Property developer and managing director of Velocity Property Group Brendon Ansell will share the key to success and his globetrotting story from his childhood in South Africa, to playing cricket for the UK, to beginning work in finance and ultimately property.
Having completed over 15 projects in the Brisbane area Ansell will discuss how he got to where he is today; the price to pay for success in the property; why he chooses to develop high-end luxury properties rather than those with a lower price point; and the valuable lessons learned between losing $8,000 on a deal and discovering the momentum which drove toward his property.
It’s clear Ansell has come a long way. He had a long term fascination and dream of becoming a property developer.
I've always loved the property. We did struggle financially in South Africa, you could say we were lower middle class - life was generally financially very much a struggle for us. But my mother was a part-time interior decorator and I used to go with her to appointments and I used to see how the other side lived, in very wealthy mansions. So I've always been fascinated by property and aesthetically beautiful property. So at Velocity Property here we focus on luxury high-end projects, we don't do investment-type properties, we don't do lower price point properties, most of our stuff is a million dollars and up. So I've always loved aesthetically pleasing properties and luxury properties - and now we create them!
So what does a day in his life look like?
No day is even remotely the same as the next. I tend to be quite fluid now, obviously, we have staff who are very specifically skilled in all their distinct roles, so I no longer have to be everything to everybody.
So now I'm trying to consciously create my day in a specific order and we divide my activities into three main lines of work: one is activities that create future opportunities and income. The second is activities that create income today, or don't lose money today - so problem-solving. And then the third is anything admin-related or getting back to people. So I prioritise my day in that order.
Ansell grew up in South Africa, at a time when the country was going through a very volatile period.
I was at school during the changeover to democracy which was an exciting time and a great time for the country, but also very volatile - lots of violence, lots of sudden changes. So we went from a very strict, militaristic style society to completely open and free overnight. So as a 16-17-year-old, you can imagine the type of trouble you might get up to when you’ve suddenly got free reign and the like. So we had a challenging few years with pretty much very little structure, you could say.
The family’s decision to move overseas was partial because of the violent uprisings taking place in their hometown.
We actually tried Canada first but got rejected thankfully, because I'm not sure we would’ve gone over there, at minus 30 degrees. But Australia is a very similar culture to South Africa in a lot of respects, very similar weather, very similar sporting type culture. So I'm thankful we've got to come here because it's far easier to assimilate and then build contacts and friends and stuff. You don't have different language barriers and other challenges. Specifically what triggered us to come were dire financial circumstances and some very close calls from a violence point of view.
I was 18 when we [moved]. My parents came first and got the required visas and that, then I came shortly after.
He then settled into the sporting culture in Australia for several years before making another important life decision.
Well, I was also a reasonably good cricketer, so I played representative cricket in South Africa. So I had to make a choice of whether to stay and have a go for the professional teams, but obviously the risk was high if you didn't make it. So I came to Australia specifically to make sure I get the passport and visa stamp first before making any decisions and then I actually ended up staying for about 18 months, two years and I took off to the UK on a cricketing contract over there. Then for the next five years, I pretty much split my time between the UK and New Zealand.
I didn't have to work too much, I got paid to play. I had a great time from 19 years old to 25 - I got paid to travel the world, didn't get a lot of money and it wasn't as professional back then in the late 90s as it is now. We had a lot of parties and enjoyed ourselves as well.
Before moving back to Australia in 2002 at about 25 years old, his time in the UK opened new doors for Ansell within the corporate world.
A very senior manager, high up in HSBC and investment banking gave me a job in London for two years after I finished cricket. So that was a great segway out of cricket and into a more professional environment. I found in that time in London, people didn't work very hard and it was a great opportunity for me to learn the game on investment banking as quickly as I could. I immersed myself in it and got my knowledge and skill set up in banking and investment models. And I seemed to head away in my mid-20s, where I immersed myself in personal development as well. So I spent every waking moment learning everything I could about personal development, to investing, to property and quickly found that property was my original passion and what I came back to. Having worked in investment banking, the stock market made no sense to me and seemed to lack any form of real intrinsic value. So I think seeing people and clients lose their shirt off the back really quickly was interesting to see. So yeah, the property was always my passion so I reverted back to that.
