The Rosebank Business Association is thrilled to congratulate Ashley Goodwin, founder of renowned realtor Goodwins, on achieving a 50-year career in the real estate industry. Ashley’s longevity of success highlighted by his being awarded Life Membership to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) on the 28th of November, this year. Ashley and his daughter, Goodwins Managing Director and CEO Catherine Goodwin couldn’t be prouder of everything that Ashley has led their family-owned business to achieve.
“We’ve been in the business a long time, and we’re still very successful,” says Ashley. Long-established as specialists in sales and property management, the Goodwins team has worked hard following Ashley’s example to define their success in a field of major players. “It’s a very competitive industry – you’ve got all the big franchises and they have immense resources — but we’re still here, and we’re competing with them.”
Not only has Goodwins stood the test of time, market conditions, and big-budget competitors, says Catherine, but she is proud to have helped to ensure their legacy by welcoming more family members into the fold. “We’re continuing to build a business that will thrive well after Dad and I,” she says. “We have successfully transitioned Goodwins to the next generation — that being myself, my brother Brendan, my sister, Sophia, my sister-in-law, Aleina, and my husband, Dave. That’s pretty exciting. Allowing Dad much greater flexibility, and time to enjoy an array of other life pursuits.”
Goodwins operates a tight-knit team of 25 across two Auckland locations; their head office is in Parnell, and their longstanding flagship office sits at the busy corner of Mount Albert and New North Roads. They’re one of the founding members of the Rosebank Business Association, having joined the RBA when it first assembled back in 2002. (At that time, Goodwins had a real estate office in Avondale.) Ashley has always been passionate about connecting with others in his local business community, and in particular supporting the real estate industry. He has proudly served REINZ within their sector groups, and took seriously his role on the REINZ Investigation Sub-Committee/Disciplinary Panels of the Auckland District. Simply put, he says, it’s an industry he enjoys working in.
“Right from day one, I’ve enjoyed the one-on-one business association with vendors and purchasers,” he says. “I enjoy working with people, and I enjoy everything about running a business.”
Catherine adds that the impact they have on people’s everyday lives as realtors cannot be underestimated. The privilege of being an intimate part of people’s lives, she says, is what drives her and her family to be successful at what they do.
“In terms of property management, when you are literally meeting someone’s need of safe housing, it is an incredible responsibility,” she explains. “And from a sales perspective, we quite literally can support the entire life journey of home ownership. Those stories, and the diversity of those people, is exhilarating.”
Ashley’s first-ever job in banking gave no hints as to the highly successful real estate career in his future, but perhaps his family lineage did. Grandson of Miles J. Cassidy, an Irish immigrant to New Zealand who became a real estate entrepreneur in the 1920s, Ashley grew up watching one uncle and his grandfather work hard to make their mark on the industry (his Uncle Horace played a key role in developing the education offering at REINZ). Always one to do things his own way, Ashley tried his hand at a few professions before ultimately approaching his uncle about working in real estate.
“When I left school at 16, I worked for the BNZ in Taranaki. I then worked for government, in the education department,” he recounts. “Following on from that I did various other things, before heading offshore for a year in Australia.”
“One of those jobs was as the foreman of a freezing works!” puts in Catherine. “Then, all of a sudden, he was in a corporate suit. Dad can relate beautifully to any group of people; one of the things he does really well is being so relatable and genuine in such different environments.”
It was 1973 when Ashley’s uncle helped connect him to his first real estate mentors, Merv Neill and Dick Gladding of Gladding, Keys and Neill. From there, he never looked back. Ashley went on to work in sales and management roles at Belton’s Real Estate, which was later sold and came under the umbrella of United Realty World and then Ray White (the latter of which Ashley is a founding member; he contributed highly to establishing the brand here in New Zealand).
“It was my mother who suggested I talk to her brother, my uncle Horace Cassidy,” he recalls, “to see if I would like real estate, which of course I did. I ‘found my feet’ quickly , not just listing properties, but being able to close the sale, which is pretty important. It was just a business I liked, and it liked me, and I did extremely well by selling, and later managing offices.”
