Colin Lock, Professionals Real Estate

Home is where the heart is

Colin Lock is the owner and managing director of Professionals in Christchurch. There are three arms to Professionals’ business: residential sales, property management, and subdivision marketing, with roles distributed among the 30 staff.

Colin has spent the last 22 years in the real estate industry, starting out as a rookie with Professionals’ original owner, selling more than $80 million of real estate in that time.

“The previous owner and I started discussing succession a few years ago,” he says. “We went through the process for about four years, at which time I purchased 60 percent of the business. In 2013, I finally took over completely securing the final 40 percent shareholding.”

While Colin is CEO of the company, he also looks after Professionals’ subdivision marketing, selling around 200 sections each year.

“We sell bare land to a whole range of customers – earthquake refugees, building companies and we also sell direct. One of our key customers is CDL Land, a major property developer based in Auckland.

“Currently on the books is a subdivision in Marshlands totaling 835 sections. Over the last 18 months we have released 280 of those sections and demand is high. Just last week we released 42 sections and there were 72 expressions of interest for them. There is definitely an air of positivity in Christchurch.”

That couldn’t be said back in 2011, when the earthquakes devastated parts of Christchurch, hitting real estate sales hard. Colin says the earthquakes were significant events, impacting his bottom line and balance sheet.

“We lost nearly 300 homes out of the 1000 in our rental portfolio and the impact was also felt in our business on a personal level. Everyone got very fatigued and many were traumatised. They were challenging times – we had two weeks without water, staff were bringing their children to work, and sales staff were redeployed inspecting homes – it took a lot of working through.”

Colin set up an inbound call centre in the office to streamline the communication process. “It meant we could identify problems from tenants and find solutions, leaving property managers free to take care of business. The earthquake events proved you don’t know how strong you are until strong is your only option.”

Colin has been working with Moore Stephens Markhams Christchurch director Belinda Canton since he started with Professionals two decades ago. He says Belinda is “refreshingly different” and is able to see “both sides of the coin”.

Belinda handles Professionals’ annual accounts and has regular updates with Colin. But it was a seminar held by Moore Stephens Markhams in partnership with the BNZ that prompted Colin to make changes in his business.

“The seminar was on change management and that started a process in my own business, which has resulted in a cultural shift and higher, more positive employee engagement. It was a very valuable experience.”

When he is not selling property, Colin can be found on the water, racing his keel boat in sailing competitions.

Published spring 2017

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