FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Brad Krizan
January 31, 2017
Things rarely go the way we think they will growing up – and for most of us that is a process of choosing paths, but we don’t expect the changes we don’t control. Imagine growing up on the farm near Taber, AB where you were born. Schooling, yes. But an expectation of taking over the family farm one day. His dad died when he was 15, the farm got sold and the future suddenly looked different for Brad Krizan. He’s been walking, running and charting a path mixing chance, choice and change ever since …
Most people who know Brad from his business career in Calgary will – as I have – get glimpses of him in action but have no appreciation of ‘the full story’ because, I think, he flies under the radar … but clearly he’s been very effective at it, details of which he happily volunteered for me over a long afternoon coffee recently.
Mom, a nurse from Calgary, dad a farmer (he'd grown in farming family who moved from Saskatchewan when he was a kid) – met, married and farmed near Taber, raised Brad and his two younger sisters. Brad’s ‘after high school’ ambitions were ‘municipal planner’, his school, University of Lethbridge, his degree, B.A. in Urban and Regional Studies – and his first job, like so many folks do, was in a completely different field – one I relate to from my own early days: retail footwear sales and management. But that first job at Foot Locker didn’t hold his interest long. He joined Royal LePage Commercial (these days known as Cushman Wakefield) as an Industrial Leasing Assistant and his roots in real estate began to grow. Canada West (office leasing), Oxford Properties (office leasing and property management), Opus (leasing and development), Encana (manager of a 2.3 million sq. ft. portfolio - facilities management, leasing in multiple markets, significant involvement in the move-to-The Bow team – Director of Corporate Administrative Services), McBain Properties (leasing and asset management) … headhunted to join Premiere Suites – some pretty interesting stepping stones so far in 21 years. “I’m a work in progress – and I don’t know what ‘being finished’ will look like”. His current gig – running Premiere Suites for Western Canada from a Calgary head office adds long-term stay/hotel/hospitality residential experience to his repertoire. He’s bullish on opportunities to grow business and market share during cyclical downturns – currently soft in Calgary, strengthening in Fort McMurray and going very strong in Vancouver, with a staff of 45.
Modesty describes him – he is also a Director and Board Chair of The Calgary Downtown Association and a Board Member/Director at the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. And he’s previously served as Board Chair at the Calgary Convention Centre Authority among numerous community and board involvements.
Why are you successful? “Because I’ve prodded myself to find new challenges to improve myself – and whenever I get bored I’ve needed a new challenge. I take calculated risks.”
What has held you back? “ … I take calculated risks! At times I’ve gotten in my own way – been too conservative when I haven’t been completely clear about the next step”.
How do you see your business at Premiere Suites – as a turnkey long-term stay provider – going forward over the next quarter?
… right now is our natural/traditional slow time of year because there is not as much relocation activity but still we have plenty of excitement. For instance, we housed a lot of people connected with the High Performance Rodeo performances. And Fort McMurray is ramping up. Our business is about 20% oil patch related in Calgary so we are quite diversified in terms of our clientele base.
And over the next five years?
… our industry will experience disruption, and we’ll be growing and refining our services to meet changing needs. Every up or down cycle produces challenges but also exposes opportunities for growth.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… I try to focus on ‘quality of the fit’ as my primary decision driver. Relationship focus, reliability, quality – more than traditional price only driven thinking.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Brad Krizan, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… I’m good at getting people to see ‘a bigger vision’ and getting them to be collaborative.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… depends on the day. I like to empower people to ‘own their role’. I don’t like to micro-manage. I prefer to be more strategic.
… I try!
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… ‘the state of the nation’, our governments – Calgary/Alberta/Canada, all of them are stifling the human spirit. We are living in a protected/bubble-wrap society. [my obvious follow up question, “Well, when are you going to run for elected office?” – his reply, “I’m thinking about it” … it sure looks like he’s building a strong resume for it, so stay tuned – you read it here first!]
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… when my dad died I learned that your life can change in an instant – and that you can’t take anything for granted. My mom sold the farm and continued nursing and I focused on school and finding my future direction.
… Saturday morning fun basketball games, family travel. My wife has a busy and demanding career life too. We have non-identical eight-year-old twins, one of each – so ‘things kids like to do’ …
What do you read?
… business books mostly, new-age philosophy – I like reading books, not ‘from devices’.
… we have a 2013 Honda Odyssey Van and 2007 Honda CRV.
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