No. 8: Edward St. John
CEO, ST. JOHN PROPERTIES
Edward St. John founded his real estate firm, St. John Properties, 50 years ago this year.
St. John started out small and local, working on warehouse spaces. Then he began adding value with office and flex-space and residential buildings. Today, the privately owned firm is one of the largest in the mid-Atlantic region, serving more than 2,500 clients across eight states, including Maryland, Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Its real estate investments are worth more than $3.5 billion.
The firm’s portfolio has ballooned to more than 21 million square feet of real estate footage, and it expects to continue growing. St. John Properties’ headcount has also grown, and now includes more than 200.
How does St. John account for the growth?
“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and have zero tolerance for incompetency,” he said.
St. John earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1961, and followed his love of learning into advanced studies in management and business law.
In 1988, he created a charitable committee within the company to focus on educational enrichment for children and other causes. The committee has pledged and donated more than $65 million through contributions or gifts-in-kind to more than 350 educational and other nonprofit organizations throughout the Baltimore/Washington region. St. John gave $10 million to the University of Maryland to help build the St. John Teaching and Learning Center.
In 2007, St. John turned over philanthropical decisions to the Edward St. John Foundation he established.
St. John made headlines in 2019 when he handed out $10 million in employee holiday bonuses after the company met a long-standing goal of developing 20 million square feet of space. The bonuses, an average of $50,000 per employee, were based on how long each employee had been with the firm.