By Richard Evans – South Australian Business Journal 30/07/2019
Family is the buzzword at an Adelaide commercial property services practice set to ramp up its challenge against the bigger firms in town after adding two more equity partners to its roster.
The introduction to the McGees Property boardroom this month of South Australia property veterans Craig Feely and Andrew Carapetis increases its director count from four to six said managing director Simon Lambert.
“Craig and Andrew both joined us about 18 months ago. The board appointments are unrelated and they will bring equity into the company. It’s part of a market growth story we have been working on for a while,” Mr Lambert said.
Familiarity was a huge bonus he said when it came to taking on the new heavyweights but due diligence still had to be done.
“I have known Craig all his career. This is part of the rollout of growth, you know these guys but you want to live with them first.”
Continued growth is a prerequisite in order to fight for market share against major agencies such as CBRE and Knight Frank, he said.
“We are SA’s largest privately owned full services firm and we need to continue our growth. We do compete against the majors, not always in size, but in certain areas. Craig came with significant retail experience from (previous employer) Intrepid Property. It’s a confirmation we are going down the right path.”
“This is a family business where people are happy to stay and work, we have staff here who have worked through different generations.”
The staff additions, which cement a total of 36 employees, come at a time of some SA market uncertainty.
The current state of the SA commercial property market is intriguing Mr Lambert said, with SA not suffering from the historic disconnect with Melbourne and Sydney that happens when the country’s busiest cities hit a boom and bust cycle.
“The fundamentals of SA are quite good. We are risk averse, we are not bullish in the way Western Australia was in the mining boom. We are just going along the same (steady) line.”
SA is, as ever, a constant he said “There are a succession of things that have affected SA growth. Stamp duty didn’t get us going, then federal election comes along. We take a cautious view here but the market has been good.”
Mr Feely says the state retail market offers hope despite slow market conditions.
“Rents are stagnant, there’s not a lot of growth out there but we are getting deals done,” he said with recent transactions including tenancy deals at St Clair Village shopping centre, Gawler Park Homemaker Central and Jetty Road, Glenelg.
Mr feely – the son of well known property developer Leon Feely – brings a dab of local recreation colour and interest also. For up to 20 hours a week in competition time he retreats to a shed in his St Peters back garden he said.
“I’m addicted to cycling, I train there. I’ve been national age champion and have done the three peaks race (in Victoria) five times,” the vastly impressive eight hours 19 minutes his best time.
Andrew Carapetis meanwhile, no fan of lycra, comes with 30 years property experience, the bulk at mid range Adelaide outfit Commercial SA.
Focusing on property and facilities management – he has 15 staff reporting to him – the market is difficult right now but is offering work he said. “Interest rates are low but it’s still tough out there,” he said but is managing several top end properties including 108 North Terrace, a property sold by Dexus in 2016 for $86 million and within which his team is carrying out numerous upgrades and environmental boosts on top of ongoing facilities management.