There’s something very Australian about the Clarendon Homes story.
From its humble beginnings where founder Peter Campbell built his first home, to a company that has now provided homes for more than 30,000 Australian families, it epitomises the ‘have a go’ ethos that our country is built on.
Most recently, this has resulted in the decision by Clarendon Homes to adopt the Australian Made logo, the first volume builder to do so.
“For me, there is a sense of pride in using the Australian Made logo,” says Peter. “It shows we are doing our bit for the economy as well as maintaining and improving lifestyles for the communities we serve.”
But just how far Peter would be able to take the business was far from clear at the start of the journey more than 43 years ago.
When Peter was made redundant from his job as a draftsman at an engineering firm in the 1970s, the country was at a turning point.
In 1975, the average Australian full time wage was $7,600 per annum and the median price for a house in Sydney was less than $35,000. More and more Baby Boomers were starting their families and looking for an idyllic life in the suburbs.
Peter had been working as a window salesman by day but was taking on drafting work by night when, in 1978, he was asked to work on a residential project.
“It really was just a subsistence business,” he says. “I had an aptitude for drawing houses, and then one day, I built a house. I drew up a house, built it and sold it!
“While I didn’t really make any money out of it, I thought I could be onto something.”
That first home was a real learning curve for the young draftsman, who found the trades as he needed them.“I found a concreter and he put in the footings,” says Peter. “Then I found a bricklayer. I just made it up as I went along. There were bricklayers building a house up the road from where my land was, and I asked them if they wanted to do the bricklaying. I didn’t have a clue what the rates should be, but they told me what they wanted.”
A few renovations and a couple more new houses followed. Peter hired a site supervisor, and then another, before moving his team from a room in his home into an office at the back of a real estate agent’s in Penrith. Business grew steadily throughout the 80s. When the recession hit in 1987, while other builders struggled, Clarendon’s growth surged ahead.
“One of the things that was a blessing was being based in Penrith,” says Peter. “Penrith was growing exponentially at that time. Even though Australia had two recessions in the 80s, I didn’t realise it because there was so much work going on in (that part of Sydney).
“But in the early 80s I stopped doing renovations and alterations, and concentrated purely on building new houses.”
By 1993, Clarendon had a turnover of more than $60 million. The following year, that grew to $115 million and Clarendon was the top building group in Sydney, constructing 250 homes a year.
Peter sold Clarendon in 2004 and took a break from residential building. But circumstances intervened and, when the opportunity came up in 2012 to buy the business back, Peter returned to what he knew best - building quality homes for Australians.
Clarendon Homes has gone from strength to strength since then.
Today, Clarendon has more than 80 homes on display across NSW and Queensland and the name has become synonymous with quality homes ideally suited to the Australian lifestyle and climate.
The business has amassed enough awards over this time to fill several shelves, with recognition from industry peers at the Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry Association, among others.
With more than 350 staff across NSW and Queensland, chief operating officer Mathew Campbell says their teams are more like family than staff.
“Some of our trades have been with us from the beginning and now we are seeing their children taking control of those businesses,” he says. “We have a multicultural trade base and businesses we have partnered with that are neighbours, friends and family of many of the people we deal with.”
Keeping the business in Australian hands and on Australian shores has allowed Clarendon to focus on its core business - building beautiful houses.
“Being Australian owned allows us to be more agile, flexible and responsive to the market and to our customers,” Mathew says. “We don’t have overseas shareholders dictating what type of display homes we put to market or controlling our design process in any way.”
He says it is an approach that works best for the families who choose Clarendon too.
“Instead of spending time in board meetings, completing reports and all the things that come with overseas ownership, we use this time to work out how we can add more value for our customers and ensure that everything we do suits local conditions,” Mathew says. “We seek to deliver the best quality product through innovation and work closely with our partners so that we can be the masters of our own destiny.”
Clarendon General Manager Darren Ingram says while the variety of homes on offer now ranges from granny flats through to ranch-style homes and luxury one and two-storey urban residences, the emphasis on quality control is a constant.
“Quality is incredibly important to us,” Darren says. “In order to maintain that quality, we do 11 quality control checks throughout the build process. This rigorous quality control gives us the confidence to offer a lifetime guarantee to our customers.
“We guide our customers from the beginning, from choosing the design that they want, through the selection process so that they have everything they need to personalise their home.”
At the end of the day, people want to come home to a place they really love, that serves them well now, and into the future. Clarendon Homes have maintained their position in the market with many families returning to the business when they’re ready to build their second, third or even fourth home.
“At Clarendon, we don’t compromise on quality, whether that’s in regard to our materials, or our business partnerships,” says Mathew.
That’s why Australian Made was perfect for us. We made the decision to partner with Australian Made knowing it is a trusted and recognisable brand.
“Trust and credibility play a very important role in our customers’ decision to build with us.”
Whether you are looking to build a new home, or planning a knock-down rebuild of your existing home, we have Sales Consultants located in all of our Display Homes and Sales Offices, from the South Coast to Newcastle, that can provide you with expert advice.
Visit clarendon.com.au for a full list of locations and to make an enquiry or call us on 13 63 93.