And I started buying property in Brisbane while I was working in London. I used that income to buy the property back here and thankfully that was around 2000, 2001 and 2002. So I bought properties generally in the Logan area quite cheaply. Then the market went absolutely berserk in 2003-2004 and I thought I was a property genius. Meanwhile, all I did was buy some cheap properties and they went up in value. There is no skill set in it.
The choice to move back to Australia was spurred by circumstances surrounding a terrifying world event.
I came back in 2002 shortly after September 11th. I was on the trading floor in London when we actually saw on TV that the plane was going into the buildings and half the stockbrokers on our floor, their phones cut out. They were actually on the phone to some of the trading floors in the tower. So that was a bit of a shock. And the US embassy was next door to us, so I didn't know whether I wanted to hang around too long. So I quit the next month and I spent three or four months travelling in Europe before coming back in 2002.
Preferring Queensland to NSW, Ansell found it challenging to further pursue his career in banking; so he began work in a different field.
I tried to get back into banking here but was surprised that my experience in London didn't seem to count for anything. But I wanted to come back to Brisbane as opposed to Sydney - Brisbane’s a very similar climate and lifestyle to Durban so I’ve always preferred Brisbane over Sydney. And coming back to Brisbane, there was essentially no banking here at the time and obviously the early 2000s was a challenging time as well and there was very little work available or on the go. Then coming into 2003, the property market came off as well so it was a challenging time to be in Brisbane and get ahead.
So I decided to branch out and get into finance, mortgage broking and financing for other developers probably till about 2007-2008. I still have a share in the original finance business which is being managed by someone else now. But up until about five years ago I pretty much spent eight or nine years immersing myself in that and running my own business. And that was excellent, because I had a really great way to earn cash flow plus do your own small projects on the side and also learn lessons from our clients, so I didn't have to go through those hard times myself.
Creating high-end luxury properties was something that always resonated throughout Ansell’s journey - even in his early days.
Even when I was in finance, I was still doing quality projects. I just never had that ability to try and purchase a block of land and build a cheap house, I always wanted to try and stack it up or go for a higher price point. Even going back to 2009-2010, I was doing deals in Hawthorne, Bulimba, those sorts of areas and they were $1 million+ then. So we started that fairly early.
But also my research told me that suburbs in Brisbane like Bulimba, or the inner city boutique low density suburbs maintained their values exceptionally well, they are desirable lifestyle areas. I didn't see it as a great risk to go into that price point, I saw it as less risky than some of the cheaper suburbs that were more susceptible to interest rate rises and other factors and supply - the city’s constrained land supply in the inner cities of Australia.
So what did he do with his properties in Logan? In the end, he made the decision that felt right for his situation.
I just kept trading up. Interestingly, I had a very similar discussion this week with another chap I’m mentoring at the moment who you could almost identically put him in my spot back around 2002-2003. So I had this discussion already this week where he's actively trying to become full time in the property, but also hold on to properties along the way. And unless you have a consistent cash flow it’s very difficult to do that.
And then you hit the wall where banks aren’t lending you money. So I sold them and kept trading up.
Being brought up around parents who weren’t involved in property, Ansell started at the bottom and worked his way up. He believes it all came down to taking control of his life and making a change.
They're not from that sort of line of thinking. They’re in their 70s now and they still work quite hard. So they’ve never been invested - none of my family's from that so I'm completely, 100% self-made.
It's pretty hard, as you can imagine, to put 20 years of life experience into a short conference like this. But if I had to summarise how that happened, I could probably only say that your mindset and your personal development dictates where you are living. I personally don't believe it's that random. I believe there are some random aspects to life, but that we have a reasonable amount of control over it and depending on where you are based on your personal development and any internal belief system. I didn't want that life, I wanted a better life so I learned what needed to be learned. You have to become the person first; history will show that people that suddenly win money like in the lotto or something, generally in most cases lose it and end up in a worse position than they were before because their skill set and their mindset haven't kept pace with their wealth.
