The homebuilder from ‘down under’ takes US market by storm

Date

The homebuilder from ‘down under’ takes US market by storm

Date

 

In 2005, CEO of G.J. Gardner Homes, Darren Wallis, packed his suitcase and left Australia with a plan to
expand his successful homebuilding company into the United States.
 
With no contacts, map and limited knowledge of the United States property market, Wallis said it was one of the
most challenging times of his career but the risk of trying his luck in America has definitely paid off.
In the 2011/12 financial year, profits in the United States exceeded $6 million—a 25 per cent increase to gross
revenue—proving that G.J. Gardner Homes’ unique franchise model has been just as successful in America as it
has been in Australia and New Zealand.
 
“We always said we’d have a massive party when we built our first home in America, but that rolled through and
now we’ve built about 100 houses this year,” Wallis said.
 
Despite the nation-wide decline in the United States home-building market, G.J. Gardner Homes has rapidly
grown to have 16 franchise locations operating in California, 10 in Colorado, two in Texas and at least six more
opening across the country by the end of the year.
 
G.J. Gardner Homes is also the only Australian company to have successfully started up a residential property
franchise in the United States market—a market that is said to be the worst property building market in history.
 
“During the Global Financial Crisis, the phones stopped ringing and it felt like everyone and everything went
silent—but we were still able to keep afloat,” Wallis said.
 
And despite G.J. Gardner Homes’ strong position in the United States today, Wallis said the GFC was just one of
the challenges he faced with the expansion and it was definitely harder than first expected.
 
“Every day was a challenge and although there aren’t obvious cultural differences between Australia and
America, they do exist,” Wallis said.
 
“The accent and language differences were surprisingly one of the biggest challenges.
 
“I tried to start talking with an American accent during meetings with potential franchisees so they could
understand me and I had to be mindful of using Australian slang that didn’t translate.”
Language differences aside, Wallis said American builders warmly welcomed the franchise opportunities with
G.J. Gardner Homes, recognizing the benefits of being a part of a stable, supported and secure business that
has a safety net of other experienced builders within reach.
 
In the past year, sales have nearly doubled in Colorado and master offices have opened in Indiana, New
England and Texas. Affirming G.J. Gardner Homes’ success in the United States, The Franchising Times named
G.J. Gardner Homes the third fastest growing franchise worldwide.
 
“My main focus for the future is to expand the business both domestically and internationally, predominantly
across the United States, with projections of up to 300 to 400 active G.J. Gardner Homes stores over the next 10
years,” Wallis said.
 
“I still pinch myself about the success of G.J. Gardner Homes in the United States and I am looking forward to
growing the business further as we welcome many more members of the American homebuilding community to
the G.J. Gardner Homes family.”
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