We’ve seen them on benches, billboards and bus shelters: ads featuring glamour shots of real-estate agents. Weird slogans that promise home sales, and sometimes use the agent’s name in some sort of rhyme. Claims of being in the top one per cent of this or the top earner in that.
Marc McMahon and Bruno Schiavon didn’t like this type of personality-over-property hard sell that was (and really, still is) commonplace in the real-estate business when they were young agents at RE/MAX. When they suggested changing the way clients’ homes were marketed, they were laughed off by the older agents. They were told not to fix a system that was working.
“But people should be asking, ‘What are you doing to sell my home, specifically?’” says Schiavon, sitting with McMahon in the open-concept Cloverdale office of the Foundry Real Estate Co.
What McMahon and Schiavon did was launch their own brokerage where emphasis would be put on selling homes, not themselves. Their faces aren’t even on their business cards. Schiavon says his sales doubled after leaving the big agency and co-founding the Foundry.
“We asked ourselves, what would we do differently?” says Schiavon.
“We needed to give a face-lift to the industry,” says McMahon. “We have to get away from that used-car-salesman image that so many real-estate agents get.”
The Foundry also bought the bestedmontonhomesearch.com website, part of McMahon and Schiavon’s philosophy not to try and do things themselves when others can do it better. It was better to take on the expertise of an experienced web venture, rather than start from scratch.
In an industry where agents bounce from broker- age to brokerage, Foundry is one of the few to offer benefits to employees.
And The Foundry works in conjunction with the Earth Group, run by Top 40 Under 40 alumni Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck. The Earth Group uses proceeds from water, coffee and tea sales to help fund ventures with the United Nations Food Programme. So, when a home sells, the Foundry gives the new owners an Earth gift box, and lets them know that they are supporting food, clean water and shelter for children abroad.