So if somebody wants to get out of that position... and I've always been a forward-thinking, forward-moving person, I can't stand sitting still, I can't stand just going to the same nine to five job every day. That’s my lot in life, I wasn't built that way. I accepted that I was going to do whatever it took to get out of those situations.
In terms of his worst investing moments, Ansell’s strong-willed state of mind allows him to overcome his challenges and not dwell on them too freely.
I would call myself a very strong-willed person, I tend not to be down too long, or I don't allow myself to stay in that frame of mind for too long. I have challenges every day and your challenges never go away, they just change. So, anyone who’s expecting that they'll become a better person and suddenly have no issues in life, I'm sorry that's not realistic. Some of my biggest challenges are now, not necessarily back in the past, because we have a far greater responsibility now.
I do it for the love of the game. For love of the game first and personal wealth second. So when I was just on my own as a developer, running my own company and making money or losing money, that was fine because there was always the next deal to go into. It created a process that gave me my energy. Now I've got a far greater responsibility of looking after thousands of shareholders’ hard-earned capital.
So it's a different type of challenge, but I forget about the deals. Thankfully I've only lost the one deal and that was about $8,000. My grounding in finance came in the knowledge first before I went full time into properly - I increased my knowledge base first before committing too heavily.
As it turns out, the deal he lost could have been a lot worse if he had continued with it, making the choice to cut his losses when it didn’t work out.
I personally believe the ones you let go are more important than your wins. So even stock market traders will tell you that when you minimise your losses, you minimise your wins. So when you have a property or a site and you can see that the market is coming off, rather than put your head in the sand and go, ‘I'm going to go and build this anyway and hope I can sell it at the end.’ Up north this side, I got a deal for seven apartments, I sit there going, ‘I can't build it. I'm not going to be able to sell these, the market is coming off. I've got my timing all wrong here.’ So you’ve got two choices: you push ahead and hope it comes out alright, or I went, ‘Oh, there's an offer on the table. It's a small loss - and $8,000 is a small loss in the project if you're going to take a loss - I'll make the sale and move on.’
The key there for me was when I kind of went outside of my usual formula and instead of sticking to premium, high-end areas and high-end property owner-occupiers, I went to the outer suburbs and tried to expand the number of properties I was doing, going from two or three at a time to six and seven. Because I wanted to get to that next stage. I wanted to increase the size of my project but went out to an outlying area where the market is more volatile.
It was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. I could’ve lost a million dollars and gone bankrupt, or gone backward, or eroded years of hard work. But it's very difficult for people to admit they made a mistake, it's very hard to actually put your hand up and go, ‘I made a mess of this. I made a bad choice here, I've just got to suck up the loss and move on.’ And it doesn't matter if that’s $8,000 or $100,000, if you can suppress your ego long enough to make calm, rational decisions for the long term - medium and long term thinking is exceptionally important in property. Because if you're constantly focusing on the medium and long term which you’re trying to build, you don't mind taking that amount of loss. It's understanding your own personal risk profile. What are you prepared to accept? If you're not prepared to accept any losses when you get close to lose you have to cut and run. If you're a person that has a high-risk profile where you’re happy to wait it out and see if the market recovers, they make it out. As I’ve become more successful my risk profile has actually dropped.
When considering the a-ha moments where everything fell into place for Ansell, his top three are centred on the philosophy of momentum.
I've always really understood momentum and that probably comes from a sporting background playing cricket and going through long periods of time - go and watch a Test match and you'll see the momentum change. If you're watching a Test match and momentum moves everything along at one point and then Australia gets a wicket, it's a shift in momentum, you can see the energy pick up of the bowlers and the players because they've noticed and they understand that they've broken a pattern. So they've got the momentum back on their side, so they go harder. The bowler doesn't relax and go, ‘I’ve got a wicket on the scoreboard, I'm going to chill out for the next few overs and bowl at a medium pace.’ They go harder. So they understand momentum.
