In the not such a long time that I have lived in Marbella, I have come to know a rather quiet and seemingly shy business person whom I think should be admired for her tenacity and will to work.
It was a pleasure to talk to this beautiful, young, dynamic woman, sitting behind her desk in her prestigious office, at the 'Tembo' Business Centre. Together with her husband Jon Arregui, she is now the main driving force behind "Tembo", the well known property development company, located near to el Corte Inglés, in Puerto Banús. Indeed, I think it may be correct to say that she is the major contributor to making "Tembo" what it is today - a success story.
Born in England to Spanish parents escaping from a land afflicted by economical problems at that time, Alison Gomez lived and was educated in Oxfordshire up to the age of nine, and then her parents decided to return to their homeland, where she continued with her education.
Meanwhile, in 1993, Don Juan Arregui, the founder of "Tembo" also had moved to Marbella from his native Vitoria, in the Pais Vasco in Northern Spain. At the time it was just a small company.
Eventually, in 1994, she found a employment at "Tembo", at their original address, in Aloha Gardens, and her job was to attend to clients looking to rent a home. In those days there was not much of a demand for property purchases.
There is no hard work without reward and the business started to get better, even the sale of properties started to make a major contribution to the business turnover and that is when, in 1995/96, "Tembo" embarked on to its first property development.
Meanwhile, Alison was practically running the business as well as the rest of the staff, aided by a girl called Ana.
The company bought a 'casco' and completed the building of 55 apartments in Andalucia Alta, at the same time it also started building the "Tembo Business Centre".
From thereon things just kept getting better and better, more buildings followed in San Pedro and then in various other locations.
After the tragic death of his son, Don Juan Arregui, practically adopted his four grand children and looked to make a future for them with the result that today one is a journalist in San Francisco, another is a lawyer in South Africa and a third runs an important factory in Northern Spain. The eldest grand son, also named Juan (Jon), travelled to and from Vitoria, while helping and learning about the property business from his grandfather.
Granddad was an authoritative, powerful man, who loved South Africa, where he travelled to very regularly and, apparently, he respected the elephant. He thought that the elephant was a very noble and powerful animal that reigned over other species, hence the company name "Tembo", which means elephant in Swahili.
Jon kept flying to and from Vitoria and in pril 1998 his marriage ended in divorce.
By the end of 1998, the new 'Tembo' building was completed and Alison moved there with Ana and her new staff, then the inevitable happened and in September 1999 a romance flourished between Jon and Alison, who started to go out together and then live together by the end of that year.
If there is one thing that Alison regrets, it is that Granddad Don Juan, who worked every day of his life, finally passed away in April 2000 at the age of 92, before the marriage between Jon and Alison, in September and before the birth of their son, Juan José in September 2001. He never had the opportunity to know of the marriage and see his great grand child, also named after him.
One thing is certain, Grandfather Don Juan is still very much alive in the heart of his closest family and he can still be proud of Jon and Alison, who ¨continue to make a success of 'Tembo' with a staff of 15.
Alison could not wait to tell me about the different projects, past and future. She explained about the "Doña María" development and the more recent "Lorea Playa" phase one and two, between San Pedro and Puerto Banus. Both these projects have been named after Juan's two daughters, from his previous marriage.
But the latest, "La Reserva de Don Juan", is dedicated to the memory of Granddad, the man that made it all possible.
Allison Gomez, you will always find her behind her desk at the 'Tempo' Business Centre, eager to help her clients to find their most suited investment. The elephant, was created to mean quality, to mean the best and there is no one better to explain it other than 'Tembo' herself, Alison Gomez.