20 minutes with Inform Project’s Harvey Reehal

Principal Consultant , David Allison Inc.
  • Jul. 22, 2011

Two weeks ago, I talked about how partnerships can help to boost a real estate project’s brand. In response, I received a few messages from various friends and people in the industry wanting to learn more about the Vancouver-based installation company I mentioned, Inform Projects.

So I called up Harvey Reehal, Principal Director, and said, “Tell me more.” How can you help real estate developers brand and market their projects better? How can you help to make the stories they tell that much more compelling to potential homebuyers? How can you potentially help to sellout a project?

Here’s what he had to say.

Tell me about Inform Projects. What is your relationship to developers?

We’ve been around for 40 years. We’ve seen the ebbs and flows of design and architecture, and the clients and their expectations and standards. And we came to realize that there is a fundamental problem with the way European product is supplied to multi-residential projects. Due to the distance, the trust isn’t there.

Inform Projects essentially underwrites and protects both parties. We are able to negotiate an excellent price because we do all of the work in between and we get a perfect product because we do all of the work in between. We are the face of the manufacturer and the face of the developer. It’s really that simple.

What are your views on North American kitchens?

Personally, I believe there is a fundamental flaw in the way we design multi-residential, cooking-living environments in North America, especially in Vancouver. And I mention cooking-living as one word, not two, because they’re always together.

We’re in this rut of granite countertops and breakfast bars. At Inform, we try to show developers and homeowners alike that there are other options for kitchen design.

What is it about the kitchen or the bathroom that makes it such a selling feature?

Our kitchens are not there as the statement. I’ve always disagreed with that concept. It cannot be the thing that defines your building. It needs to be there to complement the existing architecture. However, I do believe that people feel an emotional connection with a kitchen or a bathroom when they come into a sales centre. It’s not so much about square footage or finish selection, it’s about: “This suits how I live,” or “This is how I want to live.” We help to bring out that emotional connection by creating kitchens that go beyond the standard eight-foot back wall and six-foot island. Even the simplest object like a built-in spice rack allows the developer to satisfy the consumer’s requirements.

How can working with Inform Projects help a real estate development?

I would say we help in three ways:

1) We provide a true European product. We offer a real European product that uses real European technology, which is distinctly different from a North American product, but at a price point that is equal to locally manufactured European-inspired products.

2) We give real estate developers the opportunity to leverage brand. When a developer asks me how much a Boffi kitchen or an Eggersmann kitchen might cost, I always say it’s free. Why? Because the brand is so powerful you can actually increase your cost by a few dollars a square foot. As a developer, you are seen as investing in something beautiful and homeowners recognize that. You’re showing you believe your homes are worthy of such an investment.

3) We can help with LEED accreditation. One of our kitchen manufacturers ¬– Eggersmann – is fully FSC-certified with a Chain of Custody (COC) number. With the COC number we can take the entire value of the kitchen, with its installation and everything, and apply that as a proportionate value to the building. That’s a huge percentage, and it doesn’t cost any more money.

The opportunity to tell a story for branding and marketing purposes lies in anything and everything, but certain products and features offer stories that are much bigger, deeper and wider than the rest. So make use of them. These are the stories that we in the real estate development industry should be focusing on because they are the kinds of stories that homebuyers will appreciate most.

Do you have interesting real estate story you’d like to share? Send me a line. I might just talk about it right here.

David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

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David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

Read more

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