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Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Spotlight | Spotlight - Isam “Jamal” Khoury, GE Greenway Environmental LLC

Spotlight - Isam “Jamal” Khoury, GE Greenway Environmental LLC

image Isam “Jamal” Khoury (top right) wants to make the world a better place for his wife Vanda (top left), children (bottom) and his customers.

DALLAS/FT WORTH - As a young boy, Isam “Jamal” Khoury came to the United States full of his grandfather and father’s knowledge about how to improve the environments in which they lived, worked, traveled and shopped. It’s no surprise then that Khoury was inspired to forge two careers from it – one in environmental services and the other in real estate and development. He hopes to inspire his children by example to improve the world in their own ways.




Share with me a bit about your background.
    I was born in Jerusalem, Israel. My father was always involved buying real estate, worked in civil engineering and real estate development. My grandfather worked as a city planner, so he was always traveling and building new roads to Israel. Growing up, seeing them travel and talk about real estate and development instilled in me an interest in going into real estate and becoming a developer and an environmental consultant.
    I left Jerusalem in 1978 when I was 10 or 11 years old to come to the States; we moved to California. We stayed there for a year; my father bought a restaurant and ran it for a little while and then sold it.
    My father has always been a kind of pioneer who is always looking for great opportunities. He’d buy houses and fix them up and sell them or refurbish an old shopping center or multi-family buildings and sell them. He also worked as a project manager for a big construction company directly involved in the new construction of large office buildings, from start to finish. My father would take me with him during summers to work. I was so inspired to see how empty land could be transformed into such beautiful architectural designs.

How did you end up in Texas?
    We ended up moving to Ohio for two years, and then we moved to Dallas.
I went to the University of Texas at Dallas, graduated with a degree in economics and finance but couldn’t get a job. I ended up going to law school; when I came back after I finished I started working with an attorney for a short time. That’s when I realized that real estate is my passion.
    My father had started a REMAX office so I went to work for him and tried to develop that business. We developed a brokerage firm for a while and then from there we expanded it. I started buying and selling for myself and I started making more money.
    I then got involved in the commercial aspect of real estate and involved in bigger projects and started developing shopping centers.

    How did you add the environmental consulting to your career?

    Real estate has always been a key component of my life. The environmental aspect is an important addition to real estate that works hand in hand with it, which I started doing in 2007. To be honest, sometimes opportunities present themselves in situations where difficult decisions have to be made. Those adverse moments turn out to be the best decision you ever made. The real estate market was on the downturn along with all of the financial markets. I had to figure out a different strategy and to stay within real estate, because that is what I have always known and have built my career.
    Being a real estate developer environmental concerns are always a consideration when purchasing and developing property.  So I decided to get more involved from the technical side of environment. It wasn’t easy; there are many classes, state exams along with on hand site training. I went to work for an environmental consulting company for a year. My core objective was to learn, learn and learn.  After I felt I was ready to grow on my own, I started my own business, GE Greenway Environmental.

How does your business benefit the construction industry?
    The company is an environmental management service firm created to provide the highest level of air quality and to take care of our environment. It offers innovative and technology-advanced solutions and alternatives to environmental concerns.
    One thing we do is test products before installation to make sure that asbestos-containing material is not present. In the United States, building manufacturers are not allowed to have asbestos-containing materials in their products.  However, other countries, like China and Canada, are allowed to do so. Although there are regulations and laws preventing any manufacturing of it domestically, unfortunately these laws do not pertain to any foreign manufacturer. They are free to use any material they deem necessary to create their products. Builders install these products and later find out they have asbestos; eventually it has to be removed and abated and the costs are exorbitant. Our company will test samples of these materials before they are installed. It’s an extra cost but it saves them a lot of money and time in the future.
    Our company has many wonderful clientele. We take care of all of the environmental needs for Texas A&M dental school and do a lot of work for property management companies for different malls.

What is your philosophy about business?
    For me, it is about taking care of the customer and to always do the right thing. I believe in karma. It’s not about the money for me; the money is a benefit of what I do.
    I believe in life opportunities are always available but you need to have the proper skills and training in order to understand that. There are a lot of bumps in the road, so it’s important to focus and be persistent about your long-term goals so they can be achieved.

