23 year old duo turn over $30m

Monday 11 September 2017

Two Christchurch best mates have made a profitable move from trading property to creating multi-dwelling developments – and now they are telling their story.

Williams Corporation co-director Matthew Horncastle said they are taking a punt with everything they own on the fact that Christchurch is going to be a great city.

He and his co-director, Blair Chappell, are both just 23 years old, but they are on track to turn over more than $30 million in developments this financial year.

They currently have eight building sites on the go with 100 dwellings in various stages between applying for consent and completely finished.

All this with just two staff members – their mums.

But family has an important role to play in the story of Williams Corp, and not only because Horncastle and Chappell’s mums are their only employees.

Both grew up in families where a passion for property was taken for granted.

For Horncastle, the family business is home-building company Horncastle Homes, while Chappell’s father is a highly experienced local real estate agent.

“I come from a family where literally everyone is in property,” said Horncastle. “And Blair grew up sitting in the back of a car all weekend looking at properties.”

Both ended up going into the construction business, which is where they met, became friends and ended up going into business together with an initial focus on fencing and decking.

They also took on some trading, renovating older homes and reselling them.

But the market was flat and margins were tight – even a small cost overrun would quickly soak up their profits.

So, in 2014, the pair formed Williams Corporation and completed six standalone houses in 2015 and one multi-unit dwelling in Woolston.

After a burst of growth, the business expanded too quickly which led them to stop, regroup and think about their strengths.

The upshot was they decided to target very specific types of development: buying land where they can construct between 10 and 40 dwellings, as close to the city as they can afford.

Now, they are selling 10 dwellings a month and have 30 already-sold dwellings on track to be completed this year – and there is another 40 dwellings at the consent stage – all in Christchurch.

“Christchurch is extremely undervalued and all our customers are going to make money,” Horncastle said.

To read more about Horncastle and Chappell’s profitable development journey click here to get the digital issue of NZ Property Investor magazine.

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Comments from our readers

On 14 September 2017 at 6:08 pm Maxwell K said:
I have to admire young entrepreneurs like these 2. They will make many mistakes on their journey which I personally think is a great learning tool and will only make them more successful. I have a question mark over the demand of one of their developments from buyers and the location of units. No garages and a location that draws quite a few undesirables. Go for it guys and I wish you every success. Just remember what Sir Bob Jones claims that eventually property developers will go broke at least once. Get into commercial property guys is my advice just when you are ready.

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