There are some amazing stories in the Northern Illawarra, including the story of Stanwell Park’s Ken McCarthy, who this year celebrated his 40th year in local real estate.
In the 1970’s Ken was an accountant with the ABC, but he was looking for a change. So he took himself off to Sydney University and did a course in Real Estate before opening his own business in Heathcote. But times were tough, until a visit to his local GP changed everything.
“My doctor told me about this beautiful little place down south called Stanwell Park. We came down for a weekend in 1975 and we never left!
Today, you’ll recognise them as Ray White Helensburgh.
“When we first came to Helensburgh, we had 24 hour policing,” says Ken, “a courthouse and two banks. Today, we have none of that! I keep crowing to Wollongong Council about ‘The Forgotten North’ but nobody is listening!”
Times were tough in the early days, with Ken and his wife Patricia working seven days a week in the office, then cleaning houses at night to make ends meet.
“We got our first break when a subdivision opened up in the town,” says Ken. “In fact, I build the first villas in the town. There were plenty of houses, but I thought we needed something for older people that was smaller and easier to manage.”
Since those early days, the real estate business has become a real family affair! Son Patrick trained as an accountant and now runs the successful McGrath’s agency in Sutherland, boasting 100 employees, while other son Warren headed up 730 offices of the LJ Hooker corporation.
“In the early days, we made the decision to become apart of the LJ Hooker franchise because of the support they could provide,” says Ken. “They also offered ongoing training, which I thought would be of benefit to Warren, who was then working for me. So I ‘d send him off to all the conferences and seminars, and before I knew it, he was working with them,” laughs Ken.
Then the decision was made to join the Ray White group, allowing the local team access to superior training and support.
And while Ken is still an active director of what is now Ray White Helensburgh, it’s the third generation that’s taken the reins.
Grandson Simon Beaufils is now at the helm, with his younger brother Mattias by his side,
“It’s been a great family business,” says Ken. “And I’ve met so many people. If you think about it, I’ve met a few families a week for 40 years. That adds up. Now, when I walk down the street I see so many people I know. In fact I was at a school event the other day and one of the dads stopped me to say I had sold his parents their first home in the town.”
“We have loved working in Helensburgh, and becoming such a big part of the local community, and we have loved living in Stanwell Park. this part of the world is such an easy place to live.”