From an early age, I would often fantasise about owning and running my own business. That burning desire was in part thanks to my parents, who owned and operated a manufacturing company. As a child, I would spend time down at their factory and when it came time for me to earn some pocket money, I was given menial tasks around the place. The company staff members were given a strict task of making sure I was looked after and, despite an easy ride, I knew one thing was for certain: I didn’t want to work in manufacturing. I say this respectively of course, having regard to the hard work both my parents put into that business, which survives today and, I am ever thankful for those childhood experiences as it cemented my desire to one day own my own business.
At the time, I had absolutely no idea what my own business might be or, to be fair, what running a business entailed, but I was absolutely certain that I wanted to be a boss and manage a team of people doing “business stuff”. I saw the benefits that my parents’ work had on our family, specifically, the “work/life” dynamic that they portrayed to me and my older siblings. With that aspect firmly resonating, we each went on to own and operate businesses in our respective industries.
The fact that some 30 years on I am now the owner of a strata management firm has to be a testament to those childhood experiences. They sparked a bit of the blind ambition that fuelled my professional journey and provided the curiosity that led me to the strata industry.
Following school, I took up a cadetship with a company in the building and construction industry. After 2 uneventful years, I found myself in pursuit of a different challenge. As a youngster, I was always of the mindset that I would be an architect, an engineer or a builder, even a property developer – it was all definitely property focused, I decided to enrol in a real estate course. A few weeks into the course, a class mate passed comment to me about strata management and the role of a strata manager. The thought of it appealed instantly.
I applied for a job the next week and was successful in securing employment with one of the largest strata management companies in Australasia. It wasn’t long before I knew that this was an industry that had great potential and something that I knew I was well suited to. The passion had found its spark and I started to learn my craft.
That was in 1999.
Working in an evolving strata industry
Fast-forward 18 years and it is fair to say that the industry that I am now proudly a part of has blossomed and continues to establish itself as a very necessary element for owners of strata and community titled properties. Over the last 10-15 years, with heavy construction pipelines, population growth, government rezoning and the complexity of new developments, a professional strata management service is such an essential part of property ownership.
In 2009, I established Wellman Strata and opened one of the many doors of opportunity that I had visualised at a young age.
The performance of the company in its opening years was unexpected; we achieved more growth than I had planned and the company continues to employ staff. We quickly outgrew our office in Glebe and have since moved a second time into larger premises.
As strata managers, we regularly face off against complex situations that affect owners in strata title buildings. Whether those situations involve major remedial repair projects, defect litigation, debt recovery efforts or owner disputes, many of these situations radiate a negative undercurrent that ultimately impacts owners, both financially and emotionally, and can create disharmony within the strata scheme that they live or work in.
As strata managers, we are heavily relied upon to provide the right level of management advice and guidance to ensure that such impact is minimised or mitigated in the most effective way.
This wasn’t always the case, though. Historically, our services would be limited to secretarial duties. However, as the industry has evolved, so have our clients’ demand for a more comprehensive strata service whereby the managing agent must be across many different aspects of property, accounting, building methodology and law. Whilst we do not provide legal or financial advice, we are often in the middle of it, guiding owners and committees to the right outcomes.
The diversity of a manager’s role in today’s strata market and dealing with like-minded professionals excites me.
I like helping people make better decisions and it gives me great pleasure when those decisions yield a positive outcome. And this is why I like doing what I do. I like the interaction that my role affords me with people from other backgrounds and professions and, I like seeing people succeed.
But, be under no illusions, the life of a strata manager is not for everyone. It commands long hours and you are often dealing with a negative situation that is in want of a positive one. Many people who understand a little about our role often say to me “I do not know how you do your job!”. My response is always, “Right person, right attitude!”
The Wellman Strata difference
Upon reflection whilst writing this piece, I can firmly state that family was a key driver for me and my business dreams. Even through big challenges and changes in my personal life – some that have really truly challenged and forced me to learn and grow quickly as company owner – the family values that I hold dear have carried across into the company. Values such as respect, support and appreciation for each other forms who and what we are every day, and this is resonating with our client base.
We’re motivated by the right things.
Every day, we make ourselves available and do our best to set a benchmark when it comes to providing proactive guidance that supports our clients through their current and future needs. Partnering with us means partnering with people who love and are genuinely passionate about what we do.
Oh, and did I mention we are having fun?
The best part is, we are just getting started.