Posted on 29 Jul 2019, 12:43 p.m.
The bright lights of Melbourne lured Abercromby’s director Andrew Harlock – then a promising footballer – from the country in the 1970s. Initially, cars were his calling, but soon property paired up with that passion for motoring.
What brought you to Melbourne after you finished school in Geelong?
I got an offer to come up to Melbourne to train with the Fitzroy Football Club. People who played football then had to have a job as well. I saw that Lanes Motors was looking for sales trainees, so I applied for that role. There were 250 applications and I got the job.
Did you continue with football?
When I got the job, I didn’t finish work early enough to go to training. As it turned out, I loved my footy, but I wasn’t passionate enough about it to give up a career.
Describe your path from cars to property.
When it came to cars, the training program then was really about getting to know the product, so I learnt the length and width of every car, everything about engine capacity. After three years as a trainee, I went into sales and I sold for seven years. I had 10 years at Lanes and then I left and went to real estate agency Bennison Mackinnon.
What was real estate like then?
We had two-way radios in our cars. People would come to open for inspections having seen a little sketch in the paper. People are so much more informed now. In the old days, if you had five houses open at a weekend, you could have 50 to 80 people through that you had to call.
What is the biggest difference between working in real estate versus cars?
The greatest difference is the highs and lows. In cars, you’d have your ups and downs but not anywhere near the extremes you have in real estate. With cars, you got a salary, you drove the car – you were always driving the Mercedes – and the commission from the sale. In real estate, if you missed the listing, you’d get nothing.
But the good times in real estate are very good, aren’t they?
Yes, but some people can handle the downs better than others. It’s a rejection business but it’s how you handle it.
So, it comes down to personality?
Yes, a little. I think Abercromby’s has a good range of personalities and that’s important. There’s a lot more of the strategy now in real estate than in the past. You need a balanced mix of personalities in your team. My role is now more to look at our culture and how we work together.
What is your life like outside work?
We just bought a place up near Euroa, at Creightons Creek. I had always said I’d love to get something in the country. My wife and I saw the place and we both fell in love with it.
And you have a place in the city?
We actually just sold our house in March. We want to spend more time up at the farm. We know where the market is, and we could have waited but we looked at it like we’d be putting our lives on hold. We’re renting in Hawthorn and I walk our big, black Labrador Archie every morning for eight kilometres around Kooyong Park and Kevin Bartlett Reserve.
And do you still drive a Mercedes?
Yes, a station wagon – we almost deliberately bought it for the dog. My wife says he and I are co-dependent on each other.
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