“Large and Italian often go hand in hand, and that pretty much sums up my family. There were five kids, all of us boys, and my mother ruled us with an iron fist. We were close in age and close in relationship. Our father taught us early on that it was important to get on. You can disagree and still be friends. It’s all about being respectful, no matter what.
I was only 14 when my parents split up and it was quite shocking at the time. In those days, especially being Italian and Catholic, separated families were rare. At first it was hard, but my parents managed to find a way to keep the family together, even though their marriage had failed. My mother would still come to the house and cook and care for us, then go home to her own place.
I was always interested in real estate so when I finished school, I asked an agent I knew if I could work with him. He didn’t have a job for me, but he said I could help out until I found a proper job. Those were the days before mobiles and computers, so there were always things for me to do. You have to start somewhere.
A few months later I got my first proper job as a leasing consultant, then I became an assistant property manager. A few years in, I started working for the three directors of Ray White Double Bay and they became like another family to me. Eventually I became the department head, running the property management team for ten years. I learned so much.
Eventually I felt ready to strike out on my own but my directors said whatever I wanted to do, they wanted in too. So we became partners in a new business at Alexandria. Then eventually we merged with Surry Hills and when the partnership between those three directors broke up, a new partner and my wife and I bought the original shareholders out. I’m pleased to say I still have a strong relationship and great respect for all three, regardless of their split.
Seven years later, we’re now in two locations, with another partner joining the Erksineville business. I love partnership, I struggle to imagine how it’s possible to run a good business without the additional manpower and a diversity in skills. People ask me how it is that you pick a good partner. I don’t know there’s one answer because everyone’s so different, but I do think working on conflict as you go along is the important thing. You have to treat other people as your equals and be prepared to give and take.
My business is another family to me, and of course we’re part of the broader Ray White family too. I’m thrilled my two adult kids have now decided to join the business, I love us all working together. There are plenty of challenges ahead for our industry and I believe it’s going to be critical for agents to be flexible and open to change. You can waste energy fighting, or you can just go with it and adapt.
For me, the biggest achievement is that we’ve survived and continued to grow. I know how hard that is and I’d never take that for granted. That’s success.”