ALMOST three years into his role as CEO of Village Building Company, Travis Doherty says he’s proud to lead a company that’s been in Canberra since 1988 and excited about the future of Canberra, “a place I am happy to call home”.
“As a northern Victorian country boy, former accountant and banker, not a builder, planner nor a Canberran, it’s fair to say I was an unusual choice for the CEO job,” he says.
“But it became obvious in my first meeting with founding CEO Bob Winnel that there is more to Village than just ‘bricks and mortar’.
“A strong social conscience and belief in the inherent human and economic value of home ownership have been at the heart of the Village Building Company since it was founded by Bob Winnel back in 1988.
“And this remains the essence of Village as we work to modernise the business and respond to new and developing customer needs and lifestyles.
“Practically speaking, this is about creating places of value that connect people with their communities, building homes where people live and love, grow, entertain and celebrate life.”
He says the company’s 30th year campaign is about thanking the Canberra community for its support in the past and setting the scene for Village in the future.
“For us, the emphasis is on building foundations that stand the test of time, creating connections that grow with families and future generations,” he says.
“For our clients, whatever their lifestyle or life stage, we want to create a place where they feel safe; a place they can proudly call home.”
He says that in a “milestone year”, some things stand out:
- Good things come to those who wait – in the property sector you have to be patient but one of our developments has pushed the business to new levels. South Jerrabomberra has faced almost every issue a development could face over the past 16 years.
In 2016, we had to go back to the drawing board, rescind sales contracts and make some fundamental changes to the original development plan to get it approved.
So, it was extremely satisfying to finally get a DA in August, 2018, and commence land sales in November. We were particularly pleased to be able to offer those people who had purchased in the original subdivision the pre-release opportunity to buy into the new, restructured South Jerrabomberra. The first stage of South Jerrabomberra was launched to the public in late November.
- Community engagement is not a box ticking exercise – we learnt some important lessons about the value of community engagement in the pre-DA stage of the development of the former AFP training site in Weston.
Working with the Weston Creek Community Council in the initial stage of community engagement, the process identified some key concerns of the local community that have allowed us to amend draft plans accordingly.
- Self-awareness is a powerful tool – we took the opportunity in our 30th year in business to host a round of meetings with a range of our stakeholders – government, suppliers, partners and investors.
We explored perceptions of the market, issues, challenges and opportunities and their perceptions of us.
The feedback was mostly good but all very informative. We won’t wait another 30 years to do the next round of stakeholder meetings.
- Cautious optimism – The state of the property market is the subject of daily commentary – mostly on the negative side of the argument.
We remain optimistic about our position having a diversified portfolio across the country but also importantly within the ACT market, being one of only three states to record an increase in property values over the past 12 months.
What’s relevant now, however, is the market that lies ahead and with so much uncertainty despite the sound ACT market fundamentals, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going to happen.