What does that mean? I set out to learn about him and perhaps learn a little more about REITs and how they operate. My request for an interview was swiftly and agreeably answers. And, as I learned, he likes good food – so rather than doing our interview at his office, Doug bought lunch at one of his favourite places. I was well fed …
Born in Winnipeg, the middle child between two sisters, Doug moved to Edmonton with his family when he was in the first grade. His mom was a homemaker, his dad was and Electrical Engineer with CN. He attended McNally Comp. .. but finished high school back in Winnipeg (the family moved back there) and then went on to the University of Winnipeg for one year, but it didn’t take. He enrolled in Business Admin. at Red River College and thrived on that. His early work as an insurance adjuster didn’t bring joy, but a move to Aronovitch & Leipsic and his work in property management and leasing did.
His personal life; married to Suzanne since 1979, two grown children.
His professional life; a crooked path Doug describes as “I did it all”, involved jobs in Winnipeg, Calgary, Winnipeg with Manulife, Torode, Avison Young, Westfield REIT (now ARTIS REIT), CREIT … and then back to ARTIS REIT where he says he was welcomed back as Sr. VP Leasing, Western Canada after things ‘weren’t a good fit’ at CREIT.
His current role has taken him from having a crew of thirty reporting to him, to having no direct reports just now – which he seems to be enjoying, in his self-directed role, partly described as ‘firefighter’.
As he reminisced he heaped high praise on the influences of John Torode and Armin Martens, “he has unwavering passion to grow the business – and he’s still the hardest working guy at ARTIS”.
What has contributed most to your success? “I’m stable, predictable. I work hard. I’m always selling. I follow up.”
What has held you back? “I’m not political – I haven’t played that game as well as I might have.”
He went on to add (not sure if these traits fall to the ‘success’ or ‘held me back’ side of that question: “I don’t like to be controlled. I don’t like a lot of needless process” – these comments were not the first words out of his mouth, or the last – but they seem to be tightly woven into who he is, how he operates and why he’s been able to come through a career with its share of tumult without any bitter edges showing, and “I have no patience for BS”.
I asked Doug how he sees his business “REIT (real estate investment trust) business”; I asked ‘how’s business looking, going forward over the next quarter?’
… at this time, the U.S. market is more favourable to us in terms of acquisition opportunities. Calgary is very resilient. I’m very focused on tenant retention. New activity here is slow. The rest of our portfolio is very stable. I don’t see much changing over the next year. Cost containment, being a good landlord and being prepared for when things turn around is our focus …
And over the next five years?
… differently! Acquiring properties at prices we can live with. Doing added-value development on projects we have, rental lifts and diversification will keep us balanced. I expect we will see some consolidation in REITS.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… I’m a buyer, not a shopper. I do my research – I want good products, good service at a fair price. I like to buy local. I’m loyal and do a lot by referral …
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Doug McGregor, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… I’m easy to deal with. I don’t play games – my word is something you can rely on. I’m not ‘blunt’, but lets say I’m ‘very straightforward’!
How would you describe your management style?
… simple, hands-on, lead by example. I’m not an analyst – it’s a people business. I ask a lot of questions …
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… about my kids (and house prices!). I have very few regrets in life through plenty of adversity.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… mom taught me the value of a dollar, and to be very organizes. Dad taught me his work ethic. E.J. Aronovitch was a big influence on my learning the business – his word was his bond.
Work-life balance – do you have it?
... I do … now.
… golf when I can (13 handicap), gardening.
What do you read?
… three newspapers a day, industry publications. For pleasure, John Grisham novels. History. Adventure novels.
… 2011 Hyundai Genesis sedan. I had a 1995 Corvette … just sold it.
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