Setting themselves apart
Vecchio Property Group is a privately owned and operated family business that has a long and successful history in Brisbane, Queensland. Behind that success is a belief in providing quality developments that stand the test of time, says Sam Vecchio, the company’s Managing Director. Vecchio Property Group is one of Brisbane’s longest running and most successful residential property developers and construction companies. They have a small but experienced staff with many specialties, from project development to coordinating construction, all the way to marketing and sales.
While Vecchio Property Group was formed in the late ’60s by Sam’s father John, Sam himself did not get involved until later. A UQ Honours graduate of Structural Engineering, Sam ran a consultancy practice in the late ’80s and ’90s. “I then moved into development full time in the year 2000,” he says. Together, Sam and his father have completed several of the group’s largest projects, and drive the development process forward with a focus on customer satisfaction.
Being a family company has a positive effect on the way Vecchio Property Group does business, Sam says, if only because it means they have the responsibility of living up to their family name. “We have a reputation,” he explains. “My father commenced the company many years ago and he built himself up that reputation for quality, and we don’t want to let this reputation for the Vecchio Property Group slip.” That need for quality is one of the reasons the company focuses on one development at a time. “We don’t do multi-developments at once,” Sam says. “That allows us to be on site, to be the builder and the developer, which allows us to have quality control of our subcontractors. We are there all the time, full time.”
That strategy allows Vecchio a level of focus their competitors cannot compete with. And though that’s a key differential, it is only one of many. “We also try to differentiate ourselves by finding localities where we’re not building in the mainstay of other developers,” Sam says. Their current development, the Rivé Apartments in Breakfast Creek, is an example of the kind of emerging, niche areas that Vecchio likes to target. “It’s only within five kilometres of Brisbane CBD,” Sam says. ”We’re the first developer to go into this area.”
The Rivé development has a lot going for it. In addition to being close to Brisbane’s central business district, it is also within only 50 metres of the Brisbane River. “We’re able to obtain full river and city views from that development,” Sam says. Another plus: the land is adjacent to Albion Park Raceway, a precinct the Queensland government has earmarked for future retail, residential and commercial redevelopment. “At Rivé, we have a mixture of residential and retail on the ground floor to link into future development in that area. We will be the leading entry point to that redevelopment when it happens.”
Standing out from the competition can be a gruelling battle, and in that regard the Vecchio’s are seasoned veterans. More points of difference for them include the amount of hats they wear, their price, and their flexibility. “I think being the builder, developer, and owner of the development allows us to try and have a point of difference over the quality of the final handover product,” Sam says. “Secondly, because we don’t have middle players, we are able to provide a product that is comparably cheaper than our competition. That, to me, is a great point of difference. And thirdly, because we are on site, we’re able to liaise and have direct communication with purchasers. We tend to find what they actually are looking for in their purchase.” Because they have their feet and ears to the ground, Vecchio can quickly pick up what the requirements of their buyers are, and can accordingly change their designs. “We have had developments continually change designs to accommodate those kinds of requests. That’s happened over the last number of projects. So that, again, is a point of difference.”
The issue posed to Vecchio now is ‘how to attract investment’. In that, they are not unique – that challenge afflicts most property developers in Australia. “It’s currently a slow market, unfortunately, and we aren’t a multinational company either so we don’t have the resources to advertise nationally or on TV for our developments.” Where Vecchio has prospered, though, is in their relationships with individual investors – many of which are long-term ones. To maximise their investment potential, many residential apartment buyers are repeat customers from previous projects. “Other than that, the issue is getting people through to our displays, getting them on site, and from there we are comfortable that they will be happy with what they see.”
Getting people to recognise the premium quality work that Vecchio is doing is a main goal of theirs. To help with that goal, they will be opening fully furnished display units on their sites to showcase their product to customers and potential customers. Once people get a look at what Vecchio Property Group is trying to accomplish, Sam is confident that they will be impressed. “We try to do a product that people are able to live in, not just consider it for investing and renting it out,” he says. “We want people to actually be comfortable living in the complex.”
Even in the more challenging times, Vecchio makes sure to take proper care of their staff, which currently numbers somewhere between 70 and 80 people. “During both the boom times and the tougher times we really try and develop a partnership relationship with our subcontractors and with our staff. We don’t try and take advantage of them in tough conditions, and for that reason they work hard for us in boom times.” Vecchio Property Group is very much aware that it is a two way relationship between company and employee, and they always act accordingly. “That’s the approach, and we get on and we do the work to the best of our ability.”
One factor that helps keep that employee-company relationship strong is loyalty. “We have used a number of personnel for many, many years now and that shows. They’re comfortable working within our structure.” Another factor: family, and the immediacy it affords. Sam and his father John are on site full time, so if issues arise the person to talk to is right there, right away. “Nobody is going through layers and layers of management to make decisions. We work with people and act immediately.”
Moving forward, Sam sees the company growth as a continual evolvement. Every new job is a new learning experience that they can take forward and apply to the next one. For Vecchio, that next job is another project, right next to Rivé – another apartment development. “That will keep us busy for the next year or so,” Sam reports. Beyond that, the plan is to keep doing what has made them successful so far. “We have a niche in the Brisbane market, so we don’t feel any need to progress from the Brisbane area. For us, it’s just a continual tracking and finding of sites that are A-grade. We’re comfortable in what we’re achieving. We’re kicking off our next development in these tough times, so we’re very comfortable in the approach we’re providing to the public. We’re actually giving something that people want, and that’s why we’re continuing in that focus.”