We recently had the chance to sit down with the founder of Climber Property, Grace Hu. Hailing from Hunan Province China, before moving to New Zealand and launching herself into the world of property management Grace has grown, over the past 14 years, to dominate the property management market within the Chinese community in Auckland. She’s now expanding and revamping her brand with a philosophy of social responsibility and creating equitable housing. I was excited to dive in and get to know the face behind the brand.
Interviewer: This is obviously not your first time in Property Management. You were a co-founder of the successful Gralin Property Management Group. So why are you starting all over again and can you tell us a little bit more about Climber Property?
Grace: It’s a very good question – I knew that Gralin as well as myself had a lot more to give. I’ve been running a successful property management company for 14 years but Climber Property’s ethos is not just about maximising monetary returns. We are in a fortunate position of being able to run a successful business that can also give back – and that’s exactly what I aim to do with Climber Property.
Interviewer: I have heard you speak today, and before, about the importance of a business within its community. Tell me, when you’re looking at your own impact in a community, what are you trying to do? What are the actualities of ‘giving back’?
Grace: The community’s needs are varied and long reaching – we are in the midst of a housing crisis that is affecting Kiwi’s from all walks of life. We need to see genuine support – both financial and boots on the ground; we don’t need polish, we need results. We want to give all of ourselves; our resources, experiences and our heart. That is why we carefully select who we work with and our values need to align.
It’s not just about donation, it’s about a partnership of real intention. We recently began working with the RASNZ who assist refugees and asylum seekers to re-settle into New Zealand. As well as assisting with finding properties, we help them with furniture which our existing tenants donate to help get them set up. This is an exciting partnership that we cannot wait to get into more.
Interviewer: Obviously there are many Property Managment brands out there already. You could have easily set up under one of their umbrella brands – what made you want to create something new?
Grace: I’ve always needed to be able to represent (and stand by) my own brand and beliefs. In this world of rapid change you need to be able to dump baggage and adapt and that wouldn’t work if I wasn’t the captain of my own ship. I always want to surpass expectations, improve service and create new opportunities and that’s what I am doing with Climber Property. The benefit of experience cannot be underestimated but freedom and flexibility must be paramount as well. My inner voice is my guide and holds me up to my own personal, business and ethical standards.
Interviewer: Success is a word which means different things to different people – what does success mean to you?
Grace: Success to me is reaching your goals and then finding a new mountain to climb – this is why the rebrand and Climber Property mean so much to me. There is no trick to success. It takes years of perseverance and perseverance is not as simple as it sounds. It requires confidence in your choices, patience alongside the courage to evolve and to not back down in the face of adversity. At the beginning ‘success’ feels so far away and your beliefs are shaken but perseverance has got me where I am today.
Interviewer: You are obviously a very strong and capable woman, you’ve had an incredible journey but in moments of self-doubt how do you build yourself back up? This is a big change for you and the brand – is there anything keeping you up at night?
Grace: By remembering there is so much happening that is bigger than me – I have a huge amount of gratitude and respect for what I have and for the people I work with. We’ve come this far and I must remember how lucky I am to do what I do, with the people I love. And of course I do worry, it can keep me up at night. When you start a new venture with an even higher summit to climb, worry will always be a part of that. It’s an enormous amount of work but you must remember you are in control of your own destiny and I know I can rely upon myself to get there.
Interviewer: There are always a million things a business owner must do, or wants to do. How do you decide what makes the list?
Grace: Over the years I have learnt that no matter how many things I want to do, the fact is I cannot do them all – focus is key and the big picture is my responsibility. This is why I am so grateful for the fantastic team around me – doing a little of one thing and not finishing it gets us nowhere. I look at what is going to have the biggest impact on my clients and my team before diving in and seeing it to the end.
Interviewer: With the path you’ve taken there must have been missteps along the way – tell me about your mistakes?
Grace: Oh, yes, I’ve made many mistakes and I’ve been hurt many times along the way. What is that saying? No ship sailing on the sea is without scuffs and wounds. But every mistake is a lesson, a step towards improving. You get over it, get back to work and get on with your life.
Interviewer: On that note – Grace, it has been a pleasure! I can tell you are a woman who works with her heart on her sleeve and you’re not afraid of getting it wrong in the name of progress. I am excited to see what you and Climber Property do next, thank you for taking the time with us today.
Grace: Thank you for the opportunity.