In Conversation With: The Paragon of Property Development | Don O’Rorke, Consolidated Properties
“Get there first and do the deal” -
From billion-dollar urban renewal projects to CBD high-rise towers, Don O’Rorke has just about done it all. A proud Queenslander, Don’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident early on as he picked watermelons during summer school break, often buying whole crops that he would then on-sell to the Brisbane markets.
Following high school, Don entered the real estate sector taking up a role at Ray White Richard Ellis, which has since evolved into Ray White and CBRE respectively. With significant hands on experience thrust upon him Don was quick to learn. Of all the mantras that he took away the most prevalent and persistent has been - “Get there first and do the deal”.
His move from agent to developer came in 1980. “I observed that we were finding the tenants and we were finding the sites and then taking the package to a developer. So a small group of us decided to try one of those transactions ourselves.”
This was the birth of Consolidated Properties Group. Their inexperience regarding the development process was self-evident and inspired Don to join an established development company for 12-months. During this time, he worked concurrently with Consolidated Properties Group to develop their second project. He was just 21 years of age at the time.
As a founding member of Consolidated Properties Group, Don has successfully shaped the business over 40 years to its current $2.1 billion development pipeline. His company is responsible for some of Brisbane’s most recognisable residential and commercial buildings; from the $850 million 14-hectare urban renewal project planned for Yeerongpilly, to a 49-lot residential land subdivision located in Kingscliff, to a recently approved $250 million office tower in Fortitude Valley.
Don is devoted to instilling strong values into the business and is focused on building sound and lasting relationships with stakeholders and business partners. One such relationship is with Scott Hutchinson, chairman of Hutchinson Builders, one of Australia’s largest construction companies.
Scott and Don’s friendship started at the age of 11 at a Brisbane boarding school. While their friendship remains strong, it sits separate to their business relationship. Consolidated Properties Group operates with Hutchies as it does with every stakeholder they interact with; honestly and fairly. They have built a reputation of being relationship focused, over chasing a hard-dollar-tender.
“We have a belief that we know within reason what the price of something should be. So we’re happy to pay a dollar for a dollar’s worth of work. And we’re happy to back ourselves that we can negotiate in a very fair way without having to go to a tender market.” Don added.
“That relationship approach means we get really good service and we don’t have the angst of litigation and other adverse outcomes that can arise from the hard-dollar-tender market.”
The way Don O’Rorke conducts himself professionally has resulted in a revered and widely appreciated reputation. Many look up to him and many hold his opinion with considerable esteem. Development Ready’s Rob Langton was fortunate to sit down for an in-depth exchange with the formidable industry expert to hear about the personal and professional philosophies that led him to where he is today. You can watch the full interview here.