Hall of Fame Laureate – 2015 Kapiti – John O’Sullivan

A local lad, John O’Sullivan attending St Patrick’s School, Kapiti College and then St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. He studied Commerce at Victoria University before embarking on 14 years with Lion Breweries in hotel management, and then while his wife Rosie worked, spent what he calls his “best four years ever” at home with his children.

During this period, John began dabbling in property, and eventually started Summerset with the idea to create a retirement village community his grandmother would happily call home.
From beginnings on a Levin property, Summerset Village in Whanganui was born, followed by Kapiti and then Palmerston North.

John prides himself that in those early days’ trades and professional suppliers to Summerset were also encouraged to own shares in the company. Together with John’s straight approach, this ensured site relationships worked well even when the pressure came on. Throughout John’s 167 months at the helm of Summerset, its contractors were always paid on time.

By 2006 Summerset was a household name in New Zealand, comprised 10 villages and 3 land banks, and sold for a cool $125 million. Since its beginnings with this Kapiti man, Summerset has grown to where it is today a listed company with 25 villages nationwide.

Throughout his children’s years John, like may kiwi parents, helped out with the things that keep our community ticking. He was on the Board of Trustee’s for the primary school, the committee of the Waikanae Recreation Centre and a Treasurer for his local scout group. Today he is the Chair of the committee planning the relocation of the school and churches of Our Lady of Kapiti Parish to its new site on Milne Drive.

For the last 10 years, his Amnico Foundation has been involved in the support and education of youth. Among other things Amnico is the principal sponsors of Youth Quest, and has also helped put young men through St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. John says that of all the things he has done, he is most proud of the difference he is helping make in these young people’s lives.

As one of Kapiti’s most prominent businessmen, John credits the hard work of all the people who have helped to make Summerset so successful, especially CEO Norah Barlow. He believes strongly in supporting locals and putting back into the community. One of his key legacies so far is the many local companies that got their start in being suppliers to Summerset, that have built on this to create successful businesses in their own right.