Barfoot & Thompson wins EY Family Business Award

At EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 ceremony, New Zealand’s largest privately owned real estate company, Barfoot & Thompson received the Family Business Award for its extraordinary longevity and community service.

“Over 96 years we've remained steadfastly family owned. We are proud to be a family business with the third and fourth generations of our founders now working in the company. Family shapes who we are and what we do.” says Peter Thompson, Managing Director. He and his fellow Directors, Stephen Barfoot and Kiri Barfoot, are the grandsons and the granddaughter of the original owners.

“Being family run certainly has its benefits. We’re not a big corporate, so we can run our company differently. It’s easy for us to make decisions on the spot and make sure the business reflects our values.”

Despite fluctuating market cycles, economic downturns, war and changes in government regulations, the company has built the strongest market share in the Auckland region. Today, Barfoot & Thompson has 75+ branches throughout Auckland and Northland, 1,500 residential, lifestyle, rural, and commercial salespeople and 17,000 residential rental properties under management.

Over the decades, the directors have made sure that Barfoot & Thompson never stands still, with the fourth generation now starting to bring new skills into the company.  “We have evolved over time, embracing technology, diversity in hiring and innovations in the industry to become a company recognised on the international stage as the best in the world.”

In addition to the EY Family Business award, Barfoot & Thompson is the 2019 winner of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand’s Large Agency of the Year award for the eighth year running. It was also named the World’s best real estate company at the acclaimed International Property Awards in London.

Thompson says the EY Award came out of the blue. “It’s a wonderful gesture from EY, reflecting the enormous amount of work we do to give back to the community. I’m delighted for all our people. This is not about the two families, but about the diverse, driven and committed people who work for us. It’s a wonderful achievement.”

Community is one of Barfoot & Thompson’s core values. “Twenty years ago we took a stand. We realised that vendors pay a large commission and, by that stage, the company was making good money. We thought about what we could do differently to grow market share. The answer was to invest back into the community.”

The families began putting money into supporting their diverse interests. “It started out with rugby and netball. Today, we support everything from sports to arts to cultural events across Auckland and Northland.”

Since 2003, the company has been a sponsor of the Starship Foundation, raising an incredible $4.5 million for New Zealand’s national children’s hospital. “It’s not just about giving money,” says Thompson. “Our people go along to put on free coffee for all the doctors and nurses, and clap them as they go in and out of work.”

He says community work helps with both recruiting the right people and attracting new vendors. “People know that, by coming to us, they’re helping to give back to the community.”

Asked about the secret of the company’s longevity, Thompson says it’s pretty simple: “Instead of the families taking money out, we keep putting money aside to shore up the company. We own about 80% of the buildings we work out of, so we’re financially very sound. That’s important. It gives security to the people that work for us and it’s allowed us to make sure we can keep giving back.”