Michael Hickinbotham has a family heritage of innovation and hard work. As Managing Director of the Hickinbotham Group, he is the third generation to take the reins of the construction business, building on the family company his father, Alan David, and grandfather, Alan Robb, established in 1954. "I always worked in the family business as a kid. In my summer holidays, I worked on building sites from the age of 12 and really loved the environment and camaraderie with the subbies, all of whom were very kind to me. I was a brickie's labourer and a labourer for a concreting gang, which was an invaluable experience. This was an era when we mixed concrete for a lot of jobs by hand and wheelbarrowed it in. I really learned the meaning of hard work. I had exposure to the building side of the business from a young age, and, as well as working on site, often worked in the office during my university years. So I got a good feel for the industry and the business from an early age."
Coming into the family business, Michael was already familiar with how it operated, which put him in good stead to help get the company back into the black. "I joined the family company in 1993, but it wasn't in good financial shape to meet the icy headwinds that blew after the State Bank disaster hit the South Australian economy. I spent the next 10 years with my brother turning it around. We re-engineered the whole business: closed our interstate office, sold most of our assets, cut our cloth to meet the difficult market conditions, and generally worked out how to get the company back on track. That was 10 years of hard work, but the company is going well now as a result of the tough decisions we made during those years."
Since taking the top office in 2002, Michael has introduced various initiatives to further grow the company's reach and capacity. One such project is the South Australia Housing Centre, which was implemented to encourage young first home buyers into the housing market and help strengthen Hickinbotham's position. We are a strong number one, and that's through our market-leading Hickinbotham and Statesman brands. We saw a niche in the market to assist younger people who are currently renting even though they are earning good money and aspire to home ownership.