Prominent West Midlands businessman Neil Pountney decided to call it a day at 71 – and was promptly swamped by clients asking him to help out in retirement.
So the construction sector troubleshooter changed his mind – and turned his retirement party at the Hippodrome into a reception for colleagues and friends, some with new projects on the anvil.
Mr Pountney’s postponed retirement will now see him picking and choosing future work – and he has vowed to spend more time with his family in future.
“I decided in October that it was time to slow down,” he said.
“I had been neglecting my family for years and my medics were saying ‘you are OK but you can’t go on at this pace.’
“I had been doing seven days a week until fairly recently. The industry is full-on and you are either involved or you are not.
“But I still feel I have got my faculties and can make a contribution. I will be a lot more choosy in the future, it’s whether the challenge is of interest to me.”
His decision turned his retirement party into a jazz band tribute to his 50-year plus business career and an opportunity to discuss potential new projects. Mr Pountney said he was keen to spend more time with his grandchildren, including talented 14-year-old Thomas, who plays with Solihull ensemble Jazz Matters, which performed at the Hippodrome party, and 13-year-old Lauren, who is studying classical ballet.
“After recently completing my latest large redevelopment, at Aston University, I had felt that the time was ready to call it a day, especially as it has taken eight years from initial conception to completion in the midst of a fully operational campus.
“However, once word got around that it was possible I planned to retire, I started to receive requests from potential clients who wanted me to assist them with their projects.
“So I had to modify my retirement party – and hold it as a reception for professional colleagues and friends.
“Instead of retiring completely, I will be continuing to work but only on a select number of projects with which I have an affinity and I will be making sure that in the future there’ll be more time spent with my family and grandchildren.”
Alan Charters, executive director of Capital Development at Aston University, said: “Neil Pountney has been a good friend to Aston University over a number of years and through a variety of complex projects, with his professional style and rumbustious nature he has driven these to completion, no more so than with Aston Student Village.”
Mr Pountney founded Solihull-based construction and regeneration consultancy Emprima in 1998 after a 37-year career at Wakemans, which saw him progress from being a trainee surveyor to managing director of the Edgbaston firm, spearheading its development as a major player with nationwide interests.
He has also occupied senior positions at the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce and Solihull Chamber of Commerce and sat on advisory panels to Birmingham Airport and former regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
Mr Pountney has also been involved with many prestigious redevelopment projects in Birmingham city centre, including the transformation of the former Lewis’s department store into the Temple Court office complex.