Modest beginnings are almost a prerequisite for self-made businesses. First, they adhere to the age-old idiom of having to start somewhere. Then, they find themselves elsewhere. If they’re as lucky as Sheargold Group, they will eventually be almost everywhere.
Founder Roy Sheargold began his real estate career in 1959, starting with terrace renovation. By 1963, he had founded Sheargold Group, and soon advanced to working on small-scale residential subdivisions.
The organic growth only continued from here until, bankrolled partially by financial backing from connections Sheargold established in the grocery business. The group next added apartment buildings and shopping centres to their repertoire, and by the 1980s, they were investing and managing industrial, residential and commercial property.
According to managing director Michael Sheargold, some things have never changed. The company still concentrates primarily on residential property development, mainly land subdivisions – though not exclusively.
“We’re currently expanding our portfolio and making new acquisitions, primarily a 220 hectare site with Part 3A concept approval in Tea Gardens, NSW ” said Mr. Sheargold, “as well as retaining a portion of our own residential projects that we develop. ”
One key issue they must tend to is retaining the quality and livability of those projects. While sustainability is certainly important to the company, they treat it as a given rather than an overtly pressing concern.
“If you start to process what makes a project or subdivision more sustainable,” explains Mr Sheargold, “you find that it’s just good design rather than a specific plan. Usually, it’s the best thing for the project in any case. ” He adds that the company’s “rigorous planning” and “uncompromising attention to detail” generally yields sustainable results anyways.
With that perenially poignant problem dealt with, Sheargold Group is free to attend to their large-scale projects, of which there are currently many.
“We’ve got several new projects in various stages of development,” reveals Mr Sheargold. “HillTop, Figtree is a residential subdivision we’ve just completed, and we’re also commencing a townhouse development there.”
Another project in the works is Vista Park, a subdivision that will comprise a diverse range of over 400 dwellings, including semi-rural lots and residential lots as well as terrace townhouses.
While these projects sounds simple enough on the surface, that does not mean they will stray away from the more complex assignments available.
“The most challenging would have been our Cordeaux Heights project,” said Mr Sheargold. “It was a fifteen-year project completed in the late nineties, and it really put our company on the map. It was 1100 lots, two schools, and lots of park and reserves; plus, we had to push it along through the credit crunch of the late 1980s.”
With that much to contend with at once, it’s easy to deduce how the company developed the skill for multi-facet efficiency that has garnered business and even UDIA recognition.
“One achievement we’re proud of,” states Mr Sheargold, “is the certification of the Ridge Precinct in Vista Park as an envirodevelopment site. It’s effectively a rating tool for residential subdivisions that makes it easier to recognize environmentally sustainable projects. There are six categories – ecosystems, materials, waste, energy, water, and community – and we’re the first project in New South Wales to achieve full certification in all six.”
Thanks to enjoying and maintaining a series of connections throughout the industry, Sheargold Group has gained a sense of what is valued most in the field.
“In terms of the associations,” says Mr Sheargold, “there’s several key areas we really do value, including networking with your peers and expanding your horizons. As someone who was running an organization at a relatively young age, I had the opportunity to be mentored by senior members of the industry, to whom I was introduced through those associations.”
Despite a shining resume and equally bright future, there are still some obstacles in the industry that Sheargold Group and others must overcome. The Planning Act currently requires “a myriad of reports” before land can be approved for re-zoning or any other changes, which are often repeated at the development application stage.
“There’s lots of uncertainty around infrastructure charges and planning regulations at the moment,” said Mr Sheargold. “The regulations currently imposed are a real constraint on the supply of lots, and there needs to be a streamlined process.”