Catch-up with Ossie Symonds

With the recent sad passing of the Collier Homes founder, Raymond McCarthy, I caught up with Ossie Symonds, his close friend and colleague, who worked for Collier Homes between 1968 and 1978, initially as CFO, and then as GM. Ossie was quick to mention right upfront, the very strong values that Ray possessed, which were based on truth and loyalty and of his country boy attitude to things.

Collier Homes was registered in 1959 by Raymond McCarthy, who lived on Collier Street in Ardross. He also spoke of the most humble beginnings of Collier Homes, as a builder initially working on government housing projects and its rapid expansion into the project home market. As CFO, his early tasks included focusing the business around residential building and moving away from commercial and modular construction. The first display home “The Norwood” evolved to become “The Parmelda”, which was a very popular design.

Ray sold the business to land developer, Development Underwriting Limited in 1969, following which he focussed his attention on unit development. Development Underwriting, were the developers of the Burrendah estate and the 'spaceship' previously located in Glennon Park, which was erected to advertise the subdivision.

Ossie, spoke fondly of the industry, the early years of the Housing Industry Association, the larger than life characters, and all the former Collier Homes employees who became major industry players in their own rights. He also spoke of the enduring friendships and bonds between the Collier Homes team members and regular get togethers of retired Collier Homes executives. Ossie mentioned that most recently Ray had expressed his satisfaction that the company he created continued and that it had evolved and matured to the point where it was today.

Ray McCarthy and Ossie Symonds are both building industry legends.

In honour of its founder, Collier Homes has just named one of its new narrow block two storey designs “The McCarthy”.

Dario Amara FIEAust, CPEng, NER, APEC Engineer, IntPE(Aus) is a second-generation builder, experienced construction and engineering executive and chartered professional engineer with some 40 years' of industry experience.

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