“Back then, I was a salesman with an interest in property development and Matt was a builder. I picked up a section on terms, and he built our first house”, says Peter Cooney of the beginning of what is now Classic Group.
Home to an integrated collection of businesses that includes Classic Builders, one of New Zealand’s largest residential construction companies, the Group’s additional businesses strongly support each other with expertise and capabilities in land development, commercial construction, fund investment, property investment and syndication, technology development, and health & safety.
Directors Peter Cooney and Matt Lagerberg began their journey as Classic Builders in 1996 in the Bay of Plenty and have always believed that Kiwis deserve the opportunity to own their own home.
“It’s difficult to fathom how far we have come when I consider where we started. In its’ simplest form, I guess Classic’s success comes from the focus and drive Matt and I have always shared to be the best at what we do and for the result to be positively impactful to people”, says Peter.
Matt believes that being clear on the company’s values and the client experience to be delivered every time has been paramount to ensuring the success of Classic Builders.
“Building a home for someone, knowing it is their dream and biggest investment, is a humbling experience because there is so much trust involved. You have to get it right. And there is nothing better than handing over the keys at the end of a job well done,” he says.
“Classic has been a journey of discovery and continuous problem solving. Operating in a highly complex industry, it’s our ability to evolve, pivot, and diversify that has got us through many property cycles, the GFC, and more recently the pandemic,” he says.
Today and Tomorrow.
Being a nation-wide company, having built over 6500 homes and developed over4000 lots of land to date, Classic Group’s current land supply exceeds 3000 sections, and this is set to increase rapidly with the recent establishment of a $300 million dollar partnership with New Zealand Super Fund, Kaha Ake.
“Operating in a cyclic industry (where supply and demand is governed by unpredictable economic, demographic, and social factors) means that over commitment (or lack-of) can have a critical impact on maintaining a healthy pipeline of work, work that supports the livelihood of our team and the much wider Classic network of subcontractors and suppliers,” says Peter.
This partnership, Kaha Ake, will allow Classic to sustain the waves of property cycles and help drive transformational change through the enablement of large-scale development. It will bring momentum, help solve infrastructure issues, and deliver a future pipeline of housing supply for New Zealanders that is so desperately needed.
With a keen interest in industry innovation, Matt is excited for what lies ahead.
“The sector is tangled in a web of issues and there is endless opportunity to be gained and efficiencies to be made by challenging the way we create and build new communities,” says Matt.
“Affordability and supply prevent thousands of New Zealanders from owning their own home, something every Kiwi inherently wants to realise. We are investing in research and development to improve this, to not only considering the way we build and the products we use, but by considering social and environmental impact from the outset.” he says.
Always looking for opportunities to diversify and grow, Classic Group maintains a strong focus on technology, digitalisation, and people.
“The Group’s purpose is defined as building a better life for people, every day, and it is something we strive to achieve with every strategic partnership we form and the moves we make. Whether that be for our clients and residents, investors and partners, suppliers and subcontractors, or our own team of over 300 people – we are acutely aware that Classic’s existence is based on people. And they must come first,” says Matt.
Never considering they would ever achieve what they have, Peter and Matt now have the confidence to look much further beyond today – beyond the next decade – and consider the legacy business they want to leave behind.
“Classic will outlive us and, so long as it continues to build better lives for people, we will be happy,” says Matt.