Just at the moment my three brothers and I merged our growing regional housebuilding business, Villafont Homes, with the respected family main contracting business, McGoff & Byrne, in 2007, a swift step change in the market was felt, says Chris McGoff, main board director.
Main contracting orders dried up, ‘wine bar developer’ clients went bust on us and cash surpluses turned to overdrafts. Housebuilding sales slumped, banks called in all their loans, moved you to the ‘naughty boys club’ and then tried to take part of our business.
The irony was private banking manager buyers were trying to renegotiate the prices for homes nearing completion, but were swiftly told to stand by their contract. In addition, and as the tide went out, other buyers who had over-extended themselves on cheap credit card debt were crying down the phone to try to get out of their purchase, whilst secretly taking delivery of new Aston Martins. It was ‘tin hat’ time and whilst we had to firefight to deal with immediate issues, the fact that we were a lean business with four pairs of family member eyes, allowed us to innovate quickly and move development activity into buoyant sectors to self-generate our own construction activity.
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