Tony Pidgley of Berkeley Homes. This is a very short biography of the founder of Berkeley homes, Tony Pidgley. Like all of our biographies it comes at the subject solely from our point of view – what can we learn from this person or business that we can apply today in our business.
He was born 6 August 1947 in Surrey
Parents: His mum was a single mother, he was brought up in a Barnardo’s home. (Barnardo’s is a children’s charity).
Adoptive parents: He was adopted by Bill and Florence Pidgley, travellers living near Kingston upon Thames
Very little, he left school at 15
He worked with his adoptive family selling logs
They cut down trees, cut them into logs and sold them, he started driving lorries earl
He created a small haulage business with a small fleet of lorries
He worked as a landscape gardener and saved up enough money for his first lorry. He then started his own haulage business collecting up to forty vehicles.
He then sold this business to the house builder Crest and took a job with them. (Crest are now known as Crest Nicholson)
In 1976 he was sacked from Crest (or he left) and set up his own house building operation with Jim Farrer who was working with him at Crest.
He formed a housebuilding company, Berkeley Homes (now Berkeley Group)
They built houses on small sites never building more than one hundred homes a year. They floated on the unlisted securities market and grew to building up to 600 houses a year.
He foresaw this crash and planned accordingly. He sold all his properties fast. After the crash he bought up sites around London at bargain prices.
There is a story that says he sold his properties once a customer bought him a crate of champagne because they had just made £100,000 on a house he had sold them.
By 1991 he was buying land cheap and was able to move into building in and around London.
He foresaw this and planned accordingly. Again sell as much as you can, and then buy once the property market is in a slump and prices are low
He foresaw the increase in popularity of city living and bought brownfield sites in London
He developed riverside units
He partnered with local councils
Uneducated, great negotiator, hard worker
Interested in horse dressage
Married with two children. Married in 1966 and divorced in 1999.
His son Tony tried unsuccessfully to take over the business
New wife in 2001, two children
He passed away 26 June 2020, he was 72
Lesson 1 – Repeatedly we find in our biographies that education does not matter. It does not harm of course but it will not stop the top businessmen from succeeding
Lesson 2 -Trade is a great way of making money. His family made ends meet when they were selling logs. His first business was a simple haulage business
Lesson 3- Be aware of the property cycle. There will be boom and there will be bust. Sell at boom level and buy at bust level. It takes a couple of years for the cycles to change so be patient.
Lesson 4 – Try avoid separation and divorce. Apart from the personal aspect it is is killer to your finances
Lesson 5 – People die early. He passed away at 72 which is early enough. You have to make it count.