So when you get an opportunity or you meet a person or find something that's really good value to you, don't go on holiday for a week. Go harder, you can go on holiday later.
The first important moment for him was when the GFC hit and he had to make a choice between doing the right thing or turning a blind eye.
During the GFC, everybody had severe problems and a lot of property interest rates went through the roof, we were really getting squeezed, cash flow was dropping, expenses were going through the roof. I had a situation where I had a small protest in Bulimba and I got right to the stage of starting construction and I just found, ‘I can't do it. Everything is going bad in business and property. I can't build these, I've got to pull back.’ So going to that builder who is very, very disappointed, I think I had about $15,000 in cash left, I asked them what expenses they had incurred to date. So I had a choice then, I could walk away, save my $15,000 and look after myself. And I thought there's something in this, there’s a pivotal moment here that has something relevant to me and if I do this, I've got to be confident I'm going to be rewarded for this. I paid them $12,500 to make sure that they incurred no loss and I went right down to my last $2,500, which is a tough thing to do. I just had a strong intuitive feeling that I needed to do that and that action took me to another level that I could shift your thinking from self-preservation to a more abundant, big-picture thinking. So it was a pivotal moment - that builder has completely missed the lesson, they just took the money and ran, but that’s alright, they didn’t understand how unique that choice was and how big it was because people would have been stiffing then left, right and centre.
Another pivotal moment came when he met an influential person who would have a positive impact on the evolution of his mindset.
Second is meeting one of my current mentors, who is close to being a billionaire at the moment, who is also a migrant. I wanted to choose mentors that were relevant to my situation and migrants are very successful in Australia for obvious reasons.
So he's a migrant and he was essentially broke in his late 40s, 50 years old and started again from scratch and has built a billion-dollar empire inside 20 years. So I listened to him talk at an event, there were probably a thousand people there and I thought, ‘I think everyone is going to pepper him after this, I’d just be yet another number of people ringing him asking if they could catch up.’ I actually rang his office and I said to his secretary, ‘I'm making a $1,000 donation to his charity and I would like to meet him for an hour, but there is no obligation I'll make the donation anyway.’ And that singular event made me stand out out of all the people ringing and asking him for something. He actually called me in for a meeting, then proceeded to keep in touch. I've spent a bit of time with him, I’ve played golf with him and the time I spent with him has completely raised my ceiling on what I thought was possible.
When I first met him I was doing little seven packs of units - through a little bit of interaction I've gone, ‘He has created a billion-dollar empire in 20 years. There is no skill set difference between him and I, there's only a mindset difference.’ So what I took from that is I raised my ceiling massively and I'm not going to put a ceiling on it. I want to see how far we can go with it. Can we become the biggest property company in Australia? Now we decide.
The third a-ha moment for Ansell fell into place at a tipping point where things shifted as a consequence of a significant decision he made.
The third event was I wanted to think about how I could expand much bigger and faster and the only way is access to larger amounts of capital on bringing on powerful joint venture partners. So I very, fortunately, happened to meet a gentleman from Singapore who was out on holiday, we got introduced by a mutual friend and just happened to be that pivotal moment in time. I was walking out on the street with my son going for a beer and she rang me and said, ‘This gentleman is out from Singapore, we’re actually down the street in Bulimba - do you want to meet up?’ So I had a choice, you can go, ‘No, I'm going to go have a beer with my mates,’ or I can go meet a business contact. So I asked somebody to look after my son and I met him. So if I didn't go to that meeting there would have been a radically different outcome.
So I met him and their group from Singapore came out to bureaucratic with us and about two months later, they had committed to a $20 million project - which up till that point, my largest product was probably $7-8 million. So it went to another level straightaway and that has triggered a series of events of access to large amounts of capital through Singapore and then to become a listed company.
There are three very key pivotal moments.
Momentum Wealth: Success in Multi-Unit And Commercial Development Concept With Brendon Ansell
To strengthen his mindset around the property, Ansell sought specific resources to help him.
