Ian Cockburn’s Biography

Biography of Ian Cockburn

Ian Cockburn is a licensed Real Estate Broker, Commercial Contractor and Project Management Certified(PMP)

Where Real Estate Marketing meets Architecture & Construction Management – Hands on.

Born in London, England to West Indian parents, Ian Cockburn spent the first six and a half years of his life in Bexley Heath, Kent.  His world was one of being from somewhere else yet England was the only world he knew.  From as long as he could remember, he longed to be somewhere else… to be in America where dreams were lived, the land of cowboys and Indians, the land of skyscrapers and huge cities…where his fantasies built of Lego bricks went beyond just sticking blocks together.  Those little plastic pieces coming together became a passion.

The house Ian grew up in was a large traditional British home with a large backyard.  There was plum and apple trees in the back adjacent to an ancient chicken coop…where friends played.  His father had brought back from the British beach those large pebbles that hurt under ones bare feet…hurt just enough that it felt good…a feeling that would come back later.

When his parents decided to leave England and return to their country of birth Ian had to feel the pain of leaving close friends and venturing to a new country in a new part of the world. For the next ten years he would be living on a Caribbean island continually building on the basis of what and  how he perceived life, culture and how he would be a part of the greater good.

Life in Trinidad was different…the spicy food, hot days and mosquitos defined those early days.  As the years progressed the cultural differences became meshed with how he perceived and was perceived growing up in a private compound built for foreigners, private schools using American and British books and friends from Scotland, England and other parts of Europe…mostly away from the locals.

Nationalization of foreign owned businesses in Trinidad changed the face of his world.  As he entered Catholic high school, Texaco was leaving, the sugar cane company his Dad worked for was changing, oil and natural gas was booming, steel and manufacturing were replacing agriculture.

From the early years Ian took on a love of painting and drawing…using his Father’s paints and brushes and taking inspiration from his Mother’s Montessori teaching.  His Father was an accountant.  His close relationship with his father as his first mentor included poring over Dad’s copies of the British Financial Times and the American Wall Street Journal and a fascination with building transforming the 2 acre yard into a golf course, highways, and towns.

Throughout high school Ian was known as an excellent artist and by the time he left high school with ten O’levels he was determined to go to the United States and be the next Frank Lloyd Wright.

Through the determination of his mother, he was able to come to the United States, through friends of his mother’s close friend, (one of the Rockafella’s) and began his American journey in Albany New York.  Ian spent two years upstate New York attending first a community college then Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

The experience at Rensselaer changed his life forever.  Here the experience was no longer simply looking at books about faraway dreams…it was about being the future, creating what was to be while understanding the past to clearly define what architecture would be…creating a sense of place and space. Becoming an architect at RPI meant understanding future technologies and being the first to try…IBM used Ian and his fellow students to try out this newest computer called a PC and start learning Basic programming.  Then teachers made students use the computers to communicate between each other and use what is now referred to as email.

The greatest life altering experience came from one RPI professor.  A world renowned architect he taught way more than design…he taught how to respect the past, respect yourself and be true to yourself always. Never falter from what you believe in…if you have no personal belief system you have nothing.  If you do not believe in what you are doing you cannot convince others to believe in you.  Beyond one self, you have to be part of a greater good….and whether in design or life you need to live it.

After two semesters at RPI, Ian’s parents ability to financially help dried up and so for the next year Ian returned to the Caribbean, spending time between Trinidad and Barbados working in jobs as architects assistant building the first high rise in Trinidad to being a newspaper reporter and photographer.  Ian became obsessed with saving the rapidly disappearing historical architecture in the Caribbean.  From writer and illustrator to demonstrator, Ian drove a grass roots effort to preserve the past. His obsession continued until he got accepted and transferred to Louisiana State University in the Spring of 1986.

