Going Above and Beyond

David Bowden (left) is the CEO of Colliers Canada.
Kirk Kuester (right) is the Managing Director of Colliers Vancouver.

Commerical real estate company Colliers International keeps customer service front and centre

At a time when many large-scale commercial realtors are attempting to provide comprehensive service at a local level, Colliers International excels in doing so. In fact, in B.C., Colliers enjoys a historic precedent as a “local” realtor: in 1898 it was the 13th registered company in the province (as Macaulay Nicolls) and the eighth customer to open an account with the Royal Bank of Canada.

But as its name implies, Canadian-owned Colliers International has a reach that is global. Since former CEO John McLernon launched an ambitious expansion plan in the 1970s (partly to deliver consistency of service to clients who were expanding abroad), Colliers now has 482 offices in 62 countries, with 13,505 professionals (500 in B.C. alone) and an annual global revenue of more than $2 billion. “One of the great things about being global is that the transfer of knowledge that occurs benefits everyone. Our focus is still very much on providing memorable experiences at a local level,” says David Bowden, CEO of Colliers Canada.

To which Kirk Kuester, Managing Director of Colliers Vancouver, adds, “Our business philosophy of delivering a memorable client experience is consistent in all our offices, and Vancouver remains a lighthouse for our global activities.”

According to the Major Projects Inventory, Metro Vancouver is taking advantage of a robust investment climate with nearly $4 billion in residential and commercial property under construction and another $15.1 billion being proposed in the region. Plus, developers of all sizes continue to buy prime development sites. “The situation is comparable elsewhere,” says Bowden. “There’s robust growth in Asia Pacific and very rapid growth in the U.S. And even though we can’t define growth in Europe as robust, at least it’s steady. It’s a very good time for us.”
The foundation of Colliers’ services is the strength and depth of its commercial professionals who draw on years of direct experience in the local market, and know their communities and the industry inside and out. “We spend a great deal of time determining exactly what our clients want and work hard to create ideal solutions,” says Bowden.
The “memorable” client experiences Bowden and Kuester are referring to are achieved by these professionals delivering a one-stop solution: from property search and selection to project and facility management to valuation and appraisal—Colliers’ full suite of commercial real estate services fulfills even the most complex requirements. “Since everything revolves around service excellence, we nurture our people with ongoing training and education,” says Kuester. Indeed, Colliers University offers 600 courses covering every facet of the real estate sector (not surprisingly, retention at Colliers is high: many of its professionals have been with the company between 15 and 35 years).
Some of Colliers’ more high-profile projects undertaken by the MHPM, the company’s project management company, include the Richmond Oval and Richmond’s new Canada Post sorting facility. Another prominent client is Electronic Arts in Burnaby, for whom Colliers has provided customized facility services for 15 years (including overseeing the initial construction of its 420,000-square-foot campus and on-site technical services). “They truly do go above and beyond the call of duty and do a phenomenal job protecting and optimizing Electronic Arts’ real estate assets,” says Frank Bassett, EA’s senior director, facilities, real estate and corporate services.
Not surprisingly, Bowden and Kuester’s goal for the foreseeable future is to maintain the excellence of its core disciplines. Bowden concludes, “We don’t have a product to sell, only experience to impart. We’ll continue to ensure every client experience with us is memorable, plus we look forward to establishing new long-term relationships, which in turn will lead to repeat business.”