The appointment of four new members to the management team of Whiterock Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX: WRK.UN) represents the latest step in the evolution of the trust from a startup to a “full-service real estate platform.”
That’s the assessment of Jason Underwood, Whiterock’s chief executive officer, whose company brought on board three vice-presidents and a director over the past two months.
Simply put, the acquisition and addition of blue-chip real estate to Whiterock’s portfolio has allowed it to add similarly top-shelf talent to its management roster. “Over the last year and a half we bought about $700 million of real estate and a lot of it in high quality office buildings in Toronto and that allowed us to be able to attract top tier talent.”
The Four Recent Hires
Steve Smith, Senior Vice-president of Operations – The slate of new hires is headlined by Steve Smith, who joins Whiterock as senior vice-president of operations. Formerly a 15-year veteran of Oxford Properties, Smith will oversee all aspects of Whiterock's operating platform and has been charged with “achieving greater operating efficiencies to reduce operating costs.” He started at Cushman & Wakefield and also worked in asset management at Royal Trust prior to his years at Oxford Properties.
John Langton, Vice-president of Leasing – Whiterock has also hired on John Langton as vice-president of leasing. He has 25 years commercial real estate experience at both Royal LePage Commercial and Cushman & Wakefield. He has worked as a landlord representative for companies such as H&R REIT, Sun Life, Bentall, Gentra, Crown Properties, and TransGlobe.
Kimberly Tam, Vice-President of Finance – Kimberly Tam, formerly director of finance with Retrocom Mid-Market REIT, has joined Whiterock as vice-president of finance. She also worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers' corporate tax group in Toronto, providing tax consulting services to clients primarily in the financial services industry. A Certified Public Accountant, she started her career in corporate accounting at a private real estate development firm based in New York City.
Maureen MacMillan, Director of Property Accounting – Maureen MacMillan has joined Whiterock as director of property accounting. Most recently with Arcturus Realty Corp., she has 25 years of property accounting experience. She was previously senior property controller with O&Y Enterprise.
Whiterock’s Underwood characterizes the hirings as part of a long, slow evolution for the REIT. “We started from ground zero. Six years ago there was a couple of guys and an idea. Step one was getting the capital and identifying the assets,” he said. In the early days, Whiterock bought assets with long-term leases and retained management with third-party service providers with the intent eventually to take over those functions itself such as in-house leasing, property and construction management, accounting and asset management.