Canadian Randal Froebelius has been appointed as chair of BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) International, a recognition of the country’s growing influence on the commercial real estate industry’s global stage.
He is only the fourth Canadian to chair the organization since BOMA International, based in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1907.
Froebelius, who is president and general manager of Equity ICI Real Estate Services Inc., based in Toronto, has more than 25 years of experience in property management, leasing, project management and construction as well as a longstanding involvement with both BOMA Toronto and BOMA Canada.
“One of the unique things I bring is that international viewpoint. Typically our chairs have been U.S.-based, some would say U.S.-centric, but BOMA International has a truly international outreach with China and other countries. Mexico is growing quickly as well within BOMA,” he said.
“As many Canadians, we’re ambassadors and we tend to build relationships and bridge relationships and make connections.
“What I’m really hoping to do as chair of BOMA International is to build on those recent countries that have joined like Mexico, like Costa Rica, like Panama and China as well, but to really build these relationships around the world because in the exchange of information and ideas in the real estate sector everybody benefits.”
BOMA International priorities
BOMA International is a federation of U.S. local associations and global affiliates. It represents the owners, managers, service providers and other property professionals of all commercial building types, including office, industrial, medical, corporate and mixed-use.
Froebelius said some key initiatives BOMA is working on, and will continue to work on, include carbon reduction because sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) are increasingly important issues for its members.
The labour force is also near the top of BOMA’s priority list.
“Workforce development. . . . We’re facing a challenge where a lot of our membership is aging and we really need to get more young people into our industry. That’s a big focus of what we do,” he said. “. . . And thought leadership.
“During the pandemic, BOMA was a real, probably the leader, in information for real estate owners in how to manage your building under a pandemic environment. So we’ve published a lot of material on that and we continue to publish a lot of material around building management, best practices, that kind of thing.”
Froebelius “deeply committed”
Benjamin Shinewald, president and chief executive officer of BOMA Canada, said Froebelius is a long-time BOMA volunteer.
“Randal is so deeply committed to BOMA and the commercial real estate industry. It’s remarkable,” he said. “He served as BOMA Toronto’s chair, he served as BOMA Canada’s chair.
“He has been involved in various committees of BOMA International, committees of BOMA Canada. He is so incredibly committed. When he was chair of BOMA Canada, he visited every single one of our 11 locals . . . some twice.
“He’s been in BOMA China. He’s been an expert multiple times in China and elsewhere, and he is just somebody who cares about the industry and its success and its positive impact on the world around us to a remarkable extent. There’s truly nobody I know who is more committed to BOMA and to the industry than Randal.”
Shinewald described Froebelius as a global authority and leader on the BOMA space measurement standard, which is arguably BOMA’s most famous calling card.
“It’s fantastic. He’s the first Canadian in a generation to become BOMA International chair. . . . And he is so earnest and good-natured and deeply driven. We think we have the very, very best of Canada now serving at the international level in the most senior role,” he said.
“Randal’s election to BOMA International Chair is a moment of incredibly well-deserved recognition for one of Canada’s most outstanding commercial real estate leaders, and we couldn’t be prouder.
“But more than Randal’s own accomplishment, this moment also symbolizes the increasingly global leadership role that BOMA Canada, and the Canadian commercial real estate industry, are playing on the international stage.
“Individually and collectively, this is the best of Canada and we’re energized and excited to deepen our impact in making our industry smarter, healthier, more sustainable and more diverse.”
Froebelius has wealth of experience
Froebelius described Equity ICI, which he started in 2004, as a boutique management firm that provides property management, leasing, construction and facilities management services to a variety of investors, institutional owners, not-for-profits and condominium corporations.
He is also a long-standing member of the MaRS Discovery District real estate team, consulting on the property management, leasing and construction of the MaRS Centre, an urban innovation hub in Toronto.
He’s leading MaRS’ expansion to the Menkes Waterfront Innovation Centre in partnership with the University of Toronto.
Froebelius was born and raised in Toronto and holds a bachelor of engineering science (civil) degree from the University of Western Ontario, an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business and a master of laws from the University of Toronto. He is a Licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario.
Prior to starting Equity ICI, he led property operations for the Kolter Property Company, responsible for a large commercial office portfolio in Toronto and Dallas.
“I joined BOMA in the early ’90s and then I took a brief hiatus sometime in the ’90s and re-engaged with them in about 2000 and I’ve been involved ever since,” said Froebelius.
“The No. 1 reason why I think many people join BOMA is because of the network. Frankly, there’s nothing like it from a career development . . . meet your peers, exchange information standpoint. There’s a social aspect as well of course, but truly it’s a network of peers in the real estate management, leasing, construction, asset management.
“There’s other associations as well but none are quite like BOMA, I would say, from a network and operations perspective. Once you start getting involved you realize the benefits and you get more and more involved.
“So that’s kind of my journey. When I was invited to be on the BOMA Toronto board shortly into the 2000s, it just kind of grew from there.
“What’s interesting about BOMA is I could go to a BOMA Calgary event and feel welcomed with my peer group. I could take away information about the real estate in Calgary or Vancouver or Edmonton. It’s a very welcoming environment and exchange of information is pretty incredible.”