Updated: Mar 17
Conversation with Alfie Best, the self-made millionaire from a Romany Gypsy background.
If you have ever been on a caravan holiday, it is more than likely that you would've found yourself on a park run by Alfie Best as he is the owner of Wyldecrest Parks, the largest residential park operator in Europe with over 450 employees and 75 Residential and Holiday Parks located across Britain. On top of this, he also has investments in nightclubs, bars, golf clubs and many other ventures. The businessman has been so successful with his ventures, that he has deservedly racked up millions of pounds, so many millions in fact, that he was listed in the Sunday Times Rich List 2019.
However, things were not always plain sailing for Alfie as ‘If Only They Knew’ found out after speaking to the entrepreneur...
Alfie grew up in a similar way to many other Romany Gypsies, living in a caravan for much of his early life. In fact, Alfie was actually born in a caravan, by the road side somewhere in Leicester, to be precise, as his family had driven up from East London the night before.
After many cases of bullying from both sides of the fence (bullied for being a traveller by his classmates whilst also being bullied by fellow travellers for being in a uniform), a young Alfie Best was faced with issues of the real world very quickly.
At age 10, Alfie began his entrepreneurial journey, knocking door-to-door offering to tarmac driveways, left school at 12, was buying and selling cars at 14 and founded a van rental company at 17! This is how his days of making money began.
"I thought I really could walk on water”
Suddenly, things took a deep, dark turn.
The recession in the early 1990's meant that Alfie was losing money fast. The pressures of the divorce process, mortgage repayments and more, meant that the entrepreneur had no option but to sell the majority of his goods - from his prized Porsche and all of his vans. For 3 months, he was living in his Ford Escort van and struggled heavily with money.
Despite the struggle, Alfie's eye for opportunities definitely wasn't blinded as he spotted that the mobile phone industry was still doing well during the recession as he witnessed the heavy footfall in a phone shop he was sat outside. So, in order to get back on his feet, he got a job as a phone salesman while sleeping rough in order to get back on his feet. Of course, in true Alfie Best fashion, he quickly became one of the best salesmen there, racking up enough commission to buy his own shop called Volatec.
Alfie also saw the opportunity to use his knowledge of caravans effectively, so he bought a mobile home park with 120 homes - worth £1.7m!
All of this is what has led Alfie to become the success he is today,
“I looked up to my dad as he was, and still is, a workaholic and even today, at 72, works 7 days a week - which I believe, is where I get my work ethic from“
Despite him being a successful entrepreneur, Alfie doesn’t see himself in that way as such, feeling that he needs to do a bit more to prove that he can spread his wings and still be successful at the ”end of the term” as many people who call themselves entrepreneurs only succeed with just 1 venture.
Best likens being successful in the business world to being successful in Boxing, a sport that he has had much experience in - being an official Amateur Boxing coach himself at one point.
“If you want your hand held high, you’ve got to give more. You’ve got to fight more. You’ve got to push more. You’ve got to be smarter.”
We asked Alfie to look back on his outstanding journey to see if there was 1 thing he wish he knew at an earlier stage, to which he said: ”I wish I knew and understood how to Finance property much better than I did”.
But either way, whether he knew how to finance or not, Alfie Best has gone on to achieve great things and now, his son, Alfie Best Jr, seems to be following in his father’s successful foot steps - appearing on multiple TV shows such as ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune’ and ‘Absolutely Ascot’.
We at ’If Only They Knew’ wish both senior and junior the best of luck in their journey.
To read more stories of young entrepreneurs & business minds, take a further look at ‘If Only They Knew’:
To keep up with Alfie’s journey: