LJ Hooker's Heritage, History and Brand
Back in 1928 my grandfather, Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker, started his first business as a real estate agent. He was 24 years old.
An orphan, he came from a poor background. But, as with many immigrants to Australia his work ethic was strong and determined in an era when the foundations for Australia’s future economic prosperity were laid.
Throughout his long career, he kept on his desk a framed quote from US President Coolidge. It read: "nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
My grandfather stood by these words through the Great Depression, a world war and years of property market ups and downs. But he never lost his nerve. And he stood firm in his belief that he was building a company that could sit at the heartland of Australian society – to help people find their way home.
In 1973, he was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his service to commerce and the community in Australia.
Today, as a forward-thinking real estate agency with a new generation of customers, employees, franchise owners and shareholders, I know that my grandfather’s persistence, determination and success remains a foundation stone of the LJ Hooker philosophy. A philosophy that has drawn some incredibly talented people into our company. And one that continues to shape the future of real estate.
We look forward to you being part of our future story.
L. Janusz Hooker
LJ Hooker has an exciting and impressive heritage of innovation, perseverance and bold decision-making.
The company's strong people-focused culture was established and defined by its founding visionary: Leslie Joseph "LJ" Hooker. A constant innovator, entrepreneur and devotee of best practice, he changed the way real estate business was conducted in Australia.
Born with the name Tingyou and of Chinese heritage, LJ was from Canterbury, Sydney. He was orphaned at age 8 and by 13 had left school to work as a clerk. He had saved and bought his first property by age 16, and at 18 he was appointed purser of a trading ship that travelled the South Pacific.
Due to the social climate in Australia, LJ kept his ancestry a secret all his life and changed his name by deed poll to Hooker in 1925. Showing his entrepreneurial spirit early, LJ founded his real estate business in 1928, opening the first LJ Hooker Limited office in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra. After struggling through the Depression and World War II, he went on to build the largest real estate company in Australia. During the 1950s, 60s, and 70s LJ pioneered and shaped the Australian real estate landscape.
During the 1950s, LJ rapidly expanded his business to create a vast empire, which covered every aspect of real estate. In 1959 LJ started the first real estate investment trusts in Australia, which grew to 31 within a decade. During the same period his pastoral division became the largest private landowner in Australia (7.3 million acres; the same size as Taiwan).
By 1960 he had created the country's first national real estate agency network, and subsequently was the pioneer of franchising in Australia. In the same period he introduced the large format retail malls concept to Australia. By 1970 LJ's residential and commercial divisions were not only the largest sales and management agents in the country but also the largest home developers.
Although ambitious, LJ was a caring man, widely respected for responding to the needs of others. His ethical values and high standards were passed down to all staff. Employees at all levels of the company had a loyal allegiance to LJ, many staying with the company for over 40 years. LJ devoted much of his time and income to philanthropic endeavours, and was knighted in 1973 for services to commerce and the community.
In 2009, the company returned to the family by a consortium of private investors led by Sir Leslie’s grandson, LJ Hooker Chairman, Janusz Hooker.
In 2015 Janusz Hooker combined with a handful of existing shareholders to buyout the group of minority shareholders to consolidate our ownership base. In doing so, the company’s ownership now rests with a tight group of investors who are each strategically valuable to the company.
Today, LJ Hooker features one of the largest residential and commercial sales and property management teams in the industry with more than 8,000 sales professionals, property managers and support team members.
The LJ Hooker brand has a long and proud history. Since 1928 when Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker (LJ) first opened the doors of his office in Maroubra, Sydney he looked at ways to market the brand and sell property.
Without doubt LJ was an ideas man and he had a natural flair for marketing. LJ wanted to grab attention and his red and yellow colour inspiration had come from his homeland, with its red earth and blazing yellow sun. LJ believed these colours were representative of Australia, the place where he wanted his business to grow.
He commissioned a Sydney sign-writing company called Art Nouveau to create the famous red and yellow Hooker sign. The bright, eye-catching colours were quite daring for the time.
For 25 years LJ Hooker has tracked the health of our brand through a National unprompted Brandtrack survey. We are pleased to say that we continue to be the strongest real estate brand in Australia (Galaxy survey 2015).
With such a rich heritage, the LJ Hooker brand is seen as an Australian icon.