FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Sean Flathers
July 29, 2014
No conversation with him stays on track without a diversion to talk about their portfolio. What began as a boardroom chat with a pad of paper and bottle of water quickly morphed into his power-point presentation on the Telsec portfolio. Without doubt, he’s always marketing.
In answer to questions about their investments in Saskatchewan, Weyburn in particular: “We did well, we made money”, but the conversation quickly returns to a Calgary focus – and what’s on the agenda next for his Douglasdale-centric employer, mostly SE Calgary office, industrial and mixed use developments.
Sean Flathers began his relationship with real estate early. Retail real estate at least – touring stores early on Saturday mornings before they opened with his dad (recently retired Co-op legend Darwin Flathers).
A south-east Calgarian all his life – Sean attended Lord Beaverbrook High in Calgary, played sports. He says he was a bit of a jock in high-school. Hockey and baseball were big. He and his younger brother had a stay at home mom and a dad who worked his way from the bottom of the Co-op organization to its upper eschelons. Having a career for life was an expectation, one that started out with a five-year stint as an account executive with UPS. Things were going well and the future career path within that militaristic structure in a multi-national corporation seemed just the ticket . . .
While Sean admits to being a director of leasing and development at Telsec Property Corporation, he emphasized that they have areas of responsibility – but aren’t big on titles. They just work together. This wasy, no doubt, a culture shock from his previous work in the UPS organization where his career began after graduating from the University of Calgary with a B.Comm from the Haskayne School of Business. His school and hockey buddy Chris Van Grieken didn’t give up each time he offered Sean a job – eventually prying him away (on the third try) from UPS where he saw a long and happy career path. He admits to feeling he has a long and happy career path now, albeit in a much smaller and less structured organization.
His last work on that move from multi-national giant UPS to Telsec in 2004: “Deals are very fluid. I love it. I’ve never looked back. I can’t imagine doing anything else!”
I asked Sean how he sees Telsec’s business in Calgary, through his lens, looking forward over the next quarter?
… very active. People are making decisions, spending money. Our ability to help our tenants grow by relocating within our portfolio has helped us keep our vacancy rate under 4%.
And over the next five years?
… we’ll be doing some bigger projects. We acquired the CBC lands last year so that will be developed. We have an office building site in QuarryPark, our new project in Crowfoot. Telsec will be more involved in land development – possibly residential.
I asked, how would you describe your management style?
… I’d like to delegate better. I love the detail. I have a hard time letting go …
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… I like quality, but not flashy. I like to feel I’m being looked after. I love quality – but on a budget (we have an expensive horse-habit)!
What distinguishes you that causes people/employers to choose Sean Flathers to do business with, why have they hired you, over others?
… being informative, explaining processes. I’m thorough. I used to be quite shy, but doing deals has built my confidence – so my move to Telsec is something I’ll never regret.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… personal finances – bought an investment property that takes lots of work.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… coming to Telsec has been everything! I’ve been steady – just follow the path, work hard, taking more of the reins and feeling strongly supported. Growing up – my dad – he was always there, along with his work ethic. Dick Van Grieken is a fabulous mentor. His experience is so vast . . .
Do you have a super-hero?
… Wayne Gretzky.
What do you do for fun? What defines work-life balance for you?
… beer league hockey, travel with family (Mexico, Hawaii, Phoenix), training for a tri-athalon, did a marathon in 2009. Our son is in competitive baseball and hockey, our daughter in show jumping. We are busy ALL the time. I work a lot. It helps, with technology, that I can do a lot of work remotely.
What do you read?
… biographies (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary Clinton on his current pile), Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky have new books I want to read.
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