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Alan created the springboard. The job of the third generation was to jump on it and take the company to an international operation


White is pleased all his sons started out


to the family business. “There was never any expectation that


they would join the business,” he says. White’s view is formed from personal


experience and informs his strident views on succession. “I had worked for my father and I


remember what it was like. You want to make own decisions; you want to be in charge of things. You want to be able to do things without saying, ‘Hey Dad, what do you think about this?’ Because


“The big question was, ‘Are we going to expand


Top: Brian White,


grandson of Ray White, joined the family business in 1962 and took over as managing director in 1976. He now serves as joint-chairman with his brother Paul


Opposite top: Fourth generation Dan White, beside father Brian, joined Ray White Group in 2000 after working at Macquarie Bank and Arthur


Andersen


Opposite below: The Crows Nest Shed where it all began: “I get goose bumps every time I come to this place,” says Brian White


interstate?’. And eventually the decision that I took was, ‘Well, we have to give it a go’. It was a big risk, and business is about taking risks, but this was a risk that was going to be significant. We could actually have a go at going national and probably lose everything if it fails. We had a go and good things happened.” Yet the expansion was not without significant


strain. White mortgaged his own properties to fund the initiative and he became a member of what he calls “The 2am Club”. “For about a year I’d be up at 2am walking the


streets to deal with the tension and sleeplessness. It was the best time of Scooby’s life (the dog we had at the time),” he jokes. “He was always awake with his tail wagging. He


knew where we were going and he knew where the cats were to chase!”


THE HOUSE THAT RAY BUILT The family has done much to try and preserve Ray White’s founding ethos of humility and ambition into the fourth generation. “Towards the end of his life someone said to my


father, ‘Oh you must be pleased by what Brian has done’. And he said, ‘Yeah he’s done a good job, but it has taken him a long time.’ His view was if good things happen, yes you should rejoice, but not for too long—get back into it. I remember it brought me down to ground very nicely.”


ISSUE 74 | 2018


your father only has to say, ‘Well, I am not too sure about that’, and it is like a veto.” To keep that ambition alive, White is eager to give


his sons and nephew what he calls a “red hot go”— Australian slang for giving it your best effort. “It is so important that as a parent you let your


kids have a go and they [the boys] are all having red hot goes in different areas,” he says. Ray White’s ability to be a fourth-generation


family business that is still 100% owned and led, puts it in a rare company. It has informed Brian’s contrarian attitudes about ownership and succession. “The theory goes the first generation starts the


business, the second generation creates something good, the third generation stuffs it up. Could it be more realistically, first generation starts, second generation creates it and then buggers up the succession? Is it a second generation problem, not the third?” “Parents are so keen to be equal or fair to their


kids, that they give everyone a third or quarter or how many shares there are in the company. They put their hands above the table and say, ‘I’ve done the right thing’. But you have given [the next generation] a poisoned chalice,” he warns. White recounts the story of a personal friend


who was considering giving his three children equal shares in a family business, despite only one working in it, and the other siblings living overseas, but demanding involvement.


CAMPDENFB.COM 17


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