In this exclusive Q&A, we chat to Luke Berry from Sydney-based property developer Thirdi Property Group, the 2013 My Business Award winner in the Best Small Business category, sponsored by GIO. Pictured on the right in the photo below is Ron Dadd, Director of Finance and Operations at Thirdi Property Group, who attended the Awards night in Berry's absence.
My Business: Why did you start your own business?
Luke Berry: My biggest motivation was the desire to create something I could be proud of and be in control of my own destiny. I was doing a decent enough job at growing other peoples businesses as an employee and thought, ‘if I can do it for them, I could do it for myself’. I was a bit naive – 24 years old, full of confidence, convinced I was going to dominate the business world. I really had no idea how hard it was going to be, and this ignorance allowed me to start my own business journey. In terms of Thirdi Group, we saw an opportunity to combine traditional property development and investment principles with an online strategy. The internet was this new and exciting marketing medium for property developers that eliminated the typical geographical boundaries usually faced and we saw the opportunities it would create.
MB: How has your business evolved since its inception?
LB: Our business is constantly evolving and I hope that’s something that never changes. I have two amazing business partners and we have built a young and really strong team to support growth. If we can keep the same approach towards ‘investing in innovation’, employing the best people possible and continue to learn from our mistakes, we’ll build a strong business that will perform well in the future.
MB: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
LB: Our industry (Property Development & Investment) is a complicated one, with lots of challenges. When we started our age was a big challenge as we were quite young to be doing what we are doing – borrowing millions of dollars or managing experienced builders that knew we ourselves had little experience. This has lessened somewhat but even today eight years since we delivered our first successful development, some financiers still look at our age as a negative and some builders still try and be tricky. It gets a bit frustrating, however the negative experiences have helped condition us as a business, work hard on our systems and processes and it has made us stronger than ever.
MB: What’s the best business decision you’ve ever made?
LB: Creating our own distribution (sales) network has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. Regardless what business you are in, having an active distribution channel is key and we have worked extremely hard at developing ours. As a property development company it changes the ball game completely. The power our distribution channel gives us is we know 100 per cent before we secure a development site that we will be able to build and sell it. This has allowed us to go on the acquisition trail and secure some fantastic sites that have outperformed our joint venture partners’ expectations.
MB: What does it mean for you to be recognised as a My Business Award winner in 2013?
LB: It’s a great feeling to be recognised by such a reputable publication. The biggest thing it does for you as a company is it lets you know that you are on the right track and reinforces the reasons why you take the risks to start and manage a business.
MB: Share with us some of your bigger successes.
LB: We’ve managed to take our business to the next level. We now have close to $60 million in development projects (apartments and townhouses) and the same again in our house and land business, so we have really grown in that area. Also, getting our NextHotSpot.com.au (NHS) brand recognised as an industry leader this year has been a major success. Our project management platform (ThirdiPM) has also helped us pass a business target of having 150+ houses under construction at once, which was a great effort from all our team. We have also launched two new distribution channels (duplexinvestments.com.au and smsfhouseandland.com.au) that have added significant volume to our investor communities.
MB: Do you have a business motto?
LB: When someone enters our office they are greeted with a ‘Welcome to Optimism’ message, as we want to create a business environment that drives confidence and is positive for our staff and visitors. We also have a sign in our boardroom: ‘Success Through Innovation’, a constant reminder to push the boundaries of innovation. Just because something was done a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean it will be done the same way in the future and that’s why innovation is something we work very hard on.
MY BUSINESS CONGRATULATES THIRDI PROPERTY GROUP ON BEING A DESERVING MY BUSINESS AWARD WINNER IN 2013.