This is a short biography of Peter Gilgan who founded a home building company in Toronto and made a billion dollars or two along the way.

Personal History

Born in Canada, he became a chartered accountant. He worked for numerous small to medium businesses obtaining an insight into how they operated learning from their mistakes and successes. In 1978 he built his first two homes in Burlingon, Ontario. He grew this business into the biggest private homebuilder in North America. He has constructed more than 100,000 homes in Canada and the USA. His company is called Mattamy after his first two children, Matt and Amy. He has now split his businesses into three separate structures:

1 – Mattamy homes Canada which is a homebuilder constructing houses and apartments in Canada

2 – Mattamy homes US which is a homebuilder constructing houses and apartments in of course, the USA

3- Mattamy asset management. This invests in blue chip businesses plus small start-ups

His new company Mattamy asset management will receive injections of cash from the Mattamy homes developments which will in turn be invested into non residential investments.

About Mattamy homes

They have built over 100,000 homes. They have built condos, town homes and even detached houses. It is building a city in Sarasota in Florida including a baseball stadium, a hospital, shopping centres and infrastructure. The company has huge land banks which it intends to develop over the coming decades.

Charity – he is a noted philanthropist. He gives large amounts to hospitals and is interested in grass roots organisations. His charity contributions include his own charity called the Peter Gilgan foundation. He has indicated he will not be giving away his total fortune as per Andrew Carnegie. His intention seems to be to keep it in the family probably through trusts so that it can keep creating jobs etc in the economy.

Personal- he is married with eight children. He likes cycling as a hobby.

Lessons we can learn from him:

Lesson 1: He has spoken about working for lots of small businesses and learning from their management styles. He identifies various management styles including management by:

  • Fear
  • Bumbling
  • Inspiration

Lesson 2: Management by inspiration. He says he believes in creating a deep belief in what the business is doing to inspire people. He wants staff to stay long-time and tries to give them life long careers.

Lesson 3: He believes in the goodness in providing housing. He believes it contributes to the overall health of society and community and we believe in that too.

Lesson 4: He believes that there is not enough availability in housing which leads to the unaffordability of houses. He sees planning delays as a reason for this.

Lesson 5: He sees young people as not wanting to get started on the housing market at the bottom. They want to enter in the mid-range or top.

Lesson 6: Do not be afraid to restructure your business. He has divested his businesses so that they are completely stand alone. He has commented that he felt his Mattamy homes business represented a risky strategy of having his eggs in one basket.

Lesson 7: The joy of a private company. Mattamy homes is a completely private business so they do not have to answer to anybody.