BUILDING HER DREAM AND HER CLIENTS’ DREAMS
Words By Janie Barton
Photo By Tracey Hayes | AZURE PHOTOGRAPHY
From drawing houses, designing rooms and visiting display homes when she was a young child, Charmaine Matthews always dreamed of being in the building industry. Not only did she achieve that dream through hard work over the years, she rose to the top.
“No one in my family was in the building industry,” said Charmaine, who is now the joint owner/director of Austart Homes. “Since I was 10 years old I was just fascinated in designing and decorating homes and loved going to display homes with my relatives who were looking at building a home. I also helped my father build our house on the Gold Coast when I just started drafting in the building industry.
“I never took my eye from my dream, and at the age of 20 I finished my Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Architectural Technology on the Gold Coast and have immersed myself into the building industry ever since.”
She started working for Newstart Homes, now called Austart Homes, in 1993 and four years later was offered the opportunity to set up the Cairns operation with now-husband Phillip Matthews. Together, the two created a highly successful business that has expanded and builds in Port Douglas, Innisfail and the Tablelands.
“I love everything about the industry,” said Charmaine, whose passion is so deep that she returned to work just four days after her son was born. “I‘ve always loved working in the industry, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. What I love the most is helping people make their dreams come true.”
Along her journey, Charmaine worked tirelessly to become proficient in every aspect of the business including sales, contract administration, drafting, accounts, estimating and supervising jobs. She also attained her Queensland Builders’ License and is also a Building Designer with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
Charmaine, Phillip and their team of professionals pride themselves on their reputation for designing and building homes to suit all budgets and lifestyles. Their hand-on approach to each project is highly appreciated by their clients, many of who recommend Austart and also return to have the team build them another home.
Phillip’s passion for the industry also started when he was just a boy and he watched houses being built from the age of five. Both husband and wife also share the beliefs that setting goals and being positive are hallmarks of success.
“Each year I write what I want to achieve on my mirror in my ensuite in red lipstick – it doesn’t matter what brand,” Charmaine said. “My husband taught me to write down my goals, and he has taught many others, and I believe if you keeping looking at something every day you will manifest it and make it happen. It doesn’t have to be a mirror; it could be on a piece of paper at work that you see every day.”
While men mainly dominated the industry when she first started, Charmaine has never had a problem fitting in. Her knowledge and thirst for knowledge has earned her the respect of all of her colleagues. Plus, her cheerful, bubbly and positive nature gains her legions of fans.
She would, however, like to see more females in the industry.
“There are a lot more women involved today, but I think we need more,” she said. “I’d like to see more female carpenters, plumbers and electricians.
“Our project manager that runs all our jobs on site, who has been fully trained by myself and Phil, is female and does a great job. She can have up to 15 jobs at a time.”
Her and Phillip’s relationship has only strengthened by working and living together for over 25 years.
“We’re always talking about building,” she laughed. “We’re always thinking about the next display home or another design. When we go overseas we take photos of buildings and furniture and are inspired by different architecture and interior designs we see on our travels. Building is something we both just love.
“We want to keep building more homes in the Far North Queensland area. We’re always coming up with new ideas, new designs and new displays. We just love bringing new ideas to people.”
Not only is Charmaine proud of the business, she’s proud that Austart is helping to contribute to the city’s economy.
“When we build a home, this helps employ local trades and supports local suppliers, and we keep our staff employed,” she said. “Everyone makes money, and this helps to keep Cairns growing as well.
“To be successful you also have to have a financial goal and then reward yourself.”
2/2 Mount Milman Dr, Smithfield
Ph: 4038 3855
Old Port Rd, Port Douglas Display Home
Visit Any Austat Homes Display Homes at there 3 locations
Mt Peter Estate – Edmonton
Smithfield Village Estate – Smithfield
Old Port Rd – Port Douglas
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