I read a lot of books. When I was running the finance company instead of listening to the radio news, I constantly listened to personal developing style CDs and that stuff just to absorb energy. And a lot of it can be Americanised, you can pick and choose but you can listen to a whole CD set and you only need one or two ideas that can help you get to the next level. So it might be an educational course on sales or something like that and during listening to that, I’d pick up one idea then get to the next appointment and apply and get better at what I was doing. So like I said earlier, it's what you do in your spare time.
I mean the converse is, there's no shortage of people in the world who learn lots of things and don't apply them. So you haven’t actually learned it then, you’ve just read some words on a page and skipped on.
In terms of mentors, he doesn’t put too much emphasis on their presence on his journey.
Anyone can be a mentor. I don't like to put people up on a pedestal that have everything covered in life, I don't think that's possible. We always have something to work on whether it's our fitness, our relationship, our parenting work - it's always something to work on. So to put a human being high up on a pedestal, say he's perfect and want to emulate his life; I still want to do my thing so I've only gone for mentors in a purely professional sense. Very ethical, but very different lifestyles and because I was looking at a guy who works very much in our life balance. I do want some aspect of life balance and with an over 7-year-old son, it's important that I don't just perpetuate a story of having a massively successful father that you never saw.
So you know a little bit of balance in my life, although balance doesn't gel well with past success - ironically the power of focus is what does it. Balance for me is periods of intense focus to create results quickly. Balancing with periods of relaxation and pulling back, as opposed to just taking seven days off in the run-up acceleration of work. I don't do that.
Take a big holiday every year, go overseas. Make it big. Now we go to Europe for five to six weeks, enjoy ourselves.
While turning to books to help hone his personal development has proven valuable, Ansell prefers hands-on experience over things you can read in a book.
I think books are excellent for concepts, ideas, and mindset. I've never really found a decent property book for the specific reason that they are too generic and it's very hard. There are lots of different property markets all over the world and then individually within a city centre that write property books specifically and I actually find them quite dull. So my style has been to use education in books for personal development and then learned which has been the most value for me. When we hire staff, we have people come in with the fanciest resumes and tremendous university degrees - in the property you’ve got to be street smart, you can't learn that stuff from a book on the street because negotiations are like lightning glaciation on a property is very intuitive sometimes. So it's not a cerebral exercise.
The best advice he has ever received is related to maintaining his mindset by surrounding himself with successful people, rather than the ‘chicken littles’ of the world.
My property mentor has no filter, he has no limiting belief system. He believes he can create something extraordinarily massive and he has to start that thing again. If I had to take a couple of key points, they're not so much advice that gives me other ideas or concepts I've adopted very carefully.
There's an old saying: if you want to see your future, have a look at your immediate peer group. If you're still hanging around with mates from uni who are not going anywhere, that's your future. If you want to increase your future and make a better future, you get around those people because you just absorb their energy and their thought patterns with you. So when you're starting out and you have dreams and you're trying to build, there's plenty of chicken littles out there who will knock your dreams. And Australia still has an issue with the tall property syndrome, so I think that societal syndrome is very limiting for us as a country, to help us move forward to the next stage. We need to be celebrating success more and in helping people become successful because we pay a lot of taxes.
As a developer, Ansell has built many high-end luxury properties for investors and owner-occupiers. However this is just the outcome - so how did he achieve this?
Before you even get to that, it helps you get to your journey faster by having as much clarity as you can in what you're trying to do, so therefore you can build anything or select a site. We've applied very much an economic thought process to our company. What I mean by that is we study economic trends and demographic trends consistently on a daily basis, then formulate our strategy after that, then coincided with a more market-style project. We are an aging population. We have a very wealthy set of population in empty nesters and baby boomers who have been fortunate that in the majority of their working life, they have not had a recession. So the stats show that the baby boomers account for about 9-10% of the population, yet hold 60% of the wealth in Australia. That's massively just distorted the economy.
