Ronmor, a private real estate company based in Calgary for more than 30 years, has added some new and younger blood to its management team as the company looks to take advantage of its huge land bank and grow the residential side of its business.
Recently, Ronmor hired Dallas Wingerak as its chief executive officer to champion that direction.
“Jobs like this in Calgary don’t come up often. There aren’t many groups like Ronmor in the industry, let alone in Calgary. When this opportunity came up, I was hooked immediately,” Wingerak told RENX during a recent interview.
Why is Ronmor unique?
“Privately owned, large portfolio, multigenerational assets, long-term vision. The ownership group really has remained the same for many decades. Families that have worked together for a long time. Having had a very steady leader for over 20 years has made the company very stable.”
Porozni remains Ronmor chairman
Wingerak will work closely with Doug Porozni, who has been the company leader for the past 20 years or so and remains its chairman.
“There (aren’t) a lot of opportunities that you get where the previous leader stays on as basically lead at the board level and doing what I would call pretty strategic large-scale acquisition deals,” Wingerak said.
“I can’t say enough how ideal it is of a transition. The transition was very much something that Doug and the team planned and we continue to plan.”
Wingerak was born and raised in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. She has a geography and economics degree from Simon Fraser University.
“I actually started my career out in the field of planning and worked in Northern Alberta as a planning technician,” she said. “I worked for the City of Airdrie for the planning department there as a development officer and then as a development planner.”
Wingerek’s retail, corporate experience
Her career has included being a senior director with Loblaw Properties for close to five years, followed by two years at Calgary Co-op as vice-president of facilities development and real estate, and just over six years at Choice Properties REIT (CHP-UN-T).
Initially, she was vice-president of real estate and operations for Western Canada, then moved to vice-president of retail property and asset management before joining Ronmor.
The people in the real estate industry drew her into this area of work.
“Coming from a planning background, a government background, I was drawn obviously to working with people day-to-day,” said Wingerak. “And outside of government, working with either publicly traded or private companies like this, there’s always interesting people in real estate.
“There’s all kinds of personalities and everything all the time is real estate. It drives our whole world.”
Porozni said there are several reasons Wingerak was hired for the position. First, Ronmor wanted someone with some youth and enthusiasm in the new role.
“. . . As well as somebody with both retail and corporate experience. That’s a rare find,” said Porozni, who has known Wingerak for a number of years through the real estate industry.
“Somebody that’s been on the retail side as well as the development side. Very hard in this day and age – and I hate to say this now – it’s hard to find somebody that wants to stay in Calgary with a growth company.
“Right now it’s a challenge. We’re lucky that Dallas was available and didn’t want to leave Calgary. That was a big deal.”
Ronmor’s holdings, future plans
Ronmor owns and manages an extensive portfolio of shopping centres, office buildings, industrial properties and one of the largest private land holdings in the province.
Its ownership consists of two third-generation Alberta families who remain active in the direction and leadership of the company.
Porozni says Wingerak will be heavily involved in developing the residential branch of the company as time goes on.
Ronmor has more than 1,000 acres in the Glacier Ridge area of Calgary North. The outline plan is going to city council for approval before Christmas.
“We’ll start that next year. Either we’re joint venturing that as we had done in previous neighbourhoods with another developer, or we’ll go it alone,” said Porozni. “It will be well over 2,000, 3,000 units over time. It will be a 15-year buildout.
“There will be commercial sites we’ll develop over time as well. . . . We built Sage Hill and Nolan Hill with United Communities. They were our partner. We owned the land, sold them half-interest, stayed in for half right throughout the whole piece.”
The entire Glacier Ridge area will eventually contain about 10,000 homes and 30,000 residents.
6,000-plus acres of Calgary land
Ronmor’s portfolio currently has more than two million square feet of retail and office space, plus a small industrial portfolio.
It also has over 6,000 acres of raw land in and around Calgary for development, as well as properties in Whistler and Kelowna, B.C., Saskatoon, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Okotoks.
About 70 per cent of its real estate is in retail.
Ronmor is not a homebuilder. “Not yet, (but) you never know,” Porozni said. “We could be in that business. It’s a possibility. We’ve got a lot of land. Why not at some point be a homebuilding company as well?”
One of the biggest properties it is currently developing is the Sage Hill Quarter in Calgary at the corner of 144th Avenue and Shaganappi Trail, which will be anchored by a major grocer and a pharmacy.
The site will encompass about 172,000 square feet of retail/office space on 15 acres.
It also plans to develop the Springbank Hill Market at 8259 17th Ave. S.W., during the next year. That development will include a shopping centre of at least 180,000 square feet and an area for residential.