John Newland was born in Boxford, Massachusetts, a small town just north of Boston. He met his wife Marielle, at Kenyon College in Ohio where he got a degree in Biology and minored in Art. After college, they moved to Boone, North Carolina where Marielle got her Master’s Degree. They moved to Athens in 2001 after getting married, and started JOMA Construction in 2005. Marielle teaches Spanish at Athens Academy. They live in Athens with their sons John Manuel and Beckett, dog Lucy and a cat named Cat.
What inspired or led to your current career?
Instead of going on a honeymoon, Marielle and I decided to take that money a put a down payment on a really small house in Normaltown. It was basically a fire sale price. We did a work on it while we were living there the first two years, then decided to sell it. We made a nice chunk of money and basically said, why don’t we do this? So, we found a house around the corner and thought maybe we could subdivide the lot and build another house. It worked out that we were able to do that and just kept repeating and refining the process. Now, we are on our ninth house that we either built or remodeled. Halfway through that doing work on our own homes, we decided to start doing jobs for other people. JOMA Construction was formed in January 2005, named after the first two letters of my name and my wife’s name.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens, and what do you love there?
Seabear Oyster Bar. Marielle and I like to go there, it is our date night place. We sit at the bar and share dishes. We like the lobster roll and the fried clam strips, and always start off with the oysters and a cocktail.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
We are talking about going to Hawaii this year. Doing kind of an entire West coast swing is on the books as well. We have done some states out there, but with our boys we haven’t done any other than California. We enjoy going on a lot of shorter, weekend trips as well. We just went to Charleston two weeks ago for my birthday–we both love good food! I would really like to go to different places in South America. That is a part of the world I haven’t been. And Marielle is ready to go to Italy, just the two of us.
What is your favorite movie, or what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
The first movie I remember seeing is Empire Strikes Back. But, I think the movie I remember the most seeing is The Right Stuff.
What advice do you most often give your kids?
Be a good person. Be nice to people. Realize that everyone is different. Try not to judge others.
If you could see any band or any show, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
Elvis Presley–young Elvis before he got big in some small place. Seeing Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson before they got big would be really cool.
What do you like to do in Athens when you are not working?
I would say just going and walking around downtown, walking to different places. Along with Seabear, we kind of like to restaurant hop and see different people. We always bump into people, especially with Marielle being a teacher and teaching here for eighteen years. We always see older people, younger people and parents of students.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
That I was a collegiate swimmer [a five-time DIII national champion – three relays and two individual events].
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Safety, love, and family.