In fact, the statistical analysis would go, ‘Where's Australia going in the future?’ I have certain thought patterns based on mine and one of my other mentors and consultants is actually a bit of a Futurist and trend analysis-style person who comes from a managed fund background. So we're doing a little bit of future prediction here. We've modelled all our entire business around that set of demographics and thought patterns and also what's happening in the future, so we experience a massive shift. We will experience a massive shift the next 20 years of baby boomers moving out from large homes into apartments and townhouses.
For the eventuality that the worst-case scenario happens, Ansell and his team do have an exit strategy.
Our strategy is instead of doing excessively large projects of 100 to turn into units, we are doing lots of smaller boutique projects between sort of $15-50 million gross value and numbers between 15 and 40 apartments. So at the moment, we're using a risk minimisation strategy of diversification spreading across lots of products, not one massive all out - which is the complete opposite of what my mentor taught us, but he has a higher risk profile than I did. It's his all or nothing. I'm not prepared to take that risk offline from a shareholder. It's something we need to ask ourselves you know, what happens if one product goes pear-shaped? We have plenty of others and they spread and spread around the state and then we can make the decision when we start construction as well.
Another thing I try to do is have cheap land prices. Expensive builds, you push your risk to the back end of a project, you know a $4 million purchase of land, twenty million dollars built not a $50 million purchase on land 15 in a dollar bill because your risk is brought forward. So if we purchase a site for say $3 or $4 million and we buy through the central bank, we can let it sit there for five years and then we can pick and choose where we go. So we'll start selling; if we just don't sell anything we won't start construction. There are lots of little things you can learn and do to minimise that. But being aware of the risk in enough indiscretions is important. The ‘build that and hope they come’ mentality, it is very risky.
He also conducts feasibility studies to determine where to purchase and build, as well as focusing on the design of a home with the customer in mind.
So we're a little bit more cautious. But even then, When we buy a site we try and diversify the product on them as well. So we've got a site in Brisbane which is a real upmarket, inner-city suburb in the western suburbs near the universities and the private schools. Then we've got a 40,000 square metre on a hilltop in one of the best streets in the other, so instead of doing 50 apartments we're mixing up the product - houses, townhouses, and apartments and having different price points and as inquiry comes in, you can move them between different products or give them options.
That's really smart. How did you come up with with with something like that because you know like you've obviously done a feasibility study and found out what the sub is in and so forth but how did you know that OK? These are the kinds of products to offer to potential buyers.
From a design perspective I get heavily involved in the architecture of science, that's very much a passion of mine, designing someone's home and why they want to live there. So the product is there's a number of different factors in the topography of the land, what is surrounding the site and the reality of the site was that it's on a hilltop or slows down a little bit. Then at the top of the hill, we've got 314 built houses on the ridge, the bottom of the hill. We've got six-seven undoubtedly apartments, we've followed the topography of the land and the style of the suburb to make sense hoping that Brisbane City Council would support us and see the rationale, but unfortunately, we don't get any support from our local councils. They missed the point completely. So it took us 14 months to get that approval.
So I had the option of distracting and so on and again, we held sway I said, ‘No, this is the right strategy,’ and we went to court and we won.
It sounds like a lot of persistence to actually get through all this!
Well, the irony is we were paid $5.7 for the sign and in our heart is to say no to that offer, when everybody is telling you to bail. Most of them know this. It’s protected once they get it through, it has a strong profit margin and it's great for our branding and the suburban needs. So sometimes there's a fine line between being pig-headed and stubborn.
Entering into property development 20 years ago, it took Ansell's hard work and persistence to achieve success. So what is his advice for people who are starting out in property?
Place more emphasis on the medium to long term and less emphasis on the short term. Give yourself a break in the short term about how quickly you can receive results - take a 10-year approach, because when you do you get massive results in the last two to three years. It’s about building momentum to give yourself a break. So when I came back from London, I sat down and wrote out my goals: ‘I'm coming back, I want to do this and I want to have 10 properties in the next five to six years,’ and then nothing happened for the first three or four years. Massive frustration until some people give you some perspective they're like, ‘Oh wait, you're managing for three years, trying to create a portfolio of 10 to 15 is a big ask.’ So you can be ambitious but just layer it.
