Richard Cook

Click on an image for a larger view

I have read with amazement and admiration the positions of influence, the travel and the work that has been achieved by so many since leaving NSBHS. It is truly inspiring stuff. I had a poor result at the 1961 Leaving Certificate and repeated in 1962. After leaving NSBHS I attempted Engineering at Sydney University but failed a year and in those days if you failed and your National Service number was drawn, you were drafted into the army or that is how it was with me. About 10 days before call up, hoping to make the most of the coming 2 years, I bought a Penguin book on IQ tests. I knew it backwards, and was picked for officer training. However to the relief of guys like Tim Ford and Chris Barrie but maybe not others, I was, after a warning by a very polite colonel, who had the position of "Commandant", dismissed from the unit because I had no "killer instinct". He was right. As a young 21 year old, I was just too easy going, too "nice" and not hungry.

While I was in the army I bought, with a good mortgage, some real estate which was a real "fly by the seat of your pants" decision. So I decided to do a valuation course to understand what I had done and what real estate was all about. Anyone who bought real estate in the late 1960's could not go wrong and before long I had realised the advantages of "gearing" real estate investments on a rising market, long before it became a popular word in the 1980's.

In 1970 I married Margaret who has been my wife, best friend and supporter for the last 31 years. We have 3 children, Michelle 1973 a chemical engineer but works in the e-commerce field as a project manager, Stephen 1975 a chartered accountant who has gone into full time Christian ministry and Brad 1978 also an accountant but works in the finance marketing field.

After discharge, I worked for the National Mutual property section putting together purchase lease back agreements and then in agency as a property manager for Richardson and Wrench. I then worked for the Department of Main Roads buying up land for freeway and road construction until political change caused the slowing of this work in the late 1970's and early 80's. Margaret and I then set up a property development company. After the early 1990's downturn and a close shave, where we did not lose money but at the same time did not make reasonable profits, we set up a valuation practice with less capital risk. We value most classes of real estate particularly commercial, retail and some industrial but the work is mainly residential mortgage.

As we all know, life is never plain sailing and around 1980 I became fairly deaf, although I cope well with a good set of hearing aids. In the late 1980's I became very depressed. This was inexplicable. I had a good marriage, good cashflow, stable and obedient kids (as far as is possible) and I was very fit, but I had depression. This was unpleasant for people around me as I was not withdrawn but aggressive to other people. Maybe I was making up for the lack of "killer instinct" in my early 20's. Fortunately I had a good supporting wife and good help from our Chris Tennant and without this support I would not have been able to manage the business.

I have been active in the Australian Property Institute and have been chairman of the Mid City Valuers Group on two occasions. Our kids have left home, with the exception of our youngest who is only at home occasionally and we have recently decided it is time for a different lifestyle. No more working 12-14 hour days! Time to downsize and take a more laid back approach to life and to do a bit of travelling or maybe after the next real estate downturn, go back into the property development work.