Phil Hunt and his prize 1975 Chrysler Valiant ute. Photo / George Novak 170920gn08bop.JPG
Phil Hunt in his office at Tauriko Business Estate. Photo / George Novak 170920gn10bop.JPG
By Zoe Hunter
By the end of this financial year, Philip Hunt will have sold more than $500 million worth of commercial property in Tauranga since the start of his real estate career.
The Ray White Commercial team's managing director says he has completed about 100 transactions a year over the last two years - millions
of dollars worth of sales each year.
But it hasn't come without hard work and sacrifice.
The recently-turned 66-year-old started his real estate career in 2008 - the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis.
But Hunt says it was the perfect time to start selling commercial real estate.
"It was a great time to start because it confirmed to me how I had to work. That is, treat people how you wanted to be treated."
And his success is evident in the accolades he has received to date.
Award winning agent
Hunt was awarded Salesperson of the Year for the fifth year in a row at the annual Ray White New Zealand (virtual) Awards this September.
"And I'm not going to stop."
It is a goal he has had since he began his career and an achievement he wished he could tell his late father about.
"I am the eldest of five kids. My dad taught me everything. He taught me how to sell and to be honourable, just to love people."
Hunt was also honoured as an Elite Performer, ranking him among the top 2 per cent of Ray White agents in the country, where there are more than 180 branches.
He also received the Individual Customer Service Clients' Choice Award alongside his prodigy Christy Arundel who was also awarded the Honorary Premier.
In the annual Ray White Commercial International (virtual) Awards last month, Hunt was again named Elite Performer and awarded the fifth top commercial agent internationally.
"I love it. Simply, I just absolutely love it. I love the people I surround myself with. That is wonderful clients and my team. It's taken a while to build both of those."
Horticulture, Mainstreet manager to real estate
Rewind to before real estate, Hunt was in horticulture.
"I owned a very famous garden centre in Palmerston North called Hokowhitu Garden Centre, then expanded and acquired another one in Feilding."
In 1992, Palmers Garden Centre made Hunt an offer he said he couldn't refuse, which moved him to Tauranga as the North Island manager.
After realising working for a corporate business wasn't for him, Hunt tried his hand as the Mount Mainstreet manager from 1994 to 2000, when he was heavily involved in implementing the Spring and Elizabeth Sts parking buildings.
Hunt then moved into property management when Denis McMahon "who is a bit of an icon as far as property goes" asked him to work for him.
"I was a chairman at that stage of a couple of investor groups. So I had an idea of commercial property. Really, Denis trained me."
In 2008, Hunt said McMahon started McMahon Commercial before acquiring the Ray White Commercial Bay of Plenty franchise about 2013.
"In 2016, I bought into the business with a business partner David Hart of Ray White Bayfair.
"I have been very lucky. David has provided a really strong admin team, which takes all of that off my plate and completely frees me up to do what is my passion ... "
Now the managing director of Ray White Commercial, Hunt said he had met some "pretty special" clients in the last 12 years who had now become friends.
"My motivation is just to solve all their problems and look after them.
"I often say to people I would rather go to the office and be doing this than having a day at the beach. Sounds silly but I love my work so much that I actually don't go to work.
"Someone once said that if you love your job you never have to work a day in your life. I have found my niche."
Hunt said the thing with commercial property was there was no emotion.
"It's not as though you want to go and buy that show home because you like the kitchen.
"There is no emotion. It is about whether it stacks up, it is about the financial return, it is a business decision."
And Hunt invests in what he sells.
A highlight of his career came about five years ago when he decided the industrial sector needed new smaller industrial units and he invested in Tauriko.
"The market was at a low ... and I was lucky to have a developer [Homes Development in Rotorua] who backed my idea and went ahead with the project that turned out very successful, it completely sold out and leased on completion.
"From there on in I have grown in that market with strong support from Form Construction and the Gartshore Group and they both have been extremely loyal and supportive of my hair brain schemes that have all worked exceptionally."
Hunt is involved in about six commercial properties in Tauriko.
"Tauriko is entirely reliant on the Port of Tauranga. Most of the people I deal with they are directly or indirectly affected in a positive way by the port.
"Without the port, Tauriko would be just another industrial subdivision. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am. It's as simple as that."
Raising a grandson
Outside of work, Hunt raises his grandson Brad who is in the permanent care of he and his long-time partner Karen Ormsby.
"Brad has changed my life."
It was Brad who got Hunt off his Harley and into classic cars.
Hunt said he had always wanted a 1975 Chrysler Valiant Charger, which he had bought for him and his grandson.
"That's Brad and Poppa's toy."
He has also since bought a 1975 Valiant Ute to go with it.
"Brad ignited that interest and probably taught me a lesson about being effective with my time. He has inspired a change in my lifestyle."
Although 66 years old, Hunt and his partner do all the things young parents would do, including school drop off and pick up and investing in after school interests.
"Brad is into his music at the moment. He is learning electric guitar and drums. We are pretty excited."
Brad has also reignited Hunt's passion for gardening.
"I am relandscaping the property. Those are my hobbies - the man cave and the garden."
Three things you didn't know about Phil Hunt
1. Hunt, Ormsby and Brad are "Bali freaks". He and Ormsby have been to Bali more than 30 times over the years. "We just adore the place and the people."
2. Hunt's grandson Brad has been in his permanent care for nine years. "Brad has changed my life."
3. Hunt used to be a "crazy road cyclist" both competitive and social. He has cycled around Lake Taupo 10 times, which is about 165km each time.