Architecture at LSU was disappointing.  For Ian it was a drastic change from RPI…and summed up in Ian’s mind he concluded that “these idiots can only think in terms of sticks and stones, ignoring building tools and techniques of the past.  The professors and students were convinced building on slabs below sea level and using wood subject to termites and hurricanes was “the way we do it in America.”  Ian concluded “one day a hurricane will come and blow down your stack of cards and flood what remains!” As was the norm in those days of David Duke and the Klu Klux Kan, Ian got the deer in the headlights response from both professors and fellow students.

Ian changed from architecture to the Construction Management program…his money from Trinidad stopped after one semester at LSU and he concluded he simply needed to get a degree as fast as possible and gain the technical engineering  skillsets to enable him to build communities based on time tested means and methods of the past. Ian worked for a renowned architect, John Desmond and held jobs from waiting tables to construction worker and landscaper.  He survived almost being deported (for working 6 jobs after his visa expired) and leveraged credit cards and every means possible to graduate in 1990.

Once out of College he accepted an offer working for a general commercial contractor in Kentucky.  Over the period of a year Ian worked as estimator, project manager, project engineer and even sheetrock finisher on projects throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.  Strong Midwestern values stressed a thorough understanding of what you are as a builder.  It meant understanding the materials, where they came from and what and how you are going to do with them.  It meant being true to oneself, removing fluff from the conversation and completing what you say you will do the right way the first time.

The last project with Ian’s first job out of college was to work with a Spanish owner who was building a steel plant at the edge of the Ohio River.  The company had built similar plants around the world.  Ian was estimator and project manager, translating metric drawings and working with German and Japanese engineers and architects building this $250 million mini-steel plant.

For the first time since graduating from college, Ian was challenged by an issue, an otherwise standard request as an engineer…figure out how much waste he could dump in a valley adjacent to the Ohio river.  The request became something that haunted Ian’s mind for a long time.  Ian remembers that day,  doing the estimate, then going for his daily run along that river later that day…his mind unsettled.  The calculation was done and handed to the client, but came with a long explanation that the resulting tailings or waste may be hazardous to the environment, and maybe other alternatives should be found.  Within two weeks, the decision to be permanently hired by the Spanish client turned into a pink slip.

Over the next year, Ian moved to Florida, got married to a Kentucky girl he pictured in his mind when he was fifteen.  They started a business, grew clients, but insurance changes and insufficient seed money made Ian consider moving back to Louisiana where college friends he could easily get steady work.  The taste of making money on his own remained.

Moving to Louisiana Ian worked as an estimator for one of the largest dredging contractors in the world at the time, T.L.James.  The work was intense and steady and opened up a new way of looking at money and how a few people can impact how one lives moving dirt and sand around.  For five years Ian became an integral part of the management building beaches and islands, dredging lakes and building levees coast to coast.

An opportunity at Monsanto moved Ian moved into the industrial sector…working first for Monsanto and promoted to a position in Texas in the petro chemical world.  The work as project engineer gave Ian the best all-around experience with large scale mechanical and electrical systems to working on multiple projects under extreme pressure to get done fast and efficiently.  Ian was given the ability to refine existing means and methods to accomplish and track tasks at hand faster and more efficiently than before, incorporating new scheduling programs and teach superintendents in the field how to better use their knowledge to communicate and dissipate what and how work should be done.

Unfortunately the long hours and exposure of extreme toxic chemicals took a toll, for it took several years before he could breathe normally in a shower.  The impact of long hours working around scrubbers and “deep wells” that pumped chemicals into the ground created permanent damage to a sense of smell.  He began to see the direct effects of long term exposure in the Monsanto plant where it was the norm for fellow workers to die of cancer and wives to have miscarriages.

After working in the industrial environment for more than five years, Ian was hired by Johnson Controls in a design / build capacity.  Here he was able to take all his skills from the past…from landscaping to engineering, architecture to scheduling and budgeting and bring it all together.  As a project manager for Johnson Controls he was responsible for executing large scale infrastructure projects in Louisiana and Mississippi.  These included building Central Plants, complete infrastructure for a University and projects for the City of New Orleans. In Natchez he worked with the City government on a variety of Energy saving and historic restoration projects.  His work with Johnson Controls continued as he went on to work as Controls Project Manager for the Smithsonian Institution, primarily on the Museum of the American Indian.

