Formed in 1973, Raymond Vincent Homes got its start as a franchise building operation for Sydney-based Lyndsay Edmonds Homes. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the company took off from its franchise building partners and became something of its very own. “We opened our first display firm and started marketing our own brand,” says Managing Director Raymond Vincent. “We’ve continued marketing through display homes since then.”
While the company initially received a great amount of interest – servicing up to 65 houses at one given time – Vincent saw a more beneficial option in downsizing, as this would allow for further emphasis on the quality of each home and less of a “factory” feel for him and his associates. A new display home has been beneficial, allowing the company to increase in revenue just before Christmas, but still remain in control of its size.
The focus on quality is apparent for Raymond Vincent Homes, as they make sure that each house is specifically designed to not only meet the needs of the client, but also appeal to the unique layout of each building site. “We try and take in any benefits the site has such as slope, or views and orientation and, of course, we take into account the owner’s budget.”
Accessibility of these homes to clients is also an important feature. One of the more intriguing projects was a beachfront property sold late last year to a trio of elderly sisters. The main goal in making this house a home for these clients was to provide accommodation for their physical needs. “We’ve designed the house to give them reasonable level access from the road to the house, and the house is three storeys high,” says Vincent. “All of the living spaces and bedrooms in the house face the views to the ocean. So, that’s going to be an interesting one for us.”
In addition to this venture, the directors also provides their services to families of sick children by providing affordable holiday units through Apex, Apex members raised money from the community to purchase a piece of beach-adjacent land. “We built six holiday units with mostly volunteer labour for that purpose,” says Vincent. “The units have been well-used since then, and they’re still currently used on a regular basis – and they’re still maintained in excellent condition.”
Vincent has had a large focus on community service outside of just his business. More recently he has been involved with Angel Flight Australia, which provides medical flight services to those living outside of the city. He was also elected Citizen of the Year within the local council, and has won many awards in accordance with the company through the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and the Master Builders Association (MBA); the company places as a finalist most times they enter.
“We’ve been very lucky with the building awards for the HIA and the MBA,” he says. “We won awards with the MBA for best display home, and best design and construction of a house between one and two million dollars; and with the Housing Industry Association, we’ve won the best house in New South Wales, South Coast and country areas, and best renovation under five hundred thousand.”
In fact, the company’s strong relationship with the HIA and the MBA has gained them more than merit awards. Vincent is a member of the South Coast sector of both of these organisations, and they work hard to provide Raymond Vincent Homes with any help they need to remain top-tier in the industry. “We have a fair bit of dealings with both of those organisations,” says Vincent. “We often consult them for advice on construction and legal matters. We have advice and assistance from them with work health and safety, with our stationery, with our office systems. Both those organisations give us updates on new products and updates on building code of Australia amendments and government regulations as well as economic updates.”
These updates are important to success within the industry, as it allows business owners to see any patterns that may affect their companies. Currently, Vincent foresees a possible shortage of tradesmen as something to monitor for the future; his solution? More working apprentices. “We’ve come through a very steady period over the last four or five years where we haven’t had a boom or bust cycle. But, I think if we do get a boom come through – which happens now and again – there may not be enough tradesmen to go around. I don’t think we have enough apprentices being trained up at the moment.
We have an apprentice, and we’ve had apprentices, probably, for the last 15 years; but, I don’t think the industry as a whole are training enough apprentices. The MBA and the HIA both have group apprenticeships, which are helping a bit. But I think there should be a bit more emphasis on builders themselves actually training up more tradesmen.”
Employing their own longstanding carpenters has certainly been a benefit for Raymond Vincent Homes, as it guarantees the quality of the workmanship each project will receive – especially regarding the complex nature of the houses they build. “The tradesmen are out there trying to get the job done in a set amount of time to make a dollar they’re going to be paid anyway. So, we have instruction that our carpenters do the job right and we don’t have to worry about coming back. The subcontract tradesmen that we use, we have established over time. Some of our tradesman have worked with us for over 30 years.”
After his past experiences with upsizing, Vincent’s ongoing aim is to keep the company reasonably small in order to ensure the satisfaction of the clients, the staff, and the industry partners of Vincent Raymond Homes. “The company should focus on providing the clients with the house that they want, not the house that you want to give them; do that at the price, and try to maintain good relationships with your clients at all costs. Also maintain good relationships with your industry suppliers.
We’re fortunate that a lot of our suppliers support our company with assistance in advertising initiatives, and that only comes about by having good relationships with your suppliers. I think you need to be happy with what you’re doing, and happy with the products you’re producing. Your staff is very important. You need to look after your staff. Our staff don’t leave. Our problem is not losing staff; it’s more paying them for long service. So, we’re very serious about looking after our staff and making working conditions the best we can. We always try and do the best we can as far as the standard of work on our jobs is. We don’t take any shortcuts. We always comply with all of the regulations, and we take a lot of pride in what we produce.”