I’m too old to move. We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve always done,” he said. When asked how much longer he was going to continue to work, he said, “I’ll quit when I have more bad days than good.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.