Camgill Enterprises Ltd.

With skiing, hiking, kiteboarding and flying among the pastimes of its staff, one would expect the employees of Camgill Enterprises Ltd. to capitalize on real estate and development opportunities quickly. “We do things quicker and with more agility than maybe some others,” Senior Vice President Ron Mosher declares.

“We’ve always maintained that our success is built on our ability to make decisions and move quickly,” he continues. “On a number of occasions, we’ve managed to win business by the fact that we can make the decision to get involved in the early planning stages. There are few companies in this day and age that make that decision very quickly, and we do.”

Flexibility and the ability to move in a different direction also are important to the company. “We consider ourselves opportunists, and we’ll gravitate to where the action is,” Mosher says. Lately, that action has been in the oil and gas industry.

“Oil and gas for sure is our favorite industry to be in,” Mosher emphasizes.The tenants of Camgill Enterprises – the largest owner of industrial real estate in Fort McMurray – are companies that provide services and products for the oil and gas industry.

 “Many of those are oil-related users,” Mosher says. “We continue to nurture those users. We like that business. We understand it. They’re entrepreneurial and easy to deal with, and the buildings aren’t complicated.”

Auto Dealerships

Camgill Enterprises does not develop speculative projects. “Our business model is to own and manage,” Mosher emphasizes. “So we build for cash flow. We’re not merchant developers, but periodically, we do sell if it makes sense to do so, for whatever reason. I think that unlike a merchant developer that is strictly focused on cost, we focus more on quality and longevity of product and longevity of tenants.”

The company had been developing retail properties until that market began to slow during the last recession. “We have seen the retail market soften a bit, at least in the markets we operate in,” Mosher reports. “So we’ve gone to another very active tenant, and that is the car business. We’re building more car dealerships currently because they’re active. They’ve got pretty good covenants, and so we’ve made our way into that business.”

The auto dealership’s owner usually will locate the dealership’s site and the auto manufacturer generally provides the design. “We buy the site for them and we build for them,” Mosher says. “We’ll own it in the long term, and they will rent from us for 15 years.”

While Camgill Enterprises continues to work in retail, it also is concentrating on large land plays. 

“We are looking at a residential subdivision, a 160-acre parcel partially developed,” Mosher explains. The land is in Camrose, a town of approximately 15,000 located one hour south of Edmonton.

Mixed Use

The company also is continuing a mixed multiuse development in Fort McMurray named Quarry Ridge that it began conceptualizing six-and-a-half years ago. This fall, construction will start on its 36-acre site and be completed by 2018. “It’s been a long process,” Mosher concedes. The first phase of 20 acres will include approximately 350,000 square feet of rental space.

Camgill Enterprises usually hires the architect and a construction manager/general contractor for its projects. It also has two managers in-house who oversee its construction projects. The company incorporates sustainable environmental practices in its projects and developed a building for an engineering company that achieved LEED Silver certification.

It also is experimenting with modular construction in its developments and following the trend toward use of laminated wood more than steel for structural components. “There are a lot of very interesting wood buildings being built,” Mosher maintains. “It can be cheaper, the construction schedule is usually shorter, it’s quicker to build with wood and it is renewable.”

A challenge Mosher cites is rising development costs. “The other big issues are permitting and zoning,” he says. “Getting through the legal process with municipalities is very, very difficult.” 

General economic uncertainty is keeping some regions in Canada more prosperous than others. “We happen to be lucky enough to be in a resource-based province that is doing very well,” Mosher points out. “The oil and gas business is an extremely volatile business, but there’s been obviously a pretty good run-up for 20 years.” 

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Camgill Enterprises does not rely as much on market research when choosing projects as on relationships with its clients, the experience of its employees and who is involved in a project.

“We don’t rely on numbers,” Mosher emphasizes. “We rely more on how it feels. Our decision-making is more entrepreneurial than it’s institutional. We rely on other aspects of a deal, such as location, tenant mix, financeability – these we can generally determine quickly.”

Camgill Enterprises Founder and President Neil MacGillivray is an active individual, and that attitude extends throughout the company.

“He puts a lot of stock in health and wellness,” Mosher notes. “We have a gym in our office. We have a chef that comes in once every couple of weeks and cooks a health-smart meal in our kitchen and gives out the recipes, these sorts of things. We have a bike rack in our lobby, and we’re encouraged to cycle to work. We put a lot of emphasis on activity and health and wellness.”­­­­­­

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