In the autumn of 1907, Harry Wood and his wife Elizabeth moved their young family from Bald Hills, near Ballarat, to Swan Hill – in the heart of Northern Victoria’s Murray Valley.
He was then in his mid-30s and as a great horseman with a gifted eye for livestock, Harry (later known more affectionately as “H.A.”) was active in the sale and purchase of sheep and cattle and the properties on which they grazed both in North Western Victoria and the Western Riverina of New South Wales. This interest soon led H.A. to assisting clients with the sale and purchase of land and thus was born the real estate business of H.A. Wood & Co in 1908.
The transition from Harry to Ray
After the First World War, Wood & Co leased premises at 179 Campbell Street which remained the company’s headquarters for the next 42 years. The affluence of the roaring 20s was followed by the great depression and it was the strong work ethic and sound business acumen of H.A.’s eldest son Ray who steered Wood & Co through many tough years. H.A. died in 1954.
Ray was also a keen athlete and excellent tap-ruckman in Australian Rules Football. Together with his wife Cissy, they consolidated the company’s livestock and property agency. Their two boys, Alan and Bill, joined the family business and in the early 50s were partners in the firm with their father, Ray. Cissy was an active member of the Swan Hill community and followed H.A. with an Honorary Life Membership of the Swan Hill District Hospital.
Through floods, droughts and plenty of good times in-between, Wood & Co Real Estate continued its diversified operations as Swan Hill developed. In the mid-1940s, Wood & Co wound down its livestock involvement and focused on its core business – residential, commercial and rural real estate.
In the 1960s, the Wood family purchased the central commercial freehold at 199-201 Campbell Street (a former legal premises built by solicitor Edgar Davies) the location from which the business still operates today.
During the 50s and 60s, Ray and Cissy’s eldest son, Alan, served as a councillor, becoming the first city Mayor when Swan Hill was proclaimed a city in 1965. In the 1970s Alan commenced a long and successful career in state politics holding the seat as MLC for Swan Hill for nine years contributing much of the infrastructure that the people of Swan Hill and district still benefit from today. Ray died in 1986 and Alan in 2006.
The era of Bill
In the early 70s, Bill Wood (third generation) and his wife Jenny, took over the business and it continued to grow, cementing its position as one of Victoria’s leading regional agencies. The number of employees doubled as Bill developed specialised divisions and trained key staff in the sale and leasing of residential, rural and commercial real estate. During this period, all five of Bill & Jenny’s sons worked in some way, shape or form in the business with four of them progressing onto full-time work with Bill, learning the skills and ethics that would serve them through their individual real estate careers.
Brian takes the reins
Early in the 1990s, Bill retired from the business after 40 years and Bill and Jenny’s second son Brian, and his wife Lauren, became the fourth generation to own and operate Wood & Co. They embraced the dawn of enormous changes, with the advent of global marketing and technological advancement, to ensure the business remained best practice in real estate.
In 2008, Brian, Lauren and the team celebrated Wood & Co’s Centenary, recognising the achievement of 100 years of continual real estate agency practice in Swan Hill. An achievement which constitutes the oldest continuing family business in any field in Swan Hill.
Today, with a large team of trained and qualified consultants, operating from the recently expanded and refurbished office premises in central Campbell Street, Wood & Co stands, more than ever, committed to lead the way in real estate in Swan Hill & district.
Back in 1908, Wood & Co’s clients arrived by horse and cart. Today they arrive by email – and still receive the same friendly, personal and professional service that has become the company’s trademark.