Doing Business in a City That Likes to Do Business
Given the success of Canada ICI’s Calgary branch today, it’s almost hard to believe the office had such humble beginnings. Managing Partner Doug Milne recalls those days clearly, as he reminisces about the “tiny office in a seedy area of town” that the branch started in. “I remember telling Dale [Klein] that we were not going to be able to hire anyone,” Doug adds, “because they just wouldn’t want to walk to their cars at night after work.”
From the branch’s current home in a clean modern commercial building on 4th Street in Mission, those early days sure do feel like a long time ago. “Today, when I say I work for Canada ICI, people say, ‘I’ve seen your signs everywhere! You guys are on every piece of real estate that’s moving today,’” Doug says. “That sort of anecdotal endorsement tells me we’re doing something right.”
When the Calgary branch got started, Dale sent Rizwan Hussainaly along to help Doug get the office off the ground. “Rizwan had never lived on his own before. He was burning pizzas at his place because he’d never cooked for himself,” Doug recalls with a laugh. “He was really green at the time, but now he and I partner on every deal that we do. The potential is limitless for him.” Rizwan’s story is like many others at Canada ICI, where business growth spurs more career opportunities and personal development.
With the heart of Canada ICI residing in Edmonton, Calgary was an easy choice for expansion. “It was the natural next step in terms of being the preeminent experts in western Canada,” Doug says. “I think it was a natural progression in terms of both geography and culture.” These days, ICI Calgary occupies a thematic midpoint for the company as a whole — it doesn’t quite have the company HQ feel of Edmonton, but it has had more time to develop as a production branch than the Toronto office.
By nature, people here in Calgary are entrepreneurial and friendly,
What’s it like doing business in Calgary? “By nature, people here in Calgary are entrepreneurial and friendly,” Doug says. “I think potential