It is always tough to decide what people actually mean. We all use the same words but some, when meshed together. turn into different concepts to different people. Then there is context—and hidden, sometimes unknown, signs. Smiles can be painted, words of praise can be untruthful, patting on backs can be lethal. I always approach people to be interviewed with all these unknowns and difficulties.
I made my way to my meeting with Paul Attard and George Muscat of GAP with some apprehension. They are after all behind one of Malta’s iconic developments. I wanted to find out all about them and what they feel about Kevin Buttigieg, the RE/MAX supremo, and all the RE/MAX team.
I was impressed —even though I have heard many stories and tales about Kevin, what the two GAP directors told me was different. They said great things —how good he is at his job and what a great achievement he made of their Fort Cambridge development. But my biggest eye-opener was that, try as I might, I could not for a minute find anything which sounded—or seemed—deceitful in what they had to say.
And what they stressed above all else is that our man from RE/MAX might have a swagger that makes him unpopular with some, but that, in the words of Paul and George, he has a true heart of gold.
Stories about estate agents probably beat those about lawyers and even politicians. Even street-walkers are sometimes considered more morally upright. But to listen to a leader in the construction world say that Kevin is honest and often helped the developers sell properties even without commission, is hard to beat.
GAP is mostly known for Fort Cambridge, as this building has further put Sliema on the desirable list of many discerning locals and foreigners. As a development it ranks, together with some other leading developments, as extremely rentable and offers an excellent return on investment.
GAP, through its directors George and Paul and George’s son, Adrian, has truly developed a special building. They used the best finishes and made more efficient use of materials.
All walls are excellently insulated and this means that people living at Fort Cambridge use less energy and live a more comfortable life. This naturally translated into an added expense for the developers, who are renowned for their quality accommodation. They believe their long-term reputation is more important than a quick return. This belief was a key factor which convinced the Azzopardi family, spearheaded by Charlie, to team up with the original owners in the Fort Cambridge Development.
Fascinated by the whole project and impressed by its high standards, the Azzopardis felt it reflected their own beliefs in quality and long-term investment.
When Fort Cambridge was first put on the market, GAP was so inundated with requests that the staff could not cope with all the show-rounds. “This was Kevin’s finest hour,” Paul tells me with a smile. “He and his team were selling quite a number of apartments. He was super-busy and spending many hours at the development. It amazed me that, if we had no one available to do the show-rounds, he would do it himself, knowing full well that there was no monetary gain.”
George Muscat, Paul’s father-in-law, butts in. He is more direct, less given to platitudes and more likely to call a spade by nothing but its proper name. So I now sat up—fearing that all the good things I had just been told about Kevin were to be destroyed in one fell stroke by the GAP chairman. Instead he added on the praise. He said he knows that Kevin is one of the top salesmen in Malta but that he believes that is not his best attribute.
According to George, Kevin excels in his serious conduct in his dealings, his dependability and in the fact that he cares about people before work. George adds: “Kevin and RE/MAX have always been our strong associates. I’ve been in the building and development business for several—too many!—years. Sometimes I feel I’ve had enough of it, but with people like Kevin around I get my passion back. Nothing but nothing ever pulls them down. If there is a problem, they smile, solve it and turn it into an advantage for the future.”
GAP has many other ongoing projects and all are of a high standard but Fort Cambridge truly ranks as the jewel in its crown, a dream that started in 2006. And Kevin Buttigieg of RE/MAX was one who made this dream for George, Paul, Adrian and many of the ones residing there a shining, living reality.