What lessons have you learned from being in business?
    I’ve learned to be persistent and to focus on what I’m doing and to never give up. It’s so easy to just let things go sometimes and that’s when you really need to push forward. There are always problems and issues that come up and some are bigger than others, but you just have to work through them instead of just giving up on them.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the construction industry or anyone who has dreams of being a business owner?

     Get as much training in the business as you can so that you have the tools to be able to see more opportunities that are available.  You always have to be training, learning and just stepping out and seeing what’s happening around you.
    Again, I also really believe in karma! Don’t try to do short cuts. Just do it the way that you’re supposed to do it and make sure the customer is happy with what you’re doing. It makes you feel better; if you’re doing the right thing, you’ll have no conscience about it.

Do you enjoy your work?
    Yes. For me, what I do is not really work. I like to assist companies and enhance a situation or make sure they don’t get into a liability situation. At the same time, it makes me feel good to do the right thing, to be helping others.

Between the real estate and environmental businesses, you must be busy.
    I am! For example, right now I’m building a 15,000sf shopping center in McKinney and developing it myself. With the environmental business, I do it by appointment and go take care of things. I have to wear a couple of hats depending on the situation.

Do you have any free time for fun?
    I love vacations; I love to travel! I think it is very important to travel. It actually rejuvenates you and helps you refocus on what you’re doing, and at the same time you’re having fun. Once you’re away from the hustle and bustle, you get ideas and things come up in your mind when you’re just traveling. When you’re just doing nothing, the best ideas come up sometimes. I feel inspired to come back to work
    I love to go to New York; New York City is one of my favorite cities to go to – I guess my personality kicks in! I’ve been pretty much everywhere: Florida, California, Italy, Germany, and France. I travel a lot.

Do you collect anything when you travel?

    I love bringing back sculptures and paintings. When I didn’t have any money when I was younger and traveling, I would bring back matchbooks from restaurants and places I visited in different countries. I used to have thousands of matchbooks but now only have a few, as some got lost over the years. They have sentimental value.

Tell me about your family.
    I have been married to my wife, Vanda, for 16 years. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful kids – my son Anthony and my daughter Maya.
    My son, who is 14, loves wake-boarding. A friend of mine owns a wake park and my son goes to practice. He loves to play soccer, but wakeboarding is the number one thing he loves to do.
    My daughter, who is 11, loves animals; she loves parrots, she loves dogs. I think she’ll be a veterinarian one day. She always wants me to buy her animals, and I have to tell her that I don’t want a zoo in my house! She also likes sports; she plays soccer and she’s very fast.
    I am so blessed to have such a wonderful and healthy family.

Do any of them help you out in your businesses?
    My son does. If I need a report revised, he will go in there and do it. I’ll check it and make sure it’s spelled right, but he’s very smart like that. I actually pay him to help me, so it’s a good way for him to learn. My daughter is still pretty young [to help in the environmental business, but she’s a good writer too.

What do you hope the future holds for your business?
    I hope it continues to grow and to develop into a prosperous business that I can give to my children. I think first and foremost family is and should always be number one. You have to take care of your family and support them as much as you can. You must always be there for them, especially your kids because they rely on you. You have to give them the best of your time for them to be able to learn and to grow from your teaching and ultimately, that’s what they will do with their family.

Who inspires you?

    My father’s been very smart in real estate and he’s helped me a lot. My mother, God rest her soul, she was always the persistent part of it.  She’d never give up, even when she was fighting for her life. She wanted to live, and she was always positive, no matter what. It was sad when she passed away four years ago, but she was so positive and so strong. Both of my parents have been such a positive inspiration.
    My father, thank God, is still with us. He’s almost 80 years old, and he’s strong and he’s healthy. We’re both involved in the real estate.  As for the environmental business, he comes with me sometimes to meetings, but he doesn’t really get involved, he just kind of hangs out.

That’s sort of like when you were a kid hanging out with him while he worked, except the roles have been reversed!
    Exactly! That is true!  Circle of life!
    GE Greenway Environmental is a pro-fessional environmental service specializing in asbestos inspection, environmental site assessment, waste management, liquid and solid disposal and energy efficiency services. –mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net