A billion-dollar brand can take a generation to build; and yet, it can be lost in a single day. Being at the helm of such a brand is a big responsibility, and one that Nando Pellicano, Managing Director of Pellicano, does not take lightly.
Originally a humble bricklaying business, the Pellicano company was founded in 1967 by Italian migrants – Nando’s father and uncle. Today, their sons stand at the helm of the now vertically integrated and diversified property company. Spanning commercial, industrial, hotel, retail and residential holdings in Victoria and Queensland, Pellicano Group are both the developers and builders, a sign of their ongoing commitment to quality and accountability to their clients. Since the year 2000 they’ve completed in excess of $2.7 billion in developments and in just two generations grown a brand that stands for trust and quality, evident in their inclusion on the BRW Rich List alongside the Schwartz, Fairfax and Myer families.
Joining Ironfish CEO Joseph Chou last week as part of our ‘Interview with the CEO’ series of events, Mr Pellicano shared with the 100-strong crowd his story of growing up with the Pellicano family’s entrepreneurial values, what it takes to stand at the helm of a multi-generational, billion-dollar family brand and how he created his own financial freedom through multiple income streams.
A commitment to family values
Nando Pellicano grew up watching his father and uncle work hard to grow the Pellicano brand – a work ethic they passed on to their sons. Reflecting on this, Nando recalled a time he worked on the factory floors with his fellow Pellicano Managing Directors.
“From a young age, I used to sweep factory floors alongside my brother and cousins to earn some pocket money. After a while, we were promoted to landscapers, and would work on the sites together. Our fathers taught us to work hard for our money, and we all grew up on that journey together. We have a very strong bond, like brothers. Over a period of 10 years where we took leadership in the family business, that’s been so important.”
The pressure to maintain a 50 year reputation
Having seen their fathers work hard to grow the Pellicano business, taking on a leadership role within the company meant shouldering the reputation they had built over a lifetime, and the commitments made to their customers.
Today, Nando has made that responsibility his own, finding new meaning in the word.
“We’re a product-based business. We create and develop everything ourselves, so there’s an expectation from our customers for a certain level of quality. Number one for us is consistency and quality of the product. Our reputation is our business and it’s how well we uphold our promises to customers, so if you lose that the rest just falls apart. It takes a generation to build a brand and a day to lose it. You are only as good as your last project!”
A strong partnership
The Pellicano commitment to quality and delivering on their promises to customers are values shared by the Ironfish team. These synergies have led to a successful partnership between Pellicano and Ironfish, most recently with a joint venture project in the suburb of Wynnum West, 15km east of Brisbane.
“From our point of view, our organisations complement each other very well. The opportunity came up, and I said to Grant (Ironfish Director of Property), this is the one.
Arbor Park is a townhome project, and the reason we like this opportunity is it’s in a built-up area that’s close to the bayside in Brisbane. The land we purchased was owned by the State Government so it was a complex deal, but we were confident that because of what we paid for the land, we could deliver a top-quality product at an affordable price. An opportunity to create a master-designed new product in a location like this, close to the shopping centre, we liked everything about it. It’s a project we’re really excited about working with Ironfish on.”
Despite coming from a highly successful family, featured on the BRW Rich List, Nando was encouraged by his father to work hard to build his own personal wealth.
“There was never a point in time I felt rich. I must have been 13 years old when my father said ‘look – if you’re only relying on your wage there’s a limited capacity to what you can earn. There are only so many hours in the day and so many days in a week. You’ll reach that capacity – you’ll have a good life, but that’ll be it. If you want to be entrepreneurial and have multiple income streams, whether you’re at work or sitting on the beach sipping a pina colada, you’ll have revenue coming in regardless.’
“That really stuck with me, and it’s guided my own wealth creation. I’ve tried to diversify my property assets, whether it’s location, property type or sectors. It’s rare that all sectors are in a slow period, so the revenue becomes like taps that turn on and off depending on what’s happening in the market.”
Finding his own financial freedom
Nando doesn’t like to look at the numbers when measuring his financial freedom. For him, it’s not about being tied down by money, but using it as a vehicle to follow your passions.
“There are rich people who are very unhappy, and people who aren’t what you’d call wealthy but are very happy with their lives. If you tie your happiness to a financial number, you’ll always be chasing your tail.”
“To me, financial freedom means doing what I love. I love the property industry and what we do at Pellicano. I love our team; everyone’s motivated and striving to do better. I love that we’re a product-based business. We get a vacant piece of land, we master plan it, we build it well then when it’s finished you get to see people living there, working there, enjoying their time there with their family.”
His advice to others
Nando’s intimate knowledge of the property industry, strong work ethic, and integrity has underpinned much of his personal success, as well as the success of the Pellicano brand today.
Opening the floor up to questions from the room of 100 attendees, one jumped at the opportunity to ask the successful business man and property investor: ‘what would be your advice to someone just starting out?’
“You need to be motivated and driven, but find something that you’re passionate about and enjoy doing. Be flexible and dynamic, so you always have the ability to adapt quickly and make a move when you see an opportunity.
“Manage your debt and cashflow carefully. If you don’t have enough equity yet, it might be better to let that opportunity pass you by, and hold out for the next one.
“Prior to having kids, I was very driven with the work. I was working massive hours. Make time for your family and children. As I get older, I work smarter, and try to have a more balanced life – that just comes with experience and age.”
Happy, healthy and wealthy
At Ironfish, we believe that wealth forms part of the universal formula for happiness (along with health and love).
Whether you create wealth or inherit wealth, whether you aspire to billions, millions, or just a bit of luxury in life – it’s important to know how to manage your money and grow your wealth effectively.
Events such as these are part of helping our customers to open up the realm of possibilities and learn more about wealth building from people who have done it before.
We thank Nando Pellicano for generously sharing his time and experiences with our investors.