Barrow Property Group

The Barrow Group: Five Generations of Construction in South Africa
Oxford and Glenhove at Night, Courtesy of the Barrow Group

The first John Barrow arrived in South Africa in 1897. Johannesburg, at that time, was a small mining town. He and his son were carpenters from Barrow in England, and that’s how the Barrow Property Group started, as a small carpentry shop.

Since then, the company has steadily grown in size and scope, and there have always been Barrows at the helm moving the business forward. Today, it’s John Barrow, his two brothers, Collin and Donald, and their two cousins, Paul and Neil. There are five Barrows in this fifth-generation family business.

Over the course of its 121-year history, the Barrow Property Group grew from a small carpentry shop into one of South Africa’s leading property management and construction companies. Now in its fifth generation, the firm is responsible for building many of Johannesburg’s iconic properties and letting much of the city’s most desirable office space.

A culture of equality has enabled the five Barrows currently managing the group to successfully navigate the complexities of South Africa’s property market while at the same time avoiding some of the pitfalls that hamper other family businesses. Pursuing realistic expectations with a hands-on approach has been essential to the company’s longevity.