Q&A with Scanlans chairman Ian Stanistreet as he celebrates a 40-year milestone

Q&A with Scanlans chairman Ian Stanistreet as he celebrates a 40-year milestone

This month marks 40 years since Scanlans chairman Ian Stanistreet began his property career. 

Ian, 58, left school in 1978 and a few months later joined city centre practice Frank Westbrook as a trainee chartered surveyor.

In this feature, Ian reflects on his milestone and career highlights.

He also gives some fascinating insights into his life – including a boyhood appearance in Coronation Street!

Tell us about your background 

One of two brothers, I grew up in Wythenshawe and attended Poundswick High School. Dad was a manager with TV rentals business Visionhire and mum worked in an office. Towards the end of her career, she took a job in human resources at Manchester Airport and was secretary of the Manchester Airport Retired Staff Association. 

When I left school I thought about becoming a journalist or a lawyer, but I responded to an advert for a trainee surveyor at Frank Westbrook in Manchester city centre and got the job, earning £25 a week when I started in October 1978.

I supplemented my wage by working behind the bar at The Lantern pub in Wythenshawe. There, I met Christine, who was also employed at the pub.

You could say it was ‘love at first pint’ and we have been happily married since 1982. We have two children and four grandchildren.

Can you talk us through your first job and subsequent career path?

Frank Westbrook was owned by Frank’s son Neil (later to become Sir Neil), who was a former Lord Mayor of Manchester and quite a character. He was also chairman of Trafford Park Estates PLC.

I was thrown in at the deep end and my duties were varied, including sitting in his car when it was parked on double yellow lines to make sure he didn’t get a ticket!

The business mainly managed properties for the Westbrook family, and I was the first point of contact for tenants who needed repairs. I was also involved in the management of a large property portfolio in the Northern Quarter, mostly occupied by clothing wholesalers.

I qualified as a surveyor in 1987 and, shortly afterwards, Neil Westbrook retired and I acquired the business for a token sum, becoming the sole principal.

I merged it with Scanlans in 1989 and became a partner. In October 2016 I became chairman of Scanlans.

I have never considered leaving and even at the age of 58 I am not thinking about retiring. My roles have always been interesting and rewarding and I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people, which is still the case to this day.

What do you like most about your current role?

Being a partner in a successful independent means I am involved in the running of the practice on a daily basis, along with the challenges it inevitably brings. A typical day never turns out as I expect, but I like it that way.

What are the biggest highlights of your career to date?

Taking the annual turnover of our block management business through the £1m barrier from a standing start. It’s now over £2m and growing year-on-year. 

Becoming chairman of Scanlans in 2016.

Who has inspired you most in your career?

Sir Neil Westbrook. He was my first and only boss, not counting the landlord of The Lantern. Sir Neil was a no-nonsense businessman who didn’t suffer fools, and maybe that’s why I liked him. I don’t suffer fools either. He got things done and was highly-respected. Sadly, he passed away four years ago.

How has the profession changed over the years?

Increased regulation. While most of it is necessary, it has increased the burden on surveyors and property managers. We are all much more accountable. 

Another change has been that most surveyors now specialise in one particular area rather than several.

What advice would you give someone starting out as a surveyor?

Work hard, treat people with respect and try not to worry.

What are your pet hates at work?

Poor grammar. I correct it when I can, but it’s sometimes a bit of an uphill battle.

People being late for meetings. There is little one can do about it other than setting an example to always try to be punctual.

What are your thoughts on Manchester and the city’s development, from a professional point of view?

It is unrecognisable from 1978. There was little of the night-time economy in those days. 

The IRA bombing in 1996 proved a catalyst for regeneration and Manchester has gone from strength to strength. 

The schemes currently under way are exciting additions and will improve the city centre even further, pushing its boundaries into areas that have been neglected for years.

They will provide much-needed housing and facilities for families within easy reach of the city centre.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I enjoy reading, hill walking, cycling and drumming. I’ve been in various bands over the years. Currently I play with two friends as the Benzino Brothers. We just do it for fun, although we recently busked in Cheadle.

Tell us something about yourself that people may not know 

As a youngster in the 1970s, I was an extra in various TV programmes, including Coronation Street, Family at War and the sitcom The Dustbinmen.

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