Owner of the John Wentworth Group RE/MAX Platinum™, John is a successful realtor in Fenton with $90 million in sales last year. He began his real estate career on his own when the market had tanked, and has grown the business to include a team of five salaried staff and six agents. He lives in Fenton with his wife, Jennifer, and three children. John says that the key to his success is staying humble and focusing on people, not money. He shared more about his life with My City.
Q: What part of Genesee County are you from originally?
A: I was born in Flint, and we moved to Grand Blanc when I was five years old.
Q: Where did you attend high school and what activities were you involved in?
A: I graduated from Grand Blanc High School. I played goalie on the varsity hockey team for four years, and was captain for three of those years. I also played on the varsity soccer team as a senior.
Q: Did you go to college?
A: I did not attend college. I had opportunities to play college hockey, but fell in love with horse racing when I was a senior in high school after visiting Swartz Creek Raceway. I told myself: That’s what I want to do – train and drive race horses. So, upon graduation, I quit hockey and started working with a Standardbred trainer in Saginaw. I went on to be one of the top trainers in North America and won several leading driver awards. I ended up living in Quebec, just over the Ottawa River in the small city of Mason Angers. It was too far from home, so I quit racing and moved back. I loved my time with the horses and it was a tremendous education in both life and people.
Q: What career achievement are you most proud of?
A: When I reflect on my career, it’s actually quite humbling, and it’s important to me to remain humble in all that I do. “Proud” isn’t a word I love to use, but I am very pleased that we have built a business that is sustainable and truly offers a cutting-edge approach to buying or selling a home. Our team is strategy-driven in everything we do. I love the people, the relationships I’ve built through my career, and I love serving my clients. It’s awesome being able to provide them with an experience superior to the industry “norm.” The relationships I’ve made are life-long.
Q: On what career goal are you most focused right now?
A: I’m focused on quite a bit, both professionally and personally. Ultimately, I focus on being the best person I can be and the best husband, father, friend and Christian that I can be. My wife is my best friend and she truly is my support when it comes to being bold and taking chances in growing the business. She is the backbone of our home, and I love her more every day. She is a true giver and she has taught me that, as well. She makes me a better person.
Career wise, I’m focused on continuing to evolve as a realtor and as leader of our great team. People often ask, “Who’s your biggest competition?” It’s a funny question to me, actually. I don’t spend time worrying about other realtors as competition. I believe that I am my biggest competition. I just continue to educate and evolve myself and the business. If I do that, the rest will take care of itself. My main goal now is to continue to grow the business and solidify our group as the best real estate option in the area. We are also growing our team and bringing on new agents.
Q: How did growing up in this area shape who you are today?
A: What I really think shaped me most were my life experiences and always being a person who tries to learn from every situation, success or setback. I love setback. What a great learning moment if you’re open to seeing it and looking in the mirror. My mindset is: Yes I will achieve or do this, not, Is this possible or Can I do this? The Flint area has taught me to be very diverse in loving all people regardless of race or ethnic background. Genesee County is full of successful people and businesses, and one thing I see over and over is great people behind that success. So I try to emulate that. To me, it’s always about the people – not the money.
Q: Are there any special people who influenced you?
A: My grandparents played big roles in my life. My mother committed suicide when I was five. With my dad working full-time at GM Truck & Bus, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Both of my grandmothers were amazing to me and are both still alive, one 98 years old and one 96! Both of my grandfathers were very successful, hardworking men. Dr. Wentworth was the Chief of Staff at McLaren Hospital and the President of the Genesee County Medical Society in the 60s. My maternal grandfather, Art Strahle, sold pipe organs across the U.S. – some are still being played in churches right here in Flint and Genesee County. Now that’s cool! My dad taught me to be resilient. From sports to life, he said, “Make it happen with no excuses.” So, that’s what I learned to do. I also have two uncles, one on each side of the family, who have been hugely successful. My dad’s brother, Bill Wentworth, was a big influence on me. I watched him become a successful entrepreneur, owning several Applebee’s restaurants throughout Michigan. He also helped me get started in real estate and encouraged me along the way – even lending me money to pay bills at one point, so that I could focus on my career. My mother’s brother, Dr. Strahle, has built another amazing business in Regional Medical Imaging, so I’ve seen great success on all sides of my family, success that was earned and grown through hard work and dedication.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Well, I don’t play hockey anymore. My last stint was in the Red Wings-Flint Generals Alumni game in 2015. I passed on playing this year, as we were on a family vacation. I have filled that void with owning Thoroughbred race horses. I bought my first one in November 2014 and we now have more than one. Chocolate Ride won six of his nine starts, including four Graded Stakes races. This horse has brought me and my family some amazing memories, including racing last year in the Woodford Reserve, which is the Kentucky Derby post-race. Chocolate Ride is on track to be in that race again this year. Overall, I feel extremely blessed. My role is to give back and provide a great service to our clients and the people of the community. Family is very important to me. Spare time is spent swimming, boating, or going up north as a family, and attending the kids’ sporting events.
Q: What do you hope for the future of Flint and Genesee County?
A: I think it’s very important for people to understand how, as a community, we need Flint’s revitalization to succeed. Flint is still a major hub in Genesee County with a rich history and, I believe, a bright future.
Photo provided by Wentworth Family