Rob Renaud has spent half of his 46 years working in commercial real estate, and the Devencore principal, executive vice-president of global client solutions and broker of record recently marked two milestones.
In addition to assuming his new role at Devencore, Renaud has also been elected Canadian regional director for the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), which represents more than 3,200 commercial real estate brokerage specialists in more than 590 cities in 23 countries. It has certified more than 2,800 of its members with the SIOR designation, a professional symbol of the highest level of knowledge, production and ethics in the real estate industry.
Renaud is now a member of SIOR’s global board of directors responsible for supporting and advising its western, central and eastern Canada chapters. He’ll also be involved in continuing to drive the organization globally, with the Canadian perspective in mind, as SIOR follows its strategic plan.
“This is a unique organization because it encourages and facilitates education, networking and the development of business between brokers, and with landlords locally and globally,” Renaud told RENX. “It’s very fraternal and it has allowed me to build some of my strongest friendships in the industry and, as we all know, people do business with people they like.”
In addition to Renaud’s SIOR certification, he’s also a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). The designation from the CCIM Institute is an invaluable resource to commercial real estate owners, investors and users. Just more than 9,000 professionals hold it across North America and in more than 30 countries.
“These designations have opened the door to all kinds of opportunities that would not have resulted from just being a tenant-focused broker, which remains my core focus today,” said Renaud. “But with SIOR and CCIM, I have been able to support clients with all kinds of asset classes, geographies and different types of transactions.”
23 years with Devencore
Renaud’s 23 years in various positions with Devencore has given him the experience to tackle his latest role. He’s spent most of his career in Toronto, though he also did an 18-month stint as vice-president and director of global business development (U.K.) in London, England.
“In addition to day-to-day work for my valued clients, my new role will focus on: the growth of business for existing and new major projects and global accounts; the development of new services to satisfy a wider range of client requests; the nurturing of our strategic alliance with Transwestern; recruitment; and the acceleration of Devencore’s media coverage in Ontario,” said Renaud.
Devencore was founded in Toronto in 1972. The real estate advisory and brokerage also has offices in Montreal and Vancouver, plus affiliates in Calgary, Edmonton, Moncton, Halifax, Québec City and Victoria.
“Devencore distinguishes itself from traditional real estate firms by its primary focus of working for corporate occupiers, its flexibility and its ability to respond to a wider range of client requests than can be accommodated in the marketplace,” said Renaud. “These requests range from lease and investment negotiations, development and redevelopment, highest and best use analysis, real estate portfolio planning and management and value optimization, solutions implementation, and strategic planning.
“What has not changed is our ability to be nimble, creative and tenacious. Over the years we have developed extensive consulting and portfolio management services that complement our core real estate brokerage offering.”
Devencore initiatives and projects
Devencore announced a strategic alliance last year with Transwestern, a privately held American commercial real estate company specializing in agency leasing, asset services, occupier solutions, capital markets and research.
“The two firms share a multi-faceted consulting approach to real estate services which focuses on both product knowledge and a superior service mentality,” said Renaud.
Although confidentiality agreements prevent Renaud from naming clients, Devencore’s current major projects include:
* looking for close to 600,000 square feet of distribution space in Toronto West, a market with an industrial vacancy rate of less than 1.5 per cent;
* managing the sale of more than 100 acres of prime development land in the Greater Toronto Area;
* and managing the exclusive sale of a 700,000-square-foot office tower.
Devencore handled the more-than-$68 million purchase of Toronto’s 1500 Don Mills on behalf of client and Philip Morris International Canadian affiliate Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc. last year. It recently completed the negotiation of approximately 400,000 square feet of office space for video game company Ubisoft in Montreal with Allied Properties REIT. The firm also handled the lease for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s main 400,000-square-foot distribution centre in Vancouver.
Industry trends and changes
When not working on deals, Renaud keeps his eyes and ears on trends and changes in the Canadian commercial real estate industry.
He said the impact of co-working space on the office leasing market will continue to grow, and he’s intrigued by the ongoing development of blockchain technology to support a variety of real estate transactions.
“What’s most interesting to me, however, is the evolution of the proptech sector, which will enable a whole range of benefits to commercial real estate investors, managers and building occupants,” said Renaud. “There’s so much happening with technology and so much potential to create work environments that are more productive, comfortable, engaging and sustainable.”
Renaud believes “there’s boundless opportunity for innovation and growth, and I’m really pumped about what the future holds.
“While some people are comfortable doing the same role their entire lives, I get the seven-year itch and have found myself needing to continue to learn, grow and invest in myself and Devencore to make us more competitive in the market.”