Anna O’Toole and her husband Ruary are Sentinel Homes newbies, but when it comes to owning a building company, they’re old hands.
The couple are still running their commercial building company – joining the Sentinel Homes family as our Nelson/Marlborough and Tasman Franchise has rounded out what they can offer to the area.
Anna explains, “We’ve always wanted to do residential work, but we’ve always been too busy with our commercial work to promote it properly. When the opportunity came up with Sentinel Homes, we jumped at it. The brand is already sorted and it will work alongside our existing company perfectly.”
The difference between building for commercial and residential is “vast”, says Anna.
“Commercial is very much about concrete, steel, roof and cladding. It’s for a purpose and it just needs to be functional. Residential is a lot more emotional and you’re working with people to build their dream home.”
Anna and Ruary are looking forward to helping people them realise those dreams.
Unusually for our franchise owners, neither Ruary or Anna are builders by trade. Ruary comes from an extensive sales background and Anna is a qualified legal executive.
For Ruary and Anna, owning a business lets them create something that was all their own, while offering them the flexibility they need to support their three sons.
“It was something we could grow for ourselves. It would be an opportunity for us to work together, and combine our strengths and skills,” says Anna.
A passion for construction and Anna’s broad experience with conveyancing led them to open their current commercial building company.
“We didn’t have the building knowledge at first, but we brought the people in who did. We employed builders who knew what they’re doing on the tools!” says Anna.
That formula has paid off – when their company first opened they had a build team of three. Today, they have 21 employees, including a QS, and project managers. That already established structure and team will add huge benefit to their residential work under Sentinel Homes.
“A lot of being able to provide a great experience to clients is when you can work on the business, not in the business and that’s what we’re able to do,” explains Anna.
Sentinel Homes Nelson/Marlborough is still sharing offices with Anna and Ruary’s commercial building company, but it won’t be for long. They’re looking for land to build a show home – something that’s not easy to come by in hilly Nelson.
Anna and Ruary have lived in the area for 30 years, so the wait will be worth it – part of the motivation for joining Sentinel Homes was to bring a point of difference to their beloved city, and give homeowners more choice.
Their Blenheim customers won’t be forgotten either – Anna and Ruary have plans to establish a consultant in the area.
Anna attributes their already proven success to their no-problem attitude – something the couple plan to bring to their Sentinel Homes customers.
“We’re positive people,” says Anna. “Glass-half-full people. To us, things are never a problem – instead they’re opportunities.
“We truly believe that any problem can be solved by great communication.”
Part of what appealed about Sentinel Homes was seeing alignment with this approach, too.
“The way they run, and the Sentinel app, means you get to involve your customers.”
Anna says she also loved that the other franchisees are all there to do the same thing – provide great service.
“We love being able to draw on everyone’s different strengths, to learn from each other. We can pick people’s brains and talk to the established franchisees, so we can give our clients the best advice. It gives customers confidence”.
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