Twenty years later, CBRE Ottawa is still going strong — and getting stronger

Local office of global commercial real estate and investment services firm hosts anniversary party on the eve of Ottawa Real Estate Forum
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From left, Ian Shackell, senior V-P of the Ottawa office of CBRE Ltd., with office operations manager Connie Marszowski, vice president Jim Shotton and managing director Shawn Hamilton at a 20th anniversary reception the company hosted. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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It’s every host’s worst nightmare: throwing a big party only to have nobody show up.

Shawn Hamilton, managing director of CBRE's Ottawa office, confessed as much as he welcomed a newly arriving guest to a reception his commercial real estate services firm organized Wednesday in celebration of their 20 years of doing business in Ottawa.

Clearly, Hamilton had nothing to worry about. The venue, Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant, was as packed as a brand-new LRT train during peak rush hour. Some 330 guests came and went throughout the night, including Mayor Jim Watson, Invest Ottawa president and CEO Michael Tremblay and even an Olympian — retired ski racer Ryan Semple, who's now working in the real estate industry.

Guests were so busy chatting, networking and indulging in business banter that Hamilton decided against interrupting the room to deliver a few brief remarks. “Why take people away from what they’re doing?” Hamilton told OBJ.social.

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More than 300 guests attended a reception CBRE hosted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant to celebrate its 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Mayor Jim Watson with Shawn Hamilton, managing director of CBRE's Ottawa office, at a reception CBRE hosted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant to celebrate its 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Kyle Turk, vice president of marketing for Keynote Group with its CEO and co-founder, James Baker, and Erin Binks, business development specialist at Grade A, at a reception hosted by CBRE to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary of being in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Invest Ottawa president and CEO Michael Tremblay with Jeff Westeinde, president of Zibi, at a reception hosted by CBRE to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary of being in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Victoria Scott, sales associate at CBRE, with Julianne Wright, director and general manager at Altus Group, Ashley Hopkins, CEO at Paradigm Properties Inc., and Susan Rowe, with Morguard, at a reception hosted by CBRE to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips

It’s been two decades since well-known Ottawa real estate executives Jim Shotton and Ian Shackell left their jobs with Royal LePage Commercial to open the Ottawa office of CB Richard Ellis, now known as CBRE. 

CBRE is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, with 2018 revenues of $21.3 billion and more than 90,000 employees.

Shotton and Shackell started as a shop of three, with Connie Marszowski as office operations manager.

The trio, along with Hamilton, piled into one of the restaurant booths on Wednesday to chat briefly with OBJ.social, just before their party started to roll. The cozy but cramped seating space reminded Marszowski of their very first office, or so she joked.

The founders remain as humble as when they first began, in The Carlisle building at 440 Laurier Ave. W. Their office has since moved, three times, and now occupies roughly 10,000 square feet on the 7th floor of Little Italy’s Preston Square. 

“I think we’re all very proud of the accomplishments and of the growth of the company,” said Shackell. “Every year we seem to get better and grow in terms of our client base and our market reach.”

Also a source of pride for Shackell is having his son, Matt Shackell, join the team as a commercial real estate sales representative. 

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From left, Ian Shackell, who helped to found the Ottawa office of CBRE, with his son, Matt Shackell, who also works with CBRE, at a 20th anniversary reception the company hosted at the Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Today, Ottawa employs some 45 people in brokerage and project management but has a total of more than 100 staff with the company’s global workplace solutions folks, who are onsite at facilities across the city.

“We’ve really morphed in the last 20 years from a brokerage company to a full-services commercial real estate company,” said Hamilton. “We do help tenants, we do help landlords, we do help investors, but we also deal in project management, we deal in facilities management, we deal in property management and we deal in workplace solutions.

“There really isn’t an element of commercial real estate that we don’t touch. Still, the roots that we came from, being that entrepreneurial brokerage spirit, is still in our DNA and is still what grounds us."

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From left, Derek Howe, vice president at Taggart Group of Companies, with Jonathan Westeinde, CEO and founder of Windmill Developments, at the Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of CBRE's presence in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jamie Boyce, vice president with CBRE's Ottawa office, with retired Olympic ski racer Ryan Semple, now working with Avenue31 Capital, at a reception CBRE hosted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant to celebrate its 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Stephanie Thompson from QuadReal Property Group with Sheena Whitten, leasing and marketing at Huntington Properties, at the Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of CBRE's presence in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Jeff Snyder, vice president of sales and solutions at Capital Office Interiors Ltd., with Bobbie Jo Walsh, new business development manager at Haworth, at a reception CBRE hosted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant to celebrate its 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Hamilton credits Shotton and Shackell for the expertise they were able to bring to CBRE when they first opened the Ottawa office. 

“These two guys, when they started, were really established and really what I’d call the backbone of the commercial real estate community,” he said.

“Jim, for example, was one of the pioneers of brokering in Kanata before Kanata was cool. Ian was at the forefront of industrial real estate.

“They were ahead of the curve in terms of their business practice, in terms of client care. They spotted an opportunity with the company that would match their pedigree rather than the other way around, and I think that really created a synergy that allowed us all to grow as a result of that.”

The reception took place the eve of the 25th Annual Ottawa Real Estate Forum, held at the Ottawa Event & Conference Centre.

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From left, Michael Zanon, senior director at GWL Realty Advisors, with Hugh Gorman, CEO of Colonnade BridgePort, and Paul Cook, vice president with CBRE in Ottawa, at a reception CBRE hosted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant to celebrate CBRE's 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Kirsten Sardelis, senior partnerships specialist at Invest Ottawa, with Tessa Laberge, a sales representative with CBRE, at a reception CBRE hosted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at Métropolitain Brasserie Restaurant to celebrate its 20th anniversary in Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca

Archives bonus: Here's a trip down memory lane, featuring OBJ's original coverage of CBRE's first days in Ottawa.

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