Phil Matthews, Director of Austart Homes, entered the construction industry at 15 when he started his apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery. By his early thirties, Phil was quoting to the New South Wales Housing Commission, renovating and building new houses in country New South Wales, and turning over around $6 million per annum. He soon grew tired of government contracts and moved into residential building for himself, launching Newstart Homes in Queensland in 1987 and opening his first display home by 1991.

Phil saw growing success across Queensland and Northern New South Wales, selling the South-East Queensland sector of Newstart Homes to Home Australia in 2000. "“I then focused on Cairns and decided that I was going to franchise. So I changed the name from Newstart Homes to Austart Homes, because that then gave me permission to go back to South-East Queensland and to Northern New South Wales and actually compete against Newstart Homes. We now run the Cairns franchise ourselves, while all the other locations are owned by franchisees.”"

Since establishing his organisation, Phil has taken great pride in the company he has built and the people who keep the business running. “"Some of the proudest moments are when you can actually go to work and you know that you have a good rapport with your staff and you are working as a team to achieve the goal. In life, it'’s not about you; it’'s about others. If you don'’t have good staff, you don’'t have a good business, and vice versa."

"“I don’'t believe in dictatorships; I don’'t believe in being a boss. I am just a person who is the leader who has the inspiration to say, ‘This is where we are going over the next two years; who is coming for the ride?’ I think that when you have actually achieved this and can then say to your staff, ‘Okay, this is your bonus. Thank you so much’, and you can see that they have been rewarded for their effort as well as you being rewarded for your effort —I believe there is a lot of pleasure and satisfaction in that.”"