Celebrating his 20th year in property development, David Trask is now one of the largest developers of land in the Moreton Bay region.
Born and bred in the bay area, David’s Trask Development Corporation (TDC) directly manages all facets of land development, from acquisitions right through to sales. TDC continues to break its own monthly settlement records and is in development of approximately 2,500 lots in booming suburbs such as Griffin, Dakabin, Morayfield, Burpengary and North Lakes.
What triggered your interest in property development?
At the age of 19 I entered my family’s real estate business as a land salesman and after five years in sales, decided to move into acquisitions. To try and make more money I later decided to have a crack at development and to support this move, I took a profit share in the business, rather than being paid for my acquisitions.
What drives you – has there been someone or something that has inspired your career?
There hasn’t been anything specific that has inspired me; one thing that does give me a particular amount of drive is being told that I can’t do certain things. This just gives me drive to prove people wrong. I just try to be the best at everything I do so all in all, this philosophy continues through all facets of the business.
You started your first property development company in 1994, what were the main challenges in starting your business so early in your career?
There were a lot of learning’s that came from inexperience but back then the property industry was a completely different beast to what it is today. Everyday then, as it is now, is a continual challenge when you deal with so many different levels of Government and the myriad of legislative changes that always seem to confront our business.
Do you think the town planning system has adapted to the needs and requirements of the community over recent decades?
Today’s town planning system is a lot more complex than what it was previously, and this has not been a positive change. The needs of the public are met through planning for affordability and I question whether lifestyle suffers as a result of the overly complex planning system we have today.
Almost 50% of your staff have been with you for over 10 years, what is your model for staff retention?
I make a real effort to look after my staff and wouldn’t ever ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I would like to believe that we have a fun work place and that everyone enjoys the environment that we all work together in. A lot of our staff are not just work acquaintances, they are friends in the afterwork hours so those friendships create an easy going work environment.
You have direct experience in all facets of the project management cycle. How do you think this end to end knowledge contributes to successfully delivering your product to market?
I think that knowing all facets of business is very important because if you are unable to translate market requirements into what is required in your product, then you won’t be able to sell to the end purchaser. Conversely, if you can’t translate your product to the purchaser, they won’t be able to understand it.
Can you describe your project management process?
We spend the most time creating the vision, so the consumer can see the end product and the thought and consideration that has gone into it. I like to make sure the product is usable and suits the marketplace but more importantly, try to create our estates as usable neighbourhoods and ultimately somewhere that I can revisit year after year and be proud of what we have created.
What do you think you do differently to other developers?
I take a more hands on approach with all aspects of my developments. This gives me the flexibility to make decisions on the run and change, as and when, the market changes.
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently? What piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would make sure I had a stronger land bank. It’s getting harder and harder to get stock to support development projects and this is going to make developments increasingly difficult over the years to come.
What is your favourite project that you’ve developed and why?
My first project, Hidden Forest, which was a 70 lot, greenfield project in Joyner. It is my favourite because we were able to design all our roads, services, the whole development around trees. This allowed us to deliver a product that was very well accepted by the marketplace and received awards because we thought outside the box with respect to the subdivision and not simply just barrelling over trees. I would like to go back to those days because I don’t enjoy knocking trees over, but this is common place today because of the rules and framework that we have to work within.
How do you think the property sector will change over the next five years?
Until there is a radical reform of the South East Queensland Regional Plan and the urban footprint, green and brownfield sites will become increasingly difficult to source and this will result in a situation where demand outstrips supply. All levels of government also need to be more proactive with the implementation and provision of trunk infrastructure, to allow growth to occur in a more considered and orderly sense.