Torode Realty Advisors
In recent years, Alberta’s population has skyrocketed. According to new figures from Statistic Canada, as of July 2013, the provincial population now tops 4 million. The 1.08 percent growth rate in three months and influx of over 42,800 people in the last three months is the highest of any Canadian province.
One Alberta-based company that is supporting the population boom is Torode Realty Advisors (Torode). “We’re in a very interesting, dynamic market, every day is a new deal and there are so many new projects,” reveals John Torode, president and founder of Torode. “We’re knocking down strip centers that were only built 10 years ago, because the land is much more valuable as residential property and there are several new office towers with over 5 million feet of space just underway.”
Matching a Dynamic Market
The influx of young professionals in the province, particularly in Calgary, is a direct result of the country’s thriving oil industry. “Thousands of young people have come to the city in the last two years, everyone from engineers to senior officers and even foreign hires,” shares John. “Calgary is the oil center of Canada and the second largest corporate office city in the country. Banking is big, there’s an airport expansion taking place and construction and infrastructure projects everywhere. Calgary now has the highest number of head offices per capita.”
Torode has been filling Calgary’s real estate development needs for over 40 years. John, who was actually born in Texas, founded the company in 1973; 10 years ago, after years in the brokerage business, he started doing development.
“I’ve been in this market for a long time,” he notes. To-date Torode has syndicated over $600 million worth of commercial real estate to private investors: years of experience that prepared John to lead the residential development charge in Calgary.
“We’re a commercial and residential developer, but more recently, we’ve been focusing on attractive, modern apartment units,” explains John. “On behalf of investors, we work alongside general contractors. We’re the point man that deals with contractors and trades and we work hand-in-hand to create a relationship and manage costs effectively.”
As important as fostering relationships with contractors and subcontractors is Torode’s interaction with global manufacturers. “We’re buying as much as we can that’s factory made, from kitchens to wardrobes and wall panels; we’re trying to streamline the process,” explains John. “The last development we did, construction took 12 months and the next one will take us 10 months. We’re getting better at this niche with each project.”
A Residential Revival & Relationships
With young professionals moving to Calgary and other cities in Alberta, John says there’s no shortage of work. “We just finished phase two of a 140-unit complex,” he notes. “And we just started two other buildings that are 54 and 57 units each. We have an additional 160-unit building in the design approval stage right now.”
John says the layout of most projects is main floor retail followed by three stories of residential units. “We’re striving to deliver a brand-new, current and modern top-end of the market rental,” he adds. “We want our apartments to appeal to the ever-growing young professional market.”
Because Torode’s projects are relatively similar, John explains that building a network of trusted subcontractors is a key component of successful development. “If we have a 140-unit job and the next thing is another project with 50 units, we work with subcontractors to plan ahead for the start of the next phase,” he explains. “We generally revisit the same contractors and trades. Good relationships are extremely important.”
John is also working to build connections abroad with global manufacturers. “Our line and size of work gets a lot of attention with worldwide manufacturers,” he claims. “We’re bringing kitchen components in from Vietnam, flooring from China and furniture from Italy. I’m getting ready to fly out this week to the Verona Furniture Show in Italy.”
While John isn’t building business connections, he’s a passionate patron of local and modern art. Torode boasts a collection of contemporary local, regional and international art at its hotel properties and developments, including paintings, glass and sculpture by some of the world’s most esteemed artists.
When it comes to sales, John is also a master. Over the years, John has shared his success and challenges in sales, marketing and development with others by offering courses in cold calling, sales structure discipline, closing and competition.
With an eye for opportunity, John is confident Torode will continue to support Alberta’s prosperous residential market. “For now, we like the niche we have chosen,” he assures. “There might be opportunity for more high-rise buildings and we’re expanding our reach in Edmonton with a 60-unit plus main floor retail design.” As long as the there are people, Torode Realty Advisors will continue building and developing, making a home for Alberta’s growing population.