Change was coming

Dear Brian

I came back to work at the beginning of 1986 full of hope and optimism.

We were making some headway with the development of our current offices and a lot of the animosity towards your ownership of ERA had dissipated.

There were still circles within the ERA group particularly in Queensland, where you were viewed with suspicion, your competence was questioned as a person who had simply taken over the family business.

I was seeing a different side of Brian White, I was seeing a man of quiet competence, but in some ways, a very nervous man. The costs and maintenance of ERA were mounting without any major growth in the number of offices to show for this adventure outside your Queensland comfort zone.

The pressure to grow the business, was at times intense and we all felt it.

Michael did a good job of shielding us from the worst of your pressure, but smiles and handshakes could not hide the intense discussions which often took place in the Milson’s Point office.

There were many nights when we were meant to have assembled a group of potential franchisees, you were here to address them and the final attendance, despite what we had been promised, was less than underwhelming.

I would be devastated and you had a very specific way of indicating your disappointment. This period was taking its toll on my confidence and undoubtedly, was adding to my own set of pressures at home.

Sas was seeing me come home late at night dejected at the lack  of cut through we were achieving, and  then waking up to see that I had crept out early for yet another appointment or breakfast meeting.

There were many times during 1986 when I questioned what I was doing and why I was doing it. In hindsight selling houses seemed like a ridiculously easy way to earn money.

My time away from the family was taking its toll on the kids. It may be more honest to say my time at home was taking its toll on my relationship with the kids. I was perpetually tired and impatient with the most important people in my life.

There were nights during the year when Michael was not with us, that I would be exposed to your withering critique after another failed recruiting effort.

We would go for coffee or dinner and talk honestly about whether this business, in its present format could be saved and built.

Towards the end of 1986, it was becoming evident that major structural change was needed and often these discussions took a turn towards the unthinkable.

We spoke of merging the two businesses under the one Ray White banner, this would have been sacrilege to me only a few short months ago, but slowly I was coming to the realization we had to do something if we were to save what you had bought.

My chats with you were a challenge, borne out of respect, the same could not be said about the times when your brother Paul was in Sydney.

I hated going to work if I knew Paul was going to be there, his attempts to assert his authority within the group were painful to watch.

Paul was an empty dinghy bobbing along in your in your wake. Being held to account by a guy who I did not respect was galling, Michael handled Paul much better than I and most times when I knew he was coming, I would make myself scarce.

Your father was not really  a major factor but I found his presence disconcerting, I often wondered whether he really believed in what you were trying to do.

Alan and I never really liked each other, this animosity would grow over the years.

This was a tough year Brian; I am not sure why I stayed. Loyalty to you was at least part of the answer.

I do know one thing for sure; it was not about the money. I had recently sat down with Pykey to do my tax for 1985 – 1986. I had to put up with his withering questions as to why I had uprooted everything and everyone to earn less than half what I had earned the year before.

I muttered something about creating the future and he raised those formidable eyebrows to indicate his disapproval.

Maybe I just believed.

Best Wishes

Bruce

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