16/11/2004 - 21:00

Fini unveils his vision to reality

16/11/2004 - 21:00

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Tony Fini is renowned for his role in establishing one of Western Australia’s most successful property developers, the Fini Group. Now he’s turning his attention to a tourism project in Gingin as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

Tony Fini is renowned for his role in establishing one of Western Australia’s most successful property developers, the Fini Group. Now he’s turning his attention to a tourism project in Gingin as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

A lot of Tony Fini’s ideas have been met with scepticism from those around him yet time and time again he has managed to pick the trend and be in the prime spot to reap the rewards.

It is his trend picking, rather than trend setting, which helped grow his company, Fini Group into one of Perth’s biggest property developers.

Mr Fini sold the company to Mirvac in 2001. The company is called the Mirvac Fini Group and is led by Mr Fini’s son Adrian.

After more than 50 years in property Mr Fini is now turning his hand to tourism with new venture Fini Olives.

Persistence best describes his career to date.

Speaking at a WA Business News Success and Leadership Series breakfast last week Mr Fini often used the word persistence to explain how and why he has succeeded in the many endeavours he has pursued.

Leaving Italy in 1951 in his early twenties Mr Fini initially hated life in Australia but he was not about to pack up and go home. Instead, he set about building his own home in Perth.

“I found the first 18 months very difficult,” Mr Fini said.

“But it’s about persistence and things start to change and you start to integrate.

“In 1954 I bought a block in St James at East Victoria Park and built a house there. Before that house was finished I built a second house and it was better.”

Mr Fini said that while it was risky to jump into property at a young age he was used to hard work and had nothing to lose.

“It was a risk but when you are young you’ve got nothing to lose. By 1958 I was building 15 to 20 houses a year and I was doing very well,” he said.

During the credit squeeze of the 1960s Mr Fini thought of throwing in the towel but the words of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, spurred him on.

“I remembered that saying from Mussolini, if you stop you are gone,” he said.  “We had nothing to lose but to go forward and then the market started to boom.”

As Perth’s appetite for housing grew Mr Fini began boosting production to meet demand. He hired managers and foremen to help produce the 200 houses a year his business was now developing. 

But it was his trend picking ability that helped evolve the company.

“There was a shortage of land and we couldn’t buy enough blocks to build houses on so we started to do land development,” Mr Fini said.

“I did a trip around the world and I went to California and there was a retirement village and I said, this would be alright for Perth.

“We had some land and I said we should do a retirement village.

“It was hard to get people educated, people didn’t understand about retirement. We did very well though and now we have seven retirement villages.”

Mr Fini cites the apartment craze that hit South Perth in the early 1980s as a major challenge for his business.

“In 1982 there was a big cloud over the supply in Perth. I got very nervous because we had a lot of stock and we were thinking, what are we going to do with it?” he said.

“So I thought that we had better drop the price before anyone else does.

“We dropped it $7,000 to $8,000 and people said I was crazy.

“We didn’t make a profit, we made a loss but we survived. A lot of developers crashed.”

Mr Fini used the slogan, ‘vision to reality’, which was a feature of his building sites.

“The message ‘vision to reality’ I use because to go somewhere you have to know where you are going,” he said.

Mr Fini said recruiting the best team of people was an element to the business’ success.

And while many of his family worked in the business there was no easy ride to the top.

 

FINI FACTS

  • Tony Fini came to Australia in 1951

  • Bought his first block of land in 1954 

  • Survived the 1960s credit squeeze and ended up building more than 200 houses a year

  • His favourite property project was Northbridge’s St James.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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