History

From humble beginnings to becoming one of Australia's most respected figures in property development and home building has been an interesting journey for Bert Dennis.

The second youngest of five children, Bert was raised in rather impoverished conditions by his mother. By the time he was thirteen, he had lived in fifteen different houses and by the time he finished school at 21, he had attended 19 different schools.

Bert looks back on this time as allowing him to make his own way and fend for himself. He says it also taught him from an early age to be very self reliant, determined and capable. If he wanted something he had to either make it himself or repair someone else’s cast off.

A passion and keen ability in baseball and the desire to be part of the Under 18 Victorian Schoolboys side was the motivating force which influenced Bert to stay at school. He achieved his aim, making the Under 18 team as pitcher and was given the captaincy on the interstate train journey to Adelaide.

Bert completed his education and attained a Diploma in Civil Engineering. He has maintained a lifelong interest in baseball and is a Life Member of the Coburg Baseball Club.

In 1955 Bert met Dawn Hicks and they were married in 1958. The couple have four children - Adele, Grant, Natalie and Marshall.

It was whilst working at the Heidelberg City Council in 1956 that Bert realised what he wanted to do was become a Consulting Engineer. In order to achieve this goal, his plan was to continue at night school and pass the exams to be qualified to become a Municipal Engineer. The next phase of his plan was to gain the necessary four years engineering experience (six months of which had to be structural) by the age of 24, then progressively become a Shire Engineer, Deputy City Engineer, City Engineer at 40 years of age, make a lot of contacts, and then become a Consulting Civil Engineer.

However as good luck, good timing and a lot of front would have it, Bert became the Acting Deputy City Engineer and then Deputy City Engineer with the City of Chelsea. At just 22, this put him in the position he had aspired to be in by the time he was 35 years of age.

Bert began the journey of what is today the Dennis Family Corporation in April 1960 when he joined Oscar Flight, a retired City Engineer, in a civil engineering consultancy partnership.

Bert's first foray into property development involved the progressive purchase, renovation and eventual sale of 12 houses in Melbourne.

In 1965, Bert's business partner retired, and Bert and Dawn purchased the company outright putting Bert in the position of owning a consulting practice at just 29 - many years ahead of his original plan. In 1968, Bert embarked on his first small scale land development, with no partners - a 3ha parcel in Ringwood.

These were the early steps in what has been a remarkable journey for Bert and the business he and Dawn created.

Over the years, the company has had several well-known home building brands, has developed hundreds of hectares of land into residential communities, has had business ventures in China and New Zealand, and has diversified its interests into activity in other sectors of the property industry.

A 100 percent family-owned business, the Dennis Family Corporation is the parent company of Dennis Family Homes and is project manager for several masterplanned residential estates. In Victoria, the company project manages Manor Lakes, Modeina and Westbrook in Melbourne’s west, The Hunt Club in Cranbourne East and Ashbury at Armstrong Creek, near Geelong. In Queensland, the company manages Huntington Rise residential land estate at Maudsland in the Gold Coast hinterland, Summerlin, an apartment and townhouse mixed development at Banyo in Brisbane’s north, and Maroochy Place, a townhouse development at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

The company is also expanding its residential product range with an exciting new high density project - Radiance, which is a proposed 20-storey apartment building on Chevron Island, Gold Coast currently in the approval phase.

Amongst the company’s many successful developments from the recent past are the Burnside and Rose Grange estates in Victoria and Northquarter and Pioneer Valley in Queensland.

The last sale of the initial residential development at Burnside in Melbourne’s west was effected in 2007. Dennis Family Corporation is currently developing the last available land parcel in Burnside. The project, Modeina, will eventually deliver in excess of 900 lots in total, creating an 88-hectare community accommodating a proposed population of 2,500 people.

Rose Grange is a well established masterplanned community in Tarneit, 25 minutes west of the Melbourne CBD and home to more than 3,000 residents. The last of the estate’s 1,436 lots was sold and settled in November 2011. The Dennis family has formed a development partnership with the owners of 343 hectares of land adjoining Rose Grange. This project is known as Westbrook and it is anticipated that this land will yield approximately 3,000 lots.

Northquarter is a 50 hectare residential community located 30 minutes north of the Brisbane CBD at Murrumba Downs. The Dennis Family Corporation transformed what once was a pineapple plantation into a prestigious boutique estate which is now home to approximately 1,500 people.

Following completion of Northquarter, Dennis Family Corporation created Northquarter Place, with the specific aim of establishing a new benchmark in contemporary townhouse living.  This 138-unit complex is a fully-maintained community, which was constructed over 5 stages and completed in mid-2016.

Bert Dennis has enjoyed many successes in his professional career and personal life. Amongst his many notable achievements, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in January 2005 for his service to the land and housing industries, to the community through contributing to debate on urban planning and for his support of charitable organisations.

Bert continues to holds the position of Chairman of the company he founded and has been joined in the business by all four of his adult children and several of his eleven grandchildren.

Read more about Bert's story in the attached articles:

The Age 8 April 2015 – Success comes from putting business last

Australian Financial Freview 28-29 March 2015 – Dennis dogma: health comes first

Business Spectator 6 February 2014 – How the Dennises built a business for the generations

Issue 16 of Residential Developer Magazine

Herald Sun Home Magazine Saturday 16 October 2010