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 LJ's grandson, LJ Hooker's Chief Executive Officer, Leslie Janusz Hooker.
Today, LJ Hooker Limited is one of the largest real estate agency franchise systems in Australasia with 700 franchises across Australia and New Zealand, and a growing platform in Asia. In keeping with LJ's tradition of trailblazing, the company is poised to be the real estate leader of the next century.
The original LJ Hooker
Office at Maroubra, NSW