Unlike many other businesses that have struggled under the pressure of COVID-19, Melbourne’s leading real estate developer Hallmarc Group has seen an upturn in market performance. According to the ABC, people moved to regional areas in a ‘city exodus’ because of the extended lockdown and attractive regional house prices.
“People have a strong appetite to move regionally or be within a commuting distance from Melbourne,” CEO Michael Loccisano confirms. “We’re seeing an increased level of demand influencing the projects we’re rolling out. We’re now looking at the markets and where the next opportunities will arise.”
Hallmarc is not your average property development and construction company. The list of its functions is broad – it does almost everything in-house while creating spaces in communities that enhance people’s lives.
“We make site acquisitions. We do all of the design and planning work, and we have our own team of architects and designers,” Michael explains.
“We do all of the construction, both residential and commercial. We manage all of the marketing and sales internally. We also take care of property management, both residential and commercial. There’s owners corporation management, and we vertically integrate into other businesses like serviced apartments and serviced offices.”
Michael is proud of how hard the company has worked over the past year to manage the situation. The beginning of the pandemic was uncertain for everyone. He met with his executive team to assure them that they would maintain the company’s capabilities whatever the future looked like.
We’ll ask our teams to explore innovations, which keeps them motivated because they know they have a part to play in our next project.
“We didn’t ask anyone to take special leave or a pay cut,” he says. “We told them to knuckle down, work on the relationships we have with all of our suppliers, customers and tenants, and make sure that at the end of the process, we would be at least in the same position, if not better, than what we were at the start of it.”
That leadership team has decades of experience; Michael has worked in the property industry for more than 30 years, and Founding Director Marc Cini has 42 years under his belt. However, everyone at Hallmarc is welcome to share their thoughts, and Michael encourages input from the younger generation who might have less experience but interesting ideas.
“Every department is involved in discussions about the company’s vision, opportunities and threats,” Michael says. “While the executive leaders have our views on things as people with decades of experience, we like to see the thoughts and ideas that come from the next generation of people.”
They collaborate to decide which areas to focus on, what their next projects will look like and envisage the future from a new perspective. “We don’t just use our tried and tested ways,” he states. “We’ll ask our teams to explore innovations, which keeps them motivated because they know they have a part to play in our next project.”
It also provides opportunities for staff to find their passion within the organisation. “We have several examples where we’ve employed administrative staff who have shown interest in other areas of our business, and we’ve moved them into our commercial areas. One such person is now running our serviced office businesses.”
Hallmarc is always seeking to improve and think ahead of the game across every department. Whether it’s an office space, townhouse or lifestyle project, it looks to innovate and develop better ways of producing its product offering.
“We always think about our customers’ needs and what they want from the spaces we create for them,” Michael says. “The first thing we do when we complete a project is to go back to the customers after a period of time and ask them how they think we could improve.
“We ask them what things they like and don’t like about it, and where they think we could do better next time. We get our teams to look at new technologies, new materials, new design initiatives, and we try to bring that all together into a constantly evolving and improved offering.”
Michael and his team’s challenge is to look past the trend and make a solid, lasting decision. “Most people buying a property are not buying it to live in today and sell it tomorrow,” Michael points out.
“They’re aiming to live in it for an extended period of time, so we must be mindful of the fact that it must still be good in five years or 10 years from now. “You must constantly be looking into the future and planning well ahead because if you get it wrong, it can be very costly. We distinguish between a short-lived course and the fundamentals, which keep you in good stead for the future.”
Michael and his team have managed to grow a well-recognised company in the industry. “I think most people regard us as being a wholesome business,” he says. “We certainly have integrity. I’m happy to drive past our projects and say, ‘We built that.’ We’re proud of what we’ve built, from a humble product, right through to a high-end one. We want to take pride in everything that we’ve achieved and make sure that our staff and our customers are happy with the results.”
The next year looks promising, and the company aims to grow considerably over the next five, 10 and 20 years. “We’re in a strong position financially and believe we will continue to grow and give our people opportunity within the company and industry,” Michael says.
“As a strong family company, we make our decisions with a long-term view on property. We don’t work based on a quick buck today – get in, get out. Our view is that we’ll keep developing and holding real estate assets.”
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