EWAN MOR­TON: THERE ARE NO SECRETS

TO SUC­CESS Catherine Vissiere

Elite Property Manager - - Contents -

The de­sire for ex­cel­lence has al­ways been at the crux of what gets Ewan Mor­ton out of bed ev­ery day. It is this re­lent­less drive that has helped the 50-yearold turn the fledgeling fam­ily real es­tate busi­ness he co-founded with his fa­ther Mark 22 years ago into the bur­geon­ing real es­tate and prop­erty man­age­ment op­er­a­tion Mor­ton is to­day.

Start­ing with a sin­gle of­fice spe­cial­is­ing in res­i­den­tial prop­erty, Mor­ton is now con­sid­ered one of Syd­ney’s lead­ing in­de­pen­dent agen­cies, with more than 85 team mem­bers spread across eight sep­a­rate sites.

Al­ways seek­ing to chal­lenge con­ven­tion, in 2013 Ewan made the bold de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce an em­ployee share scheme to in­cen­tivise his team. The com­pany has al­ways been about growth, and Ewan has al­ways en­sured he led from the front.

He has helped the agency se­cure nu­mer­ous in­dus­try awards for ev­ery­thing from gen­eral busi­ness ex­cel­lence, be­ing an eight-time win­ner of the REI Large Agency award, to ex­per­tise in prop­erty mar­ket­ing.

“There are no secrets,” he explains. “It’s hard work and you have to remain con­sis­tently dis­ci­plined. I swim or ex­er­cise daily be­cause I need to keep my mind fo­cused. If you’re go­ing to be in real es­tate for the long term, which is what you have to do in or­der to be suc­cess­ful, then you’ve got to have these struc­tures in place to keep you [sharp].”

The en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit hit Ewan early; he started his first busi­ness – in gar­den­ing and rub­bish re­moval – while com­plet­ing an eco­nom­ics de­gree at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney. Ea­ger to learn from the best, he set his sights on se­cur­ing a place in the pres­ti­gious IBM grad­u­ate pro­gram, a goal he achieved just months af­ter grad­u­at­ing.

“I did the IBM grad­u­ate pro­gram for 12 months; it was full on, it was tough and it wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily en­joy­able. But I re­ally credit it for giv­ing me re­silience, dis­ci­pline and ex­pos­ing me to a much big­ger world. I learned a lot work­ing there that I was able to bring into my think­ing for how I wanted to run Mor­ton,” he says.

Hav­ing made the strate­gic de­ci­sion to be­come a non-sell­ing prin­ci­pal from the be­gin­ning, Ewan Mor­ton has spent his time cu­rat­ing Mor­ton Real Es­tate’s lead­er­ship and de­vel­op­ment pro­gram. He has cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties

“THE REA­SON WE GROW HAS NOTH­ING TO DO WITH MONEY – IT'S GOT TO DO WITH GIV­ING PEO­PLE CHAL­LENGES TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE GROW­ING."

that have seen his team grow and ex­pand to of­fices across Cir­cu­lar Quay, Pyr­mont, Wool­loomooloo, Green Square, Went­worth Point, Pen­rith, River­wood and Crows Nest – in the process es­tab­lish­ing Mor­ton as a dom­i­nant player in the build­ing man­age­ment field and as a spe­cial­ist in Syd­ney CBD and city fringe res­i­den­tial sales.

“The rea­son we grow has noth­ing to do with money – it’s got to do with be­ing able to give peo­ple fur­ther chal­lenges to make sure they’re grow­ing and en­hanc­ing their skill. My goal has al­ways been to de­velop op­por­tu­nity within the busi­ness and al­low oth­ers to feed off that.”

Mor­ton has since helped the com­pany flour­ish from a rigid sales-dom­i­nated agency with a rent roll of just 40 to a more fluid op­er­a­tion, with prop­erty man­age­ment now ac­count­ing for around 50 per cent of the com­pany’s turnover.

“We work hard to keep that bal­ance, be­cause the prop­erty man­age­ment di­vi­sion has al­ways saved us dur­ing hard times in terms of hav­ing con­sis­tent cash flow, but not hav­ing to re­duce in­fra­struc­ture,” he says.

“It’s a great re­la­tion­ship builder and that’s what I be­lieve we’re good at.”

An­other area in which the agency has proved it­self par­tic­u­larly adept is in hav­ing its abil­ity recog­nised on a na­tional stage.

Part of the rea­son the agency started en­ter­ing in­dus­try awards was to raise its pro­file. But, since win­ning their first in­dus­try award more than a decade ago, the fo­cus has since shifted to that of demon­stra­ble con­sis­tency.

“Since 2004 we’ve been a fi­nal­ist 90 times and won 33 awards. The rea­son we do the awards is be­cause it demon­strates con­sis­tency to both our cus­tomers and our peo­ple. When some­one comes to work for us and they see that we’ve con­sis­tently won these awards, they know this is a group of peo­ple that takes ex­cel­lence se­ri­ously. The awards give you a point of re­view and they pro­vide a mo­ment for you to re­flect, which I think is a good thing. The sub­mis­sions do ev­ery­body’s heads in, but now we’ve started on this path we can’t stop,” he says.

Hav­ing ben­e­fited from the wis­dom of those who have pre­ceded him in the real es­tate com­mu­nity, Ewan be­lieves that it is im­por­tant to give back. He op­er­ates an open-door pol­icy at the agency and says he has al­ways been “open to shar­ing” both suc­cess­ful and un­suc­cess­ful strate­gies.

Cur­rently pro­vid­ing in­for­mal men­tor­ing ser­vices to an ex­ec­u­tive out­side the in­dus­try, he hopes to use his role as a di­rec­tor of Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of NSW to re­in­state its men­tor­ing pro­gram.

A fa­ther to three daugh­ters aged 15, 14 and 12, Ewan says that, while work re­mains ex­tremely im­por­tant to him, his fam­ily has taught him the im­por­tance of find­ing ways to blend his pro­fes­sional and per­sonal life.

At­tend­ing his of­fice’s auc­tions held each Satur­day while also hon­our­ing his com­mit­ments as a di­rec­tor of REINSW is a key pri­or­ity, but no more so than en­sur­ing he is also present at im­por­tant fix­tures on the school cal­en­dar.

While he pro­fesses to work an av­er­age of 50 hours a week spread across five days, in truth, af­ter work events and team com­mit­ments are fac­tored in, the scope of­ten creeps. He prac­tises what he preaches, how­ever, and flex­i­ble work­ing con­di­tions remain a core com­po­nent of the agency’s abil­ity to re­tain a high­per­form­ing team and keep its em­ployee en­gage­ment at 94 per cent across the board.

“My wife works part-time and I make sure I’m home to pick up my kids and do din­ner and stuff like that. I work from home at times, I work from the café at times; I have a desk, but I’m con­stantly mov­ing. As a lead­er­ship group we used to talk about work/life bal­ance, but now we’re talk­ing about work/life blend and how you can give peo­ple the flex­i­bil­ity to be good par­ents and good fam­ily peo­ple while en­sur­ing they remain good at their work too.”

CATHERINE VISSIERE is the Head of Mar­ket­ing at Rock­end. For more in­for­ma­tion visit rock­end.com.au.

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