It took two years on a scenic route through twenty-two different countries, but Jack Nooren’s dream came true the day he looked out the window of a cargo ship he was working on and saw the coveted Statue of Liberty. As tears filled his eyes, little did he know that the adventure that brought him to this point was just beginning.
Born in the Sappemeer, Netherlands in 1969, Jack graduated high school then set his sights on seeing the world. After a phone interview with a counselor at Camp Janet (a camp for adults with mental disabilities) in New York, Jack was offered the job and had just one delay – getting from the Netherlands to the United States. His journey started in Israel, where he worked on a dairy farm for six months; he then joined a group of travelers and eventually found himself in Buenos Aires, South America with no money. That phone call home to his father wasn’t easy, but of course his father offered to send him some money - on the one condition that he would return to Holland, work in his father’s bike shop and eventually take it over. Family is Jack’s number one priority, but at that point in his life, he knew he had more exploring to do. Shortly after making this decision, Jack found a job on a German cargo ship headed to Norfolk, Virginia, where his services were paid with his room and board on the ship. Jack’s life changed forever just 21 days later as he looked out the window in his room and saw the essence of the American dream – the Statue of Liberty. His tears of joy and gratefulness will never be forgotten – at last, he had reached his destination. Or, so he thought.
Jack worked at Camp Janet for the summer and then saw a listing for another camp opportunity in Monticello, Iowa. After a brief phone interview, they hired him and sent him a one-way bus ticket to Iowa. Working at Camp Courageous during the summer of 1989, Jack’s life was again changed forever as he met his future wife, Jill, and married her in February 1990. After a one-year relocation to Chicago, they returned to Iowa so Jill could attend the University of Northern Iowa. Jack spent 1½ years waiting tables at Sunnyside Country Club before meeting Chuck Granger who encouraged him to take up the real estate business. Though initially nervous about the idea, Jack enjoyed sales when he worked in his father’s bike shop, so he thought it would be worth a try….Fast forward to 2005 – since opening Nooren Realtors eight years ago with Dick Kimball as his first associate broker, annual sales have increased to $70 million with 12 agents and 4 staff. Together with his residential and commercial real estate business, Jack is also involved in several investment and development dealings throughout the Cedar Valley. His willingness to take risks, think outside the box and realize that anything is possible has given Jack tremendous success.
Remarkably, Jack’s passion doesn’t stop with his business endeavors. He makes a conscience effort to keep weekends open so he can spend time with Jill and their two children, Alex, 6, and Emma, 3. He also takes great pride in the Cedar Valley and gives of his time and resources to many area organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, Pathways and the YWCA, among others.
So what would Jack say to kids today about their future? “If you lack passion you will lack success. Don’t be afraid to take risks. And, don’t always follow your CPA’s advice!”