AFTER post-high school stints driving trucks, operating cranes and working in hospitality and retail, Garrick Bull found his true calling in building homes. Less than six years into operation, his companies are well on track to turn over $75 million in FY11.
As the construction industry continues to battle record low housing approvals and poor consumer confidence, Garrick Bull’s story is a rare tale of success.
The 32-year-old founded his first building company G Developments in late 2005 which has prompted the formation of GM Homes. Last year the two companies built 240 homes across South East Queensland amassing $53 million revenue – a $17 million or 36 per cent increase on FY09.
Bull credits the success of his companies to ‘good internal workflow processes and great staff’.
“Predominantly we get all our work through word of mouth. I’ve found that we haven’t had to do any advertising or marketing for our houses,” he says.
“We’ve forged a reputation through offering a good product at the right price and when you do that people find you. Consistency is a massive thing in this industry; we don’t cut corners or use rough finishes to bring costs down, it’s all about quality.
“This financial year we’ve had quite a few clients who were renting houses that we built for investors a few years ago. They were impressed by their rentals so they found out who the builder was.”
After learning all he could about residential construction and property development from employers Coral Homes and Metricon, the then 26-year-old built a business plan and jumped in with both feet.
Now employing 20 staff and ‘thousands of contractors’, he admits economic conditions have forced him to work harder than anticipated.
Despite recent interest rate rises, he senses a renewed confidence in the owner-occupier market and says investment building will continue to reap the benefits of government subsidies for years.
“G Developments primarily focuses on the investment market while GM Homes is a retail builder offering building services and house and land packages to the public,” says Bull.
“Builders who have relied solely on one market have certainly found it tougher. Investment builds have been our biggest driver of growth but we’re getting more and more into the owner-occupier market now.
“The lenders have been so strict that borrowers are very well qualified in today’s market and won’t be too fazed by a few interest rate rises. The only buyers really pushed out of the market are those who probably shouldn’t have been there anyway.”
While remaining tight-lipped on profit, Bull assures Gold Coast Business News his companies are performing above par.
“I started the company on savings alone and we’ll continue to grow without needing to borrow any money,” he says.
“I love this industry and the people in it. There is a real friendly, relaxed culture but everyone knows they need to work hard and the get the job done.
“I only employ people who I know will get the job done and have the same work ethic that sees our staff enjoy coming to work. Any problem that occurs is quickly resolved and never spoken about again.”
As head of one of the fastest growing residential construction companies on the Gold Coast, Bull says he did the simple things right.
“The first house I built was for a friend I used to work for. Then the next I think was the house I built for my best mate,” he says.
“I called everyone I knew and told them that it was finished and turned out great. I was very happy that what I had set out to create was working well and that’s continued until today. You’ve got to manage your growth carefully or you’ll implode. We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing because it seems to be working.”
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