Property is a longer-term game. It's not like shares where we can get in and out in five minutes. And that's not a limiting belief system, what it does is it helps you in the early days get through the tough times. You don't give up so easily because you've got a longer-term approach and then secondly, to be very clear on what you want and see what it is. What is your primary reason for getting into property? Do you love your job and it's a side investment to build your momentum of wealth for your family? Great, do that. Don't confuse it with wanting to get into property full time because very few people do it successfully. If property is your primary passion and you want to get into it, then go do it. But understand that the first few years will be hard as you build and grow.
I love that.
But I think a lot of people pile into the property game full time for the love of money first and the game second. It's way harder because when you're not getting the financial results, how do you get out of bed in the morning? Motivates your primary and there's nothing wrong with the prime motivation being big money. I don't want to make a comparison, just understand your reasoning for doing things and you're tempering it with your short, medium and long term thinking.
Although he does not attribute any particular personal habits to his success, he does believe in the importance of running your own journey.
I would say I'm more of an intuitive person, I feel in the moment in time what actions and courses to take. That is I'm more of a present person in my thinking, I don't think about the past and I'm not that much of a future thinker. I can think three to five years out but I know that goes against what I said earlier about the short, medium or long term. That's more when you’re starting out when you get some reasonable level of stability or success. Run your own journey, find out what works yourself and go do that.
Now Ansell is most excited about improving Velocity Property Group to make it the best it can be for his clients.
I'm in the phase where I need to reset higher goals. We've achieved something fairly significant in a short space of time, so I need to raise that ceiling and reset. I'm still in that process you know, do we want to become one of the best small boutique property companies in Australia or do we want to be the biggest? The biggest challenge I see with the biggest guys in the country if they have a big machine to feed they have to keep doing deals and they have to spread that to go do deals that don't match their original ethos, just to make money better machine. So if I had to make a statement it would become the greatest property company in Australia, not the biggest or most profitable. That’s something that our shareholders are massively proud to be a part of and we make great returns for them.
But they also see what we do. We do a lot of other stuff and they're actively trying to get all our projects, construction, and development off-grid to be a leader in that space and to find wealthy buyers who connect with that vision as well and will help us pay for it. So in some of our projects, we're spending $100,000 per unit on the build, so we're actually spending more because of all the energy-saving devices and everything we put in. It's very hard to get someone to share that cost with you because they have a set budget and they go, ‘That's all I want to pay for that property.’ So we're now in that cycle. I think everybody has the intention of wanting to help the environment and do their part, they just don’t want to pay for it.
So if he met himself 10 years ago, what would he say?
I'll probably say, ‘Do it earlier.’ Like even though our journey has been quick, I had the skill set to start it earlier, I didn't catch up with the belief system.
And you know, be careful who you spend your time with, which is what I did. I've had a weeding out process over the last 10 years. And secondly, don't worry so much about how you're perceived. I think a large part of our behaviour on a daily basis is to appease other people or concerns about how we're seen in business and life. Just be yourself and go for it. Unless you're an arsehole; in this case don’t accentuate that.
If you would like to connect with Ansell, you can do so through his website, velocitypropertygroup.com.au.
The best way I would say is just contacted us through our website and you will probably find your way to my P.A. Happy to give little bits of time here and there, it's all part of giving back so you’re more than welcome to do what I can to help where I can.
Also, make a donation to my charity and they'll go straight up the list. We're part of a charitable organisation where we've built some orphanages in Nepal and that. I intend to invest my own personal money in social style ventures and businesses. So we own half of a natural earth building company in Nepal, where a gentleman is an architect and the builder has a pay it forward philosophy which after the earthquakes, a large portion of the country was damaged. So the business model is he goes into villages, using the villagers and their labour to help him build the first house and then leaves the blueprint on how to do it themselves, using natural earth materials.