Lennard has recently taken over 2,500 square feet of office space in Preston Square, located in the burgeoning Little Italy district.
Already an Insider? Log in
- Critical Ottawa business news and analysis updated daily.
- Immediate access to all Insider-only content on our website.
- 4 issues per year of the Ottawa Business Journal magazine.
- Special bonus issues like the Ottawa Book of Lists.
- Discounted registration for OBJ’s in-person events.
Commercial real estate agent Ian Shackell knows all about taking leaps of faith. He did it almost 25 years ago, when he left Royal LePage Commercial to jointly open a new office in Ottawa for CBRE. And he did it again almost a year ago, when he left CBRE to jointly open a new office in Ottawa for Toronto-based Lennard Commercial Realty. He made the big move with his son, Matt, a senior sales associate at CBRE, and with Paul Cook, who, like Shackell, was a vice-president at the publicly owned real estate giant. It was Dan Hunt, a founding partner at Lennard, who had reached out to them and “put the word in our ear,” they said. The men saw Lennard as a better fit with their entrepreneurial goals. They also liked its culture, with its focus on work-life balance and well-being. “It checked all the boxes,” said Shackell. “There wasn’t anything that was missing, that we were really giving up, that we were worried we were not going to have here.” Founded in Calgary in 1980, Lennard is one of the fastest-growing independent commercial brokerages in Canada, with more than 175 agents and staff. It has five offices in Ontario with plans to further expand nationally. Lennard has recently taken over 2,500 square feet of office space in Preston Square, located in the burgeoning Little Italy district. Shackell and Cook are both partners in the brokerage. As well, they’re sales representatives along with Matt, who’s also vice-president. The new office aims to build a team of 10 to 12 agents. “We’re on the cusp of recruiting and talking to seasoned agents that have been working in this market, and to younger agents,” said Shackell. “What’s really important for us is to be aligned with like-minded people, and people who want to collaborate and are good community builders. “We want to hire good people doing good things for their clients and, at the end of the day, doing well for themselves and their families.” Cook’s career in commercial real estate spans nearly four decades. He was part of the executive team at J.J. Barnicke in Toronto in the ’80s and ’90s and spent almost 18 years with CBRE in Ottawa. He specializes in office leasing. From his experienced sales guy perspective, he feels the big shops have too many corporate leaders. “It’s hard to quantify the value. For senior managers like us, we don’t need a manager to call us in every week and say, ‘What are you doing? Let me hold your hand. I’ll show you how to cold call or how to market a property.’” What’s attractive about Lennard is that it has eliminated all the “fat,” said Cook. This leaves the salespeople with more control over their jobs, less pressure from corporate bosses and the ability to be more flexible in their negotiations, he added. As well, agents take home more money when they close a deal. They earn their income by getting a “substantially greater” commission split, said Cook. “When I say ‘substantially’, that’s an understatement. It’s huge compared to what the bigger shops offer.” The commission split structure was a major factor for Cook joining Lennard. “As you get a little older, you want to make a little more money for the amount of effort you’re putting into the business, because it’s a challenging business to be in; it can be really stressful.” Many new agents end up leaving. Strong negotiating skills, in-depth knowledge of the market and a passion for the industry are a must. “You need the fire in your belly to do this every day,” said Shackell, who’s been working in the field for 36 years, specializing in industrial sales and leasing, investment sales and land sales. “Quite frankly, I see Lennard as what (CBRE) was 23 years ago, when they opened the Ottawa office. They were small, they were nimble, they had a story to tell, and it feels like we’re telling the same story as back then but on an entirely different platform, which is very exciting.” Matt Shackell, who has seven years' experience in industrial sales and leasing and land sales, had been looking to be more entrepreneurially creative when he joined Lennard. He also liked the idea of being able to collaborate with other local and national brokerages. The businessmen acknowledged the industry is facing challenging times with the global economy poised to tip into a recession. Bright spots in the sector include the ongoing demand for industrial space, a growing tech sector that’s keeping the west end busy, and the imposed return of public servants to a hybrid office environment in the downtown area, which was uniquely affected by the pandemic. “I think we’re going to be going through some tougher times in 2023, but I truly believe, based on the predictions from the economists and Bank of Canada and all the other economic indicators, that this recession is not going to be long and deep,” said Shackell. Cook believes many institutions are still sitting on the sidelines and watching. “I think it’s safe to say the market’s not dead. There’s definitely lots of activity. I think the biggest thing I see with clients is there’s a little bit of ‘paralysis through analysis’. Everyone’s trying to figure out this new hybrid work environment. How much space do they need? What term lease do they want to sign? When is the staff coming back? “Deals are going to happen,” he said, adding that the process is just going to take a little longer.