When Tim Jones took over the reins as managing director of MMJ in Wollongong on Monday he became the third generation Jones to hold the position.
The move was part of a succession plan initiated by his father Geoff Jones whose own father Allan Jones was the inaugural managing director of Martin Morris & Jones when it started at 141 Crown St almost 60 years ago. It then moved to 299 Crown St and then to its present site at 6 Regent St in 2001.
Geoff Jones will continue as a director but said the time was right for him to step down as managing director. He said it was part of a carefully planned succession plan to help the company survive and grow for decades to come.
He said he was ready to ease back to four days a week and ease towards retirement as a new generation of partners and shareholders including Travis Machan, Luke Rollinson and Daniel Hastings help his son take the company into the future.
He said that transition began six years ago and is part of a carefully thought out strategic plan that will ensure the company continues to change, adapt and improve.
"I enjoy coming to work every day and it is hard to let go of leading the company but the time is right. Tim has taken over a lot of responsibility for some time now".
"I am very very proud. He will continue to move the business forward. He is a good operator and a good guy".
Tim Jones said it was a real honour to be the third generation Jones to take on the managing directors role at the company that presently had 53 staff and is spreading its wings nationally as it continues to expand on a growth trajectory.
He has worked with the company for more than 16 years and he felt very proud of taking on the position help by his highly respected father.
"To be able to carry on the tradition and continue the hard work they have put into this company over the years is a real privilege," he said.
"To be able to continue that on in the family name is an honour.
"We have franchised outside the area to other locations during the last five or 10 years.
"It makes me proud that a Wollongong based company is able to penetrate news markets like Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.
"It helps us in our endeavours here when we are trying to list large scale commercial properties if we have a network nationally to be able to bring to the table".
He sees a big future for MMJ which he describes as a very diverse real estate company.
And more opportunities to continue to diversify the business and think outside the square.
Mr Jones expects the company to continue to look at opportunities to franchise in more locations around the country and create more employment opportunities in the Illawarra.
"It is a changing landscape," he said.
"You only need to look at what is happening at the top of Regent St and it is a different world.
"For example signature has been a fantastic development and great for our company. In the first 48 hours of that development we sold 48 units.
"It is a very exciting development. We can't wait to see it finished".
Mr Jones said it was great to have his father Geoff Jones continue in the business.
He said he had been a great mentor and role model.
And someone he would like to emulate.
"We are very happy that he is going to stay here for a little longer yet," he said.
"He has earned a lot of respect over the years. I hope to be able to achieve the same one day".
Regent Street Wollongong a hive of activity
Regent Street in Wollongong is becoming a hive of commercial leasing activity.
MMJ's commercial leasing director Michael Croghan said the recent commitment by a number of new tennants at 8 Regent Street was directly linked to the significant upgrade of the building after the NSW State Emergency Service moved into its new building.
Mr Croghan said the NSW Business Chamber, SMEC Engineering, Accelo, APP Project Managers and TDK Development and Construction join existing tenants Borst Architects, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and MMJ Real Estate.
He said the strong interest in the quality space showed tenants are demanding more.
"The last decade in particular has shown a strong and growing trend of a 'flight to quality' in Wollongong and elsewhere," he said.
"Competition to attract and retain talented employees means that businesses are demanding more of their office accommodation.
"Overall staff well being is forefront and very much property related".
Mr Croghan said features that are appealing for such tennants include natural light and showers and lockers to cater for a more active workforce.
A building's presentation is also important.
Amenities such such as forecourts, foyers and toilets, the inclusion of greenery to common areas and within tenancies are also popular.
As are open plan office spaces and modern fit-outs promoting collaboration.
"Tenants see their office accommodation not simply as a place to do business, but a reflection of the business itself and how they wish to be viewed," Mr Croghan said.
"More efficient modern fit-outs also enable higher density of staff with the positive trade off of better quality premises at comparable or even lower overall cost".
Mr Croghan said when the SES, a major long-standing tenant, decided to move and set up a new state headquarters the challenge for the owners of 8 Regent Street was to take the opportunity to re-position the building for the longer term.
"What was evident early on is that whilst MMJ were very successful in showcasing the building to a wide range of tenants, feedback and actual take-up was lacklustre," he said.
"Accordingly, renovation and modernisation plans were fast-tracked and significant thought was given to the most effective means of repositioning the building. Once tenants could see the progress and visualise the end product, genuine leasing interest rose significantly".
Mr Croghan said as a trusted advisor to the industry MMJ wanted to incorporate some boldness
"This sub-precinct of the CBD is undergoing real transformation with three massive high rise developments directly adjoining. We wanted to be part of that exciting change."
Mr Croghan said Wollongong CBD more broadly was seeing significant change.
He said that was not just in high-rise residential units to the city centre.
But also in the provision of office accommodation.
"There are now, not one, but two large A Grade office buildings under construction and due for completion in 2020," he said.
"In historical terms, we have never seen the likes of this level of commercial investment, which can only be a positive move in attracting more business to the region.
"This is on the back of historically low vacancy in A grade premises, yet reasonably high vacancy in B, C & D grade premises. Further evidence that the market is demanding better quality premises".