RT EDGAR – RICH IN HISTORY
18 September 2017
Whilst many people are aware that RT Edgar is a renowned brand synonymous with prestige real estate, not many have the full knowledge of the history it holds. It has stood the test of time, rising through global historic and economic events and maintains its quality reputation across the state, over 120 years on from its inception. We met with Franchise Director, Warwick Anderson, who insightfully shares the RT Edgar story.
Robert Thomas Edgar founded his company as a local Hawthorn real estate agency situated in Glenferrie Road adjoining the railway bridge in 1896. He briefly had a partner, a Mr Hunt during the early years of the twentieth century and the firm’s name became RT Edgar & Hunt for a short while. He then took in his son Jack and the firm name became RT Edgar and Son, which name continued through to the end of the 1970’s.
During the early 1930’s depression, Jack Edgar persuaded a friend of his, Colin Anderson, to join the firm and together this younger generation grew the company to be active outside the regional Hawthorn locale, and to include suburbs such as Toorak, the city, Armadale, Malvern and Kew at a time when the large estates in these areas were being sold off in subdivisions during the late years of the great depression. These wealthy clients often had their holiday houses on the Mornington Peninsula, particularly Portsea and Sorrento, and RT Edgar & Son became active in these areas as well. By the end of the 1930’s Jack Edgar and Colin Anderson had made significant inroads in establishing themselves as a leading agency in these areas.
Then the commencement of World War II in 1939-1940 put everything on hold. Colin Anderson represented his country in the war theatres of North Africa and the Pacific and didn’t return until 1945. By that time, Jack Edgar wanted a life change and purchased a farm at Moorooduc on the Mornington Peninsula. Colin then purchased the company from his father Robert Edgar who then retired. Thus, Colin became the sole proprietor of RT Edgar & Son in the post war period and took on two young individuals being John Geake and Harold Clapp, son of Sir Harold Clapp who built up the Victorian Railways as Chairman of Commissioners during the early part of the Twentieth Century.
John Geake became a qualified valuer and Harold Clapp became one of Melbourne’s most celebrated auctioneers. The firm had a very good grounding with the three colleagues being approximately a decade apart each in age therefore covering a twenty-year spread, a consideration still taken into account today with existing partners. The company grew from strength to strength through the 1950’s and 1960’s. By the 1970’s, new rival companies were beginning to appear as a split off’s from traditional rivals such as Abercromby and Beatty, and K. Gardiner and Lang. At this point, Colin Anderson then in his 60’s, sold down some of his shareholding to include Harold Clapp and John Geake as partners. At this time, the name was changed to RT Edgar (VIC) P/L, the “& Son’ was dropped because Jack Edgar had decided to get back into real estate but so as to avoid conflict with his father’s old firm, set up a commercial agency in the city and called it J.V. Edgar & Co. and had his son Jonathan (grandson of R.T. Edgar) working for him.
During the early 1970’s to combat the newly emerging competitors such as Kay & Burton, Marshall White and Bundred & Co, RT Edgar took on new, younger salesmen catering for the post war ‘baby boomers’ who were now actively playing the Melbourne real estate market. After the late 1960’s mining boom crash, property boomed through till the next credit squeeze in 1975-1976. RT Edgar was by then, one of the foremost ‘South Eastern Suburb’ agencies. Colin Anderson continued to work through till his death in in 1979. Warwick Anderson joined as a junior cadet first at Portsea only, then in Melbourne in 1974 completing his real estate license by 1978. Following Colin’s death, John Geake and Harold Clapp took over, with John as Managing Director.
The 1980’s continued to be a boom time, particularly the late 1980’s leading to the inevitable crash of 1989-1990. Following the worst years of 1991-1992, the company was restructured in 1993 to include new directors Jeremy Fox, who transferred from “Bundred & Co.” who had previously split from Marshall White. Bundred’s rent roll was purchased by RT Edgar to help cash flow during the lean years of the early 1990’s. Jeremy Fox emerged as the best salesman in these times and became a Director in 1993. One of the salesman working in Toorak at the time, Peter Cordner, decided he wanted a ‘sea change’ to Point Lonsdale and it was decided to partner him with Ian Friend, brother in law of Tony Carty, one of the Toorak Directors and instrumental in building up the rent roll in the early 1990’s when sales were still recovering from the 1989-1991 slump. Thus, Point Lonsdale, together with Portsea, became separate offices and effectively the first RT Edgar “franchises”.
During the late 80’s the office of RT Edgar moved from its long time St Kilda Road address (after the original post war CBD office at 108 Queens Street) to 1 Tintern Avenue in Toorak, thus establishing itself back in the suburbs for the first time since the Hawthorn office closed. In 1996, it moved to the present address of 10 Wallace Avenue. Gradually during the middle and late 90’s the firm rebuilt again and by the turn of the millennium, had resumed its position as one of the foremost South-East Suburb agencies. The directorship, after some changes, became a solid triumvirate of Jeremy Fox, Warwick Anderson and Michael Ebeling. Seeing the company succeed as well as it did during the early 2000’s attracted people to want to become part of the RT Edgar brand in other areas, particularly the outer semi-country areas of high standing, other than the existing Mornington and Bellarine Peninsula offices.
Thus we opened our Yarra Valley, Macedon Ranges and Alpine offices, covering essentially a full 360 degree circle of recreational property up to approximately a 1.5 hour drive from the city. The northern Mornington Peninsula was also split from the southern peninsula Portsea office, with a new office in Flinders and subsequently in Rye. All of which catered for many of our city client’s recreational homes and has proved very successful. Following on from this, new inner-city franchises were created, first in Brighton, then Hawthorn, Albert Park and more recently, Williamstown, Monash, Caulfield and soon to be – Carlton. This will then complete the inner suburb area. All the Directors of our franchises are like-minded people with dedication, integrity and intimate knowledge of their respective areas. Our non-invasive ethos of running a franchise provides encouragement and cooperation.
The head office in Toorak is continuing to employ new, young, enthusiastic colleagues who will become the next generation of Directors. On the traditional side, the great grandson of RT Edgar, young Jack Edgar is also a member of the team. Our project division, under Toorak Director Mark Wridgway, has grown exponentially over the last three to four years. Other Toorak Directors Anthony Grimwade and most recently, our youngest ever Director, Oliver Booth, have extended the contribution to ensure RT Edgar continues to succeed at the top-end of Victoria’s real estate market.