Property Management on the Rise

Property Management Company (PMco)
Written by William Young

Construction and Property Management Company (PMco) is a full-service real estate management business based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The company was launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and is the property management and small projects division of Doucet Developments, an Atlantic Canadian development firm.

Prior to the development of PMco, Doucet Developments established relationships with Bedford company rcs construction in 1996 and with growing development operation Tier Too Properties in 2010; today, PMco works in tandem with both rcs and Tier Too, serving the clients of the former while managing most of the latter’s developments in the area.

It is not uncommon for PMco to step in and help a long-standing client of rcs with their smaller renovations or maintenance work. PMco was born from previous rcs employees, so they know the same level of service and care will be used to take care of clients on either side. On the flip side, PMco has built many strong relationships over its three short years in business, and when one of the PMco clients is ready for a flagship build or major redevelopment, PMco can hand that over to the larger outfit, rcs, which is better suited for major projects of this size. PMco has quickly become an integral part of both the Doucet cadre of services and the Atlantic real estate market.

Company Cofounder and Vice President of Operations Craig Duininck always had the idea of starting a small projects and property management company. When the property market began to stabilize after the initial hit of the pandemic, he noticed a shift in it, where bigger clients and customers were requesting smaller levels of renovations and building projects, operations of a size that not many companies were specialized in. Duininck saw this as a perfect time to get going, and through hard work, leveraging prior rcs relationships, and “a lot of luck,” succeeded.

In the beginning, he handled property management and leasing while the company’s only other employee oversaw construction. Thanks to a large influx of work in the first month, he was able to hire a site supervisor and coordinator, and the workforce has now grown to about 20 employees, including a full office in nearby Truro, Nova Scotia and a site management team.

Now three years in, the company operates as a full-service real estate management business that tailors packages to suit the needs of clients, offering services including leasing, rent collection, contract management, common area maintenance, reconciliation, and more. It has seen no shortage of work ever since. PMco has also incorporated a Real Estate Brokerage that can handle all third party commercial leasing, purchasing, and sales.

Duininck says that the three core values of any PMco project are integrity, respect, and collaboration. These are best achieved on any job by working side-by-side with clients to answer any questions as soon as possible and to work together to solve problems. “With that collaboration,” Duininck says, “we treat every client with respect… if you have been in construction your entire life or this is your first job… everyone deserves the same amount of respect.”

He cites a recent example of how the company found cost savings in a project that would save a significant amount of money while not jeopardizing quality. Instead of adding these savings into the profit for what was a lump sum job, PMco shared these savings directly with the client and reduced the contract price. The company is not simply about making money but about creating long-lasting relationships, and acting with integrity always supports that goal.

Being especially proficient in smaller projects, 90 percent of the PMco business comes from repeat clients, who respond to both the company’s unique expertise and its transparent attitude to client relations. A typical project may not have full construction or engineering plans, so PMco will go to a client’s worksite to work on a solution and take care of them.

Duininck says that none of what the business does would be possible without the hard work and ingenuity of the workforce. “It takes a special group with a strong set of values to execute projects like this.”

Although still quite young in its market, PMco has already worked hard to secure significant contracts and to get its name out in its home region. The company recently landed a project with the Kal Tire group, Canada’s largest independent tire dealer, which purchased local outfit GCR Commercial Tires & Service in 2022 and is rebranding all such locations to the Kal Tire brand. PMco has been working on this project for the past year in 14 locations across the Atlantic provinces.

Other notable projects include a newly opened Lindt chocolates store in the Halifax Shopping Centre—a high-end project in terms of both size and name; a new Crepe Delicious kiosk in a major mall in neighbouring Dartmouth; and Bar Sabbia in downtown Halifax, which Duininck remembers as a fun project to work on.

Although these types of projects continue to be successful for PMco, he says there is a degree of uncertainty currently around interest rates and large development projects in the Atlantic provinces. There has been a hesitancy in property management and development circles to begin bigger projects because of this. This has, in turn, led to a degree of greater strength for companies like PMco that specialize in smaller projects, which are a bit more favourable in today’s market as others looking to develop wait and hope for interest rates to settle. “We love to be the go-to to solve problems and help get these projects to work,” says Duininck.

This trend of high interest rates and expensive construction costs spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and has only continued since, which is a big ongoing issue for Atlantic Canadians and businesses in the area. As an open-book crew, the team is always quick to communicate any cost change and to find solutions within the budget that work for everyone. Rather than setting a price and standing firm, the company prefers to sit down with clients to work out an agreeable solution as part of its trademark approach, which Duininck says is a little out of the ordinary for a construction business.

Looking ahead to the fast-approaching new year, Duininck says that the company’s goal is not necessarily to grow vertically, as it is not looking to add bigger projects, but instead to grow horizontally with the number of projects it runs. PMco still works with bigger clients in the Atlantic provinces like major Canadian supermarket companies Loblaws and Sobeys, but the goal for the incoming year is to continue to increase the number of projects it completes, and to increase the number of new clients it works with.

The company has found a niche in the Atlantic market for its smaller projects but uses a lot of the same trusted vendors as some of the bigger outfits and credits these vendors for being flexible. Duininck says that without that flexibility, the company’s growth could not have been possible. He is also thankful to the company’s clients who trust PMco to work with them directly, which would not happen without ongoing support and trust in the relationships.

Duininck and his staff continue to stay humble as PMco continues its rise, which is evident in both the company’s internal values and the way it continues to approach and value each client.

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