His options were to leave Louisiana for Washington or stay in New Orleans.  Ian had been working on some real estate investments while at Johnson Controls and decided it was time to go out on his own full time.  He chose to return to New Orleans and one week upon returning he purchased a gas station close to his home and an RV park in Mississippi.

Within one year, Ian turned the dying gas station business in a thriving enterprise then sold it. The RV Park was originally purchased with the intent of making it into a subdivision with prefabricated houses in the style of traditional homes.  All the infrastructure was there, but then Hurricane Katrina happened.

When Ian purchased the RV Park, he primarily chose this particular property because it was located next to a cemetery…generally the highest point in a southern town…avoiding the flooding and gulf water surge that later devasted most of the town of Long Beach.

With his New Orleans home flooded and subsequently looted twice, one week after Katrina Ian returned to New Orleans started the cleanup of his Mississippi RV Park, refusing to allow FEMA entry to take it over.  Instead he dug into his savings to rebuild as fast as possible, designing and physically digging trenches, installing sewer, water and electrical lines as fast as possible. 30 trees removed later, he was back in business.  In the Fall of 2008, the week of the international financial crisis, Ian sold the RV park.

While running the RV Park, Ian was rebuilding his home, those of his neighbors and selling real estate in areas around New Orleans that did not flood. Over the next few years, Ian attained his commercial Contractor license, expanded his real estate business purchasing, renovating and leasing multifamily, commercial and a warehouse properties, while showing clients how to do the same.

As the real estate market changed, so did Ian.  Becoming a Broker enabled Ian to focus on client needs, continuing the process of getting clients the best value for their time and money, going beyond the norm to achieve their goals.

Ian’s view of life and his contribution to his fellow people continues to evolve, developing lifelong relationships of trust.

With the basis of energy conservation, preserving assets and maximizing resources,  Ian draws on proven knowledge and skills to provide a holistic approach to accomplishing goals .  His belief system remains the same as always…reinvent oneself, never accept the norm, and being uncomfortable is not always a bad thing…in life one walks on pebbles, tread carefully and always keep focused on the goal. This is a philosophy he holds to, whether negotiating a real estate contract or serving on the Board of Realtors.


Ian Cockburn’s business acumen stems from a strength that comes from decades-long relationships with licensed professionals.


Below is a summary of the Ian Cockburn’s professional expertise:

John Anthony Realty’s sponsoring Broker is Ian Cockburn, a seasoned Realtor, certified Historic Preservation Specialist, Accredited Buyer Representative and Seller Representative Specialist. He is a Board Member of CID (Commercial Investment Division) of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors.

Ian Cockburn has extensive experience as a project manager professional (PMP certified) on large scale infrastructure projects coast to coast.  As a Realtor and Developer he has created business solutions to help clients avoid risks, save money and maximize their investments.

John Anthony Realty is a New Orleans based company centrally located at 938 Lafayette St, Suite 512, New Orleans LA 70113.

John Anthony Realty works in conjunction with Coburn Investments LLC, (a licensed Commercial Construction Company, LIC # 45847), Red Sauce Properties LLC and Hotel Furniture Liquidators’.  We also work closely with licensed Electricians, Master Plumbers & Carpenters.

John Anthony Realty works directly with several other New Orleans Real estate Brokers on the West Bank and North Shore areas of Metropolitan New Orleans to insure clients’ properties get adequately serviced.

John Anthony Realty provides four distinct services:

  1. Sales & Marketing – for Commercial, Multifamily and Residential Properties.
  2. Service – Property & Portfolio Management.
  3. Real Estate Service & Construction Management – Asset Management of Distressed Properties, Broker Price Opinion’s,  Risk Management & Energy Conservation Management.
  4. Relocation & Buyer Assistance and Location Scout Services.

Our company uses a systematic approach to helping clients reduce costs and maximize profits as quickly as possible.  John Anthony provides reporting, professional video & photographs and other means and methods of communication to enable clients to get their best return on investment.