Perspectives : The Best is Yet to Come
International Home Marketing Group celebrates a singular vision resulting in 25 years of success
BY GALE BEEBY
Fraser Wilson, vice president at International Home Marketing Group (IHMG), has a passion for the business. Co-founded in 1992 by his late father, Michael, Fraser joined the company after several years building a company abroad after studying for a business degree from Dalhousie University.
By the time Fraser joined the company, the senior Wilson had already assembled a strong and skilled executive team, which now includes president Elliott Taube, Vanessa Bellemare, vice president of sales and marketing, and Lisa Chester, vice president of sales.
Fraser has brought a wealth of experience, perspective and insight to IHMG, which has helped it adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. The company’s approach to sales and marketing goes beyond the conventional and it is able to bring greater success to their clients as a result.
The IHMG team looks for white space “outside the box.” For example, when Pier 27 was launched at the foot of Yonge Street, IHMG had sailboats cruise around the harbour with the Pier 27 logo on them. IHMG was also instrumental in bringing Chef Nobu Matsuhisa — and Robert De Niro — to Toronto, which in turn created an unprecedented excitement and demand for the Nobu Residences by the Madison Group. It might be noted that the launch broke the Internet that day. The company was also behind the global architectural design competition that lead to the creation of the Absolute Towers in Mississauga, often referred to the Marilyn Monroe buildings.
“Combine this with all that IHMG has to offer,” Wilson says, “and at the end of every development, homebuyers and developers will say to our team, ‘It was a pleasure working with you and we look forward to the next one.’ ”
FRASER WILSON – is vice president of International Home Marketing Group. IHMG.ca
BY FRASER WILSON
International Home Marketing Group was founded in 1992 to service a void in the market, but IHMG didn’t “start” there. Prior to this, cofounder Michael Wilson — my father — was considered a pioneer in the industry. It’s hard to believe that condos didn’t exist in Toronto, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they came to be. It was then that Michael helped bring the very first condo to market (with Campeau Corp. and Bramelea) and the way the industry markets condos and lowrise homes was created.
Unfortunately, the late 1980s brought a significantly more challenging market and many of the city’s largest developers were unable to weather the storm. However, with the bad comes the good and, like many success stories, IHMG began as an opportunity carved out in a downturn. The crash resulted in several small development offshoots and they either did not have the experience nor the size or interest to carry an internal sales and marketing department. IHMG was born.
Since then, IHMG has grown and continues to work with the best developers in the country. An integral component to any development team — from the point of land inquiry and acquisition through to closing — IHMG has helped its clients improve their bottom lines. We do this by adhering to the principals that the late Michael Wilson’s reputation was founded on — a superior experience for our builder clients and homebuyers and knowledge combined with energy and enthusiasm for every facet of service.
By 2009, Michael recognized that planning the next chapter of the IHMG story had to beg in, though retirement was far from his mind. Thankfully, he began the process of succession early because he would be diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and battle it long and hard for three years, until his death on April 8, 2014.
It was in 2009 when he began mentoring Elliott Taube, now president of IHMG. Meanwhile, I was living abroad, putting my skills to test in Central America working to transform a small exporting business into a fully-integrated manufacturing, export, retail and service operation. Upon learning of my father’s health, I made the decision to return to Toronto and join the team at IHMG.
Most fortunately, and not surprisingly, Michael had assembled an incredible team and reputation. The business was built on this solid foundation, but much uncertainty was still looming in a business that relies on the personal expertise of the person at the helm. I recall standing at his memorial in front of my family and hundreds of friends, colleagues and clients thinking to myself: “It’s on us now. He carried, protected and established this and now it’s up to us to make him proud.”
And that is what everyone has done. We have all banded together and kept his legacy and our company going. Our longstanding clients stayed with us and recommended us to several new ones. Our head office team, sales team and executive team all leaned in, and four years later, we can proudly say we are still doing it with some of our best years to date.
It hasn’t been all roses. Our first two project launches were soft — the market was very small, competitive in pricing and locations. We had to do nothing more than look inward and ask ourselves: “What would Michael do?” The answer to that question is always to roll up your sleeves, burn the midnight oil and push forward with no excuses. Grinding out those first few projects certainly wasn’t easy, and we learned to respect his accomplishments and resolve more than ever.
Fortunately the market has been robust recently, but that, too, comes with new challenges. How to provide added value? How to improve customer experience, both for the buyer and builder? Being proactive and anticipating needs helps us to evolve and keeps us on our toes, and our ability to do just that is why our incredible team deserves all of the credit.
We have continuously found that the earlier we can be involved in a project, the better the results. Our longest-standing clients have learned this too. From there we work together on the best product type, design, size, price point, timing, as well as marketing and sales programs.
Ultimately, it is listening — to the experts, to the clients, to the market, our team and our own sites — that is our greatest asset. Our sites represent a microanalysis of the general marketplace every day. Whether townhouse sites in Stoney Creek, or multi-tower developments in downtown Toronto, or stacked towns in Pickering, or a detached housing development in Markham, we get to see exactly how products, prices and the market are trending and use that information to adapt.
“Adapt to survive” is a common phrase in this industry and our twist on this is to get ahead of it by being proactive. Adapting is reactive and we like to be one step ahead. With a constant focus on research and a willingness to try new things, we are raising the bar on the experience for developers, agents and homebuyers.
Other initiatives we are happy to announce are the formation of our own in-house brokerage to better define our business and simplify systems, modernize our branding and build the quickest worksheet and APS producing software in the business. This is going to be a great year.
The success of our business is no easy task. In fact, it is a process that continues to evolve. We are proud to say that we’ve come this far and have never been more excited to see what the future holds.
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