Property investment and property development have been the main commercial pursuits of John Trettel, Sam Castelli and Charlie Bontempo since they left United Group.
While their former business partner, John Rubino, is focused on being full-time executive chairman of Monadelphous Group, the others have targeted different parts of the property market.
Their property activities have also provided an opportunity for family members to move into the business scene.
John Trettel, who established Swanline Developments in 1998, has already left his mark on Perth’s skyline.
Swanline’s best-known develop-ment is the luxury apartment building at 70 Mount Street in West Perth, built for more than $20 million.
Mr Trettel bought the penthouse apartment in 2001 and has recently put it on the market for a reported $8 million, which would set a record in Perth.
The four-bedroom penthouse has more than 500 square metres of living space – making it bigger than most suburban houses – plus secure parking for six cars and a private roof garden with a spa pool.
Swanline’s other property projects have included the refurbishment and expansion of the art deco Bellevue Mansions apartment building in West Perth and a showroom development in Osborne Park.
Mr Trettel now takes a part-time approach to the business, spending much of his time on his Ferraris and his motorbikes.
The company is run by Jim Harris, the former business development manager at United Constructions, while Mr Trettel’s oldest son, Dean, is also involved in the business.
Mr Trettel said his two other boys have focused on study and sporting pursuits but would be able to join the business when they were ready.
“It’s a vehicle for the kids to grow into if they want it,” he said.
Mr Harris said Swanline was best known for its property activities but was really a diversified investment company.
As well as investing in the stockmarket, Swanline also invests selectively in start-up companies.
“The equity investments are mainly with people that we know,” Mr Harris said.
Mr Castelli has acquired an extensive portfolio of properties, with a leaning towards industrial properties in the suburb of Myaree.
Castelli Group has also bought a couple of properties in the South West, including Mount Shadforth Estate, the luxury winery and lodge developed by jailed lawyer Rohan Skea.
The group’s biggest development was the Market Equity office building at 1292 Hay Street, West Perth, sold for $9.6 million last year.
Castelli Group was involved in most aspects of the development, from buying the land to building, leasing and then selling the property.
Mr Castelli said he has structured the group so that his children each have an independent company to run.
MontCastle Realty, which will be run by his daughter Sara, handles the buying, leasing, selling and managing of properties, and allows Castelli Group to avoid having to pay commissions and management fees to other agents.
Atlantis Investments, a building company run by his son, Adam, is an integral part of the group’s property activities.
The third company has a very different focus. Advanced Energy Resources – which will be activated when his younger son Luca completes his university studies – has been set up to pursue opportunities in alternative energy.
Mr Castelli said he enjoyed being able to pass on his knowledge to his children.
“It’s a pleasure to work with them and help them build the business,” he told WA Business News
“That’s my biggest success.”
Mr Castelli said this was a continuation of his work at United, where he enjoyed working with the staff and passing on his knowledge of the construction industry.
Mr Bontempo has been dubbed the ‘king of King Street’ after acquiring a string of properties in the inner-city cafe and fashion precinct.
His wife Anne is active in running shops in King Street while Charlie enjoys spending time on his farm at Harvey.
He also enjoys providing advice and acting as a mentor to some younger business people.
“I like to be able to pass on some of my experience and help people,” Mr Bontempo said.
For instance, he works with Novacoat managing director Rob Franco, and is a minority shareholder in the company.