(Originally published in the February 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - Hants Realty Ltd. feature)
Larry Matthews and his company are a throwback to the days when small country businesses dealt with friends and neighbours, ploughed their earnings back into the community, and knew how to handle the inevitable downturns.
Now celebrating its 35th year, Hants Realty Ltd. has had to readjust to changing circumstances over the years, but as its president, Matthews says he has learned to roll with the punches and is optimistic about the future.
He, his wife, two daughters and eight employees operate Hants Realty and Kimnet Internet and Print, providing clients with real estate services, financing, internet and print publishing from three offices along the 102 corridor in Elmsdale, Shubenacadie, and Stewiacke. He also operated a seasonal restaurant which has now been converted into a gift shop in Dutch Settlement.
“Our goal is to provide the best possible service or product to our customers who also happen to be our friends and neighbours… and they include some of the finest people you will ever meet,” boasts Matthews on his website.
As the oldest of seven boys whose father died early, Matthews learned to work at whatever was available, and after a stint in the Air Force worked as a labourer, carpenter, landscaper, woodcutter, appraiser and whatever else was available at the time. He went into the real estate business as a one-man operation in Elmsdale in 1975 and started Hants Realty in 1977.
By 1986 the company had seven offices in Nova Scotia. National business magazine PROFIT listed his firm as the 46th fastest growing company in Canada as part of its annual survey.
But three recessions later, Matthews says he has found his niche.
“Blessed with a good family,” with his wife looking after the books and his daughters helping with the internet and printing business, he’s now “lean and mean” and ready to meet the future.
And he thinks there is a good future in real estate, particularly with the optimism created by the recent announcement that Irving Shipyard will build the next generation of Canadian warships. Young Nova Scotians working in western Canada are starting to stake claims to properties here.
Matthews says it’s a challenging but exciting time to be in business and looks forward to the years to come.