Having developed an enviable reputation within the Australian construction industry, Simonds Group is the second-largest detached homebuilder in Victoria, with operations in Queensland, South Australia, and New South Wales. Rhett Simonds, Executive Chair and David McKeown, CEO, lay out the company’s firm foundations for success.
DELIVERING HOME COMFORT
“We believe that your home is the celebration of the way you choose to live.”
The opening words of Simonds Group (Simonds) Executive Chair, Rhett Simonds, perfectly encapsulate how, for almost 75 years, the company has expertly developed an enviable reputation for constructing Australia’s best homes.
As a leading builder over the last seven decades, Simonds understands the way Australians like to live, work, and entertain in their homes. With this learned knowledge and comprehensive expertise, the company now offers 129 single and double-storey floor plans that speak to specific lifestyles and suit blocks of land in all different shapes and sizes.
Each home constructed by Simonds is backed by its industry-leading Lifetime Structural Guarantee, as the company’s commitment to service lasts long after it has handed over the keys.
“The building of homes is a very exciting industry to be involved in with great opportunities in front of us, especially coming off the back of a difficult period after the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions,” recalls Rhett.
Through constant, relentless analysis of the industry, government rules and regulations, staff and key personnel, supplier and contractor partnerships, strong financial management, and external stakeholder relations, Simonds manages to stay ahead of the curve and in front of its direct competition.
Despite extraordinary adversity, businesses like Simonds have flourished through these difficult times to position themselves to take full advantage of the strong construction market that is now returning both globally and across Australia.
Simonds is a volume builder with a national footprint across the nation, delivering a vast array of houses per annum to thousands of customers, all wanting to achieve the great Australian dream of home ownership.
“We offer a diverse range of products for different markets, from first-time buyers through to multi-million-dollar homes,” he adds.
Simonds’ houses are cleverly designed with more options for naturally liveable spaces, with a range of open-plan living options for more family moments together.
A HOUSEHOLD NAME
Today, Simonds remains virtually unmatched in terms of its enduring longevity within the colossal construction landscape.
“We have been building homes in Australia for three quarters of a century and counting. Simonds is the only volume builder that is currently ASX listed, meaning we are transparent with both our financials and performance,” Rhett elaborates.
Added to the admirable industry prowess that has been achieved, a major factor in securing the company’s carefully curated legacy is the fact that the Simonds family is still the major shareholder.
“Our build speed, product designs, and customer-centric focus are all valuable qualities that we pride ourselves on and differentiate us from others in the market,” he enthuses.
Having been founded by his grandfather, it was a business and industry that Rhett always knew he wanted to go into.
“My father followed my grandfather into the business, and I followed my father; it was all I ever wanted to do. My focus and skillset coming into the business were more targeted towards the strategic and professional attributes of running a company, because my father and grandfather already had the construction smarts.”
Though Rhett is also a Director and investor in several technology and finance-related businesses, he has maintained a strong focus on the property and construction sector, where he sits on a number of private company boards and executive management teams.
PORTER DAVIS INITIATIVE
In addition to providing great quality outcomes for the many thousands of retail customers that Simonds deals with each year, the company is also very proud of the work it has recently been undertaking in support of former Porter Davis customers.
A significant Australian volume builder, Porter Davis liquidated in March 2023, leaving approximately 1,600 customers in limbo. Simonds has compassionately stepped in as a panel builder for the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority, and to date has assisted around 400 customers impacted by this dramatic collapse.
Whilst some former customers have incurred significant out-of-pocket costs in getting back on their build journey, most of those supported by Simonds will not incur any additional costs to complete their home beyond their contract commitment.
This has been made possible due to Simonds’ scale and buying power, and will be delivered to homes built to the exact specification and quality promised by Porter Davis.
“In addition to disrupting the domestic building insurance segment by bringing scale-based solutions to a fragmented market, there have been many additional benefits delivered through this project,” David McKeown, CEO, tells us.
“These include the employment of former Porter Davis staff and tradespeople, as well as providing reassurance to residential construction customers at a time when the collapse severely impacted confidence in builder viability,” McKeown explains.
THE POWER OF PEOPLE
Partners and suppliers are absolutely critical to the running of Simonds’ business.
“Having been ingrained in the business for so long, we have many supply chain relationships that have been in place for 30, 40, and even 50+ years. It is through the management of these relationships that Simonds finds itself in a good position from a supply chain and logistics perspective,” Rhett sets out.
“We have the best team in the industry, from senior management through to operational and procedural staff. Everyone is encouraged and empowered at Simonds to execute their role to the best of their ability, knowing that extra support and resources are always available from senior management and above,” he acclaims.
In this way, employee empowerment is a big part of Simonds’ work culture. Similarly, the company seeks to be an active supporter of the communities in which it operates, and as such, it has a long and proud history of charitable contributions and investment.
Simonds’ involvement in this area spans a broad spectrum, from smaller, community-based initiatives such as blood donation drives and community sports, to larger national programmes such as flood relief, charitable auctions of houses, cancer research, and mental health initiatives.
Elsewhere, Chain Reaction is a long-distance event for senior executives with a passion for cycling to raise money for sick children.
Currently, Simonds has two teams of riders training for the Chain Reaction charity ride, which involves each cyclist completing a 1,000-kilometre ride over a seven-day period in support of Monash Children’s Hospital and Starlight Children’s Foundation.
LAUNCHING A NEW LEGACY
One of the key priorities at Simonds for the next 12 months is to consistently deliver on the scheduled delivery of 2,500 new homes per year.
“We are focused on ensuring that the homes we deliver are built to the highest standard and creating a memorable customer experience throughout the homebuilding journey, while also leaving staff empowered and satisfied around the process of helping everyday people achieve the great Australian dream of home ownership,” Rhett affirms.
“With 2024 being our 75th anniversary, we are reflecting on the significant role Simonds has played in not only shaping housing in Australia, but also transforming the lives of the people that fill those spaces to make them a home,” McKeown adds.
Throughout 2024, the company will be engaging in a series of activities to not only celebrate this remarkable milestone but also launch the next chapter of the Simonds story.