“It was over 30 years ago but even now, I get pictures from friends when they see College Pro signs asking me ‘Remember when you did that?’” Yeah, Jeff is a pretty proud College Pro alum. Today he lives in Qatar, where he’s the Managing Director of NelsonPark Property.
Jeff’s College Pro Journey
Coming from Wallaceburg, a small town in Ontario, Jeff knew he didn’t want to spend his summer at home, doing factory work: “I always wanted to work for myself. When I started university and saw College Pro signs being posted, I thought ‘that would be so different, to run my own company for the summer!’” He says he jumped in with a true sense of “uninformed optimism,” but his curious nature and willingness to soak up experiences served him well.
Jeff ran a CP franchise for two years in Chatham-Kent and worked in a CP office in London for another year. Looking back on his experience he says, “I take great pride in what I did, because it was different - running a company at that young age.”
He loved the experience of running a franchise for multiple years: “Oh, it was SO much easier the second time around. You get rid of the stuff you did really badly the previous year and gear up again.” He says he didn’t focus enough on business development during his first year, so he shifted his efforts there the second summer: “The crew got so efficient - we ran out of work in two weeks!” Jeff says that even if a franchisee sees minimal success in their first summer, they’d “have to be silly only doing one year.” When asked why he didn’t run a franchise for a third year, he replies: “I don’t know why I didn’t go back a third year! Looking back, I should have.”
Jeff Since College Pro
Jeff has had a stellar, storied career. After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1990, he joined what became HSBC, working in their Mississauga office for two years. Later, he switched into HSBC’s international program, a move that set off a series of international adventures: “Without a doubt, it’s because of College Pro that I got that international job. Having run my own business, it really separated me from everyone else.”
"Having run my own business, it really separated me from everyone else.”
During his tenure with HSBC, Jeff lived in Hong Kong for 18 months, Oman for 1 year, Dubai for 2 years, London for 4 years, Beirut for 3 years, and back to London for another year, before finishing off his HSBC career as CEO for the bank’s operation in the Russian Federation for 2 years. Yeah, we’d say that’s pretty international!
After HSBC, Jeff began working at Qatar National Bank, where he stayed for 2 years, finishing an 18-year career in the banking industry. Like many, during the financial crisis of 2008, Jeff lost his job. In some ways, this was a blessing in disguise. Jeff had always wanted to tap back into his entrepreneurial passions and begin his own company. He says because he was “so well taken care of” in his other positions, that it never felt like it was ever the right time to leave.
Well, the time was then. Jeff started NelsonPark Property, a real estate brokerage in Qatar that focuses mainly on residential properties. The team consists of about 25 people. And they are crushing it - last year, they were voted by the Arabian Property Award as the best brokerage in Qatar (see below). Check out NelsonPark’s Twitter and Facebook pages to learn more!
NelsonPark Property wins Arabian Property Award for 2017–2018
NelsonPark Property, Qatar-based real estate brokerage company, won a Arabian Property Award (2017-2018) in the Real Estate Agency category for Qatar. Jeffrey Asselstine, founder and Managing Director for NelsonPark Property received the award at a ceremony held in Dubai on September 7, 2017.
College Pro Memories
Jeff’s CP memories encapsulate his “highest highs and lowest lows.” Among those highs he remembers “the shared pride of generating the money yourself or collecting a cheque from a satisfied customer. Even the idea that people let you paint their homes, and were giving employment to people at such a young age.”
Jeff also fondly remembers his Regional Manager Paul Hayman and their Sunday night phone calls. Paul was a true mentor to Jeff, helping him with running his franchise and constantly pushing him to grow and develop. “I have massive, massive respect for Paul.”
College Pro Skills
“Integrity was always part of the ethos of the company and that’s something I have seriously carried forward with me ever since,” Jeff says. He tells the story of Burger King manager in Chatham-Kent who was well-known and respected in the local community. He loved employing students to do work, so he reached out to Jeff because he needed some high-end wood work done. “I couldn’t deliver the quality he needed and it was important for me to be honest. We could have taken the job and figured it out, but it wouldn’t have been great quality.” That moment of honesty impressed the manager, who then went on to give Jeff more business down the line.
More recently, in Qatar, there was an agent selling a palace. He asked Jeff if he’d be able to sell it and while Jeff could have lied and said he knew buyers, he didn’t want to be disingenuous: “That person referred me to someone else more than a month later.” He constantly tells his team at NelsonPark: “If you can’t do it, just say you can’t do it.” Integrity is always key.
He also emphasizes the tenacity he developed through College Pro: “Never giving up. Go back at it again and again.”
Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“You need to decide why you’re doing this. What’s the goal? The why? It really comes down to the why. For me, I wanted to grow myself and that was the core of it. Even today, running my own business, it’s about that. It’s never about the money. It’s about wanting to set up a great life for my family. It’s always about core values.”
About Jeff: Fun Facts
When we asked Jeff to share something fun about himself he said, “I’m not that interesting a person!” We very quickly found out that wasn’t true!
- Jeff is married to an Australian national and they have three Australian/Canadian daughters. His two oldest daughters are now in university in Canada and the third, in high school, lives at home.
- He’s lived in 7 countries.
- Jeff is a HUGE Prince fan - he even named his company after him. Prince’s last name is Nelson and his record label is called Paisley Park. Even the purple in the NelsonPark logo is a nod to the legend!
- Jeff’s seen Prince in concert 10 times, in different places all around the world.
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