Sisters taking property business to new heights

Macfar Property Management was started in 2007 by John McKeown in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, followed four years later with an expansion of the business to Dundalk.

Today this thriving enterprise has passed into the capable hands of the second generation – John’s daughters Adele Murray and Deborah O’Reilly, who successfully manage a number of commercial and residential developments in the North East region.

“I went to work with Dad in 2011, and then my sister came on board in 2015,” explains Adele on the company’s current status.

“Dad has retired from the business, so Deborah and myself are running it ourselves now. But Dad has always been an entrepreneur and is now involved in another business in Monaghan. That said, he is always on hand to help us when any situations arise where his experience is needed.” 

 As the man who got the business up and running on day one, John’s acquired knowledge provides a valuable source of solutions when the need arises.

“There will often be answers needed to something about work or service in a building – questions we would not have a ready answer for – but which he has at his fingertips. Dad’s forty years in property pretty much guarantees that he’ll have the right answer, regardless of the situation. He can quote case law off the top of his head, and can relate similar situations from the past and how they were handled.” 

While the second generation have stamped their own authority on Macfar Property Management – more than doubling client numbers in 10 years – the sisters have clearly discovered the most efficient methods of spreading the workload to best benefit the company.

“Deborah is a wonderful saleswoman and absolutely brilliant at bringing in new clients, whereas my strengths would be more to the administration side of the business. We are lucky that our individual skills work so well together – what I’m weak on, Deborah is good at, and vice versa. It’s a real team effort and works really well for us.” 

 With a background in accounting and tax, Adele found her way into the family business through that well-tested path – helping out here and there and slowly becoming more involved as time went on.

“I started by coming in just a few days a week just doing Dad’s books, and slowly began to really like the business. Gradually, as the business grew, we began to expand and found ourselves adding more staff. It really came together in a kind of organic way.” 

 Deborah, who had built up a good career in the telecommunications sector, also found herself drawn to the business, initially coming in, as Adele had, to lend a hand to an enterprise that was growing.

“It came to a point where the two of us had a sit down to discuss the possibility of taking on the business together – Deborah’s background in IT and mine in financials seemed a good combination, so we basically said we’d get into it together and see where it took us.” 

 Not only did the sisters commit to the family business, but they both also agreed to go back to college to properly prepare themselves for what could be a lifelong calling.

“We both committed to doing a full-time Masters course in Real Estate at DIT Bolton Street – and we actually did it together in 2015. It was, without a doubt, the best thing we ever did – a really intense year balancing college, work and family. 

“It was an incredible experience for both of us, really brought us together and focused us on what we wanted to do with the business going forward. It was an experience that has helped push Macfar Property management to where it is today.”