Welcome to SIOR Spotlight, a monthly profile of some of our most amazing SIORs in the Canada Central Chapter. In this series, get to know SIORs of the Canada Central Chapter and their unique paths towards success in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.
For this month’s SIOR CCC Spotlight, we had the privilege of sitting with two incredible father and son SIORs, Matt D’Orsay and Larry D’Orsay. A veteran in the industry, Larry brings over 50 years of experience and has been pivotal to the success in the industry at large. A strong proponent of mentorship, Larry continuously provides guidance, leadership and support throughout the industry. Matt D’Orsay is a partner at Ellington with over 16 years experience in the Commercial Real Estate industry. Ethical, strategic and client-focused, he is a trusted partner and advocate for many of today’s leading Fortune 500 companies.
Continue reading to learn about the story of Larry and Matt in this delightful Father’s Day introduction of SIOR CCC Spotlight.
What’s your story and how did you get started in the CRE industry?
Larry: I grew up as western Toronto boy–I am still in Toronto. My father was in real estate, but It was my neighbour who brought me into the industrial side of real estate when he hired me right out of school. Back then there was no tech, and everything was paper. Eventually his friends got to know me and they encouraged me to join SIOR. I attended the seminars and functions, and created a network.
Matt: I’ve been exposed to the industry my whole life. As a young boy, I would help around the office and travel to the world conferences with my family. I distinctly remember being in New York City for one of the world conferences as a kid. It was Halloween season so a lot of the SIOR members had their kids with them and we got to trick or treat at the hotel. I received a lot of my great memories as a kid through SIOR while spending time with my family, which is a testament to the association. It’s a wonderful, collaborative group of people and I’ve always felt very welcome.
Did you always want to get involved in real estate like your dad?
Matt: I went into consulting after university and I travelled a lot. In hindsight, I think I am much better professionally for having some diverse experiences in my career before coming into real estate. I recommend that anyone looking to get into real estate should have independent professional experience
Can you name some benefits and privileges of carrying the designation?
Matt: Sharing market intelligence and best practices. You are closely affiliated with the best brokers globally and across asset classes, so to share those experiences, best practices and market information is tremendously beneficial to anyone that's in the commercial real estate industry.
Larry: One of the keys of the organization is to get involved and get to know members. Go to the seminars and get involved with the board. People will get to know you, and you’ll get some good business as a result.
Matt: I can’t stress the importance of active involvement enough. It helps in terms of networking and building strong personal relationships through active involvement and it’s very rewarding. Additionally, we work in a very competitive business which needs to be balanced with integrity and ethics, and one of the core values of SIOR is upholding the highest of ethical standards.
Matt: You can get involved with SIOR CCC prior to receiving the designation through the member associates program and I would strongly encourage that to anyone that is newer to the industry. You can get involved in our food drives, help organize an educational event, or golf tournament.
When you think about the industry at large, the level that we want to compete at, and the relationships that are established in the industry, mentorship is important.
Who were your biggest inspirations and helpers?
Larry: My inspiration was the man that got me involved in the business, along with the network of people that he had around him. They were all SIORs. They represented everything that top quality real estate agents should possess: they were honest and straightforward and they were the ones who encouraged me to get involved.
Matt: Hands down my biggest inspiration would have to be my dad. To have a mentor is important, but to have one that truly has your best interest in mind is incredible. So without question, my biggest inspiration is my dad. In terms of helpers, I would say that as a young person in the business, the senior folks within the association were so helpful to me early on in my career, certainly within the central Canadian Chapter and SIOR at large. Aside from working with my dad, being involved with SIOR has been one of the best things I’ve done with my career.To have them reach out to me and embrace me has been an incredible help.
How important is it to have a mentor in the industry?
Larry: Without a mentor you’ll be swimming uphill all day long. Having a mentor will get up off to the right start and without that you’ll get lost.
Matt: Our industry is a wonderful one but it is highly competitive. When you think about the industry at large, the level we have to compete at, and the relationships that are established in the industry, mentorship is important. There is a high level of trust required when facilitating transactions, along with building trust with colleagues and competitors, and providing a high level of customer service to your clients. Having proper mentorship to lead you through is important.
Now you can take a university course which will outline everything that you need to know in real estate; this was not available to us 50 - 60 years ago.
In today’s climate, what would be your first step if you had to start from zero?
Larry: I’d have to look around to find someone that has worked in the fringes of the business, or someone who is deeply involved, reach out and get an understanding of what the business is about. In the years past, my name has floated out towards young people who wanted to get started in the industry. I would have a coffee with them and encourage them to align themselves with someone that was a professional in the industry and go from there. I would also stress to them that it’s not an easy business to get involved today.
Matt: Meet with as many people as possible. Whether it’s in brokerage, development and construction, or different types of ownership, get to know the industry. There are many different facets to the industry along with a wealth of opportunity in every sector. Take the time to understand them and make an informed decision of which aspect of the industry that you would like to get into.
What advice do you have for newcomers in the industry?
Larry: The industry has many facets to it, so it would be good for someone to determine early in their career which aspect of it that they would like to work in. Now you can take a university course which will outline everything that you need to know; this was not available to us 50 - 60 years ago.
Matt: Maintain your integrity, have faith in the future and have confidence in yourself. The industry is evolving so be vocal in respect to your skill set and knowledge base. Early in your career you don't have to have all the answers but you need to be transparent with those around you. I would also like to stress the importance of hard work. Lastly, focus on genuine personal relationships versus just the transaction.
Larry: Be truthful.
The Central Canadian Chapter events help strengthen your personal relationships locally, but the world conferences are just a different level of multi-market businesses and sharing best practices and you can build wonderful relationships through that too.
What kind of sacrifices are involved in order to thrive in this industry?
Larry: For me personally it’s been pretty well balanced, but there are times you’ll have to sacrifice some time away from your family.
Matt: I would say that it’s a full-time commitment without question, so there are aspects of sacrificing your time; however, you do have a greater degree of control over your time, so using your time wisely and focusing on what you're best at is really important.
What’s your favourite SIOR CCC event and why?
Larry: The world conferences for me too. Back in the day the international aspect of SIOR was limited to Canada and the United States, now they are bigger. As Matt said, we made a family holiday out of all of them.
Matt: The world conferences, hands down. They’re all great, especially Ski day but professionally the world conferences are my favourite. The Central Canadian Chapter events help strengthen your personal relationships locally, but the world conferences are just a different level of multi-market businesses and sharing best practices and you can build wonderful relationships through that too.
Do you have any interesting quotes or mantras that you would like to share with our audience?
Larry: When we’re dealing with one of the most challenging problems, we would look at each other, smile and say, “I love this business!”
Matt: There are so many good stories that come out of this business with the people that you work with. It’s wonderful to see all of the success that are in the industry.