In 1983, Ashley took up the management of Belton’s office at 910 New North Road, and later incorporated Goodwin Realty when the opportunity arose to purchase a franchise in 1991. His style of doing business somewhat pushed the accepted boundaries of the day; he encouraged his team to be highly professional — as much so as a lawyer or accountant — which was decidedly against the more widely held “casual” approach. Ashley also went the extra mile to recruit, train and upskill his staff, drawing in new salespeople from outside the industry (he recalls a former butcher being the best salesperson he ever had) and going as far as buying a staff member’s first suit or funding their training.
Above all, he became known for his positive attitude, ambition, and commitment to honesty with the vendor. “Honesty is a huge thing in real estate,” he says. “And it’s important to form a team where there’s loyalty and respect, going right down from myself to everybody in the team.”
In 2011, Ashley and Catherine rebranded, as independently owned Goodwins. This year marks 40 years since Ashley first moved to Goodwins’ Mount Albert location.
“Our Mount Albert building is now over 100 years old,” says Catherine. “We completed an large scale refurbishment here over the past two years, and it’s now fitted out to service the needs of a growing team. We’d like to see it last another 100 years.”
Staying on the cutting edge of technology is a key part of what sets Goodwins apart from other realtors. “We were one of the first to adopt virtual reality marketing as standard,” says Catherine, “as well as virtual floor plans and digital welcome packs for our tenants. We’re always striving to continuously improve.”
She credits her team’s hard work in securing the accommodation project for the 2021 America’s Cup with giving Goodwins the platform to transform their business. The technology they invested in for that event has now given Goodwins a stronghold in the Auckland executive rental market, as well as with Kiwi ex-pats needing property management services from overseas (through a recent sponsorship with ex-pat support specialists Kea).
“Through that virtual reality technology, we can now service incoming tenants or purchasers from all over the world as if they were standing inside the property with us,” she says. “It is something that sets Goodwins apart — the ability for us to service anyone, whether a landlord or a vendor, tenant or purchaser wherever in the world you are.”
In the “increasingly litigious” world of real estate, she adds, ongoing professional development is equally as important to ensure Goodwins delivers the best possible service to their clients. “Delivering quality advice to our clients means that their entire investment journey is more certain,” she says. “We focus heavily on the available NZQA certifications, and we are internally running very strong training programmes. Attendance at industry conferences and seminars is really important to us, for everyone from frontline to office administration and through to my role as CEO.”
Goodwins’ success continues to grow, despite having quite a pared-down team compared to years past. At one stage, Ashley recounts, there were night on 100 people working for the company; the decision to cut down to just 25 was part of a deliberate strategy that focuses on the quality of their service versus “bums in seats.” In July of 2022, Catherine, Ashley’s son Brendan, and his wife Aleina who both previously worked in property businesses in Australia, spearheaded Goodwins’ move back into real estate sales.
“We’re running the Navy SEALs of selling, is how we’ve rebuilt that team,” says Catherine, with Ashley adding that his son and the small team have done “extremely well.”
“Even though it’s only a small team of 3 at the moment,” he says, “that team will continue to grow over the years, and that’s another string to the bow for Goodwins.”
Regardless of whether a staff member shares a surname with Ashley and Catherine, both father and daughter are firm in regarding each person who works at Goodwins as family. Doing their best by their team and seeing employees succeed, they say, is a major motivator.
“Dad and I get up every day and we’re responsible for the 23 other people who we employ,” says Catherine. “If we get that wrong, that is significant. So, you end up being boosted by wanting to be successful for your team. The better we are in leadership, the better our team will perform.”
It’s clear that the Goodwins approach to business and leadership has paid off, evident in what Ashley and his team have achieved in his 50-year career.
“In my earlier years of sales management and franchise membership, we won No. 1 Real Estate Office in New Zealand 13 times — little Mount Albert competing against all of New Zealand,” he recalls proudly. “Another time, we ended up featuring 5th in Australasia. I’ve been in the business 50 years, and there are lots of people I’ve known over the years who are no longer in the business, but we’re still recognised — not just in Mount Albert, but across Auckland.”
Congratulations to Ashley on an incredible career so far, and all the best to Ashley, Catherine and the Goodwins team in continuing the legacy they have worked so hard to build.
For more information or to speak to a member of the Goodwins team about your real estate or property management needs, visit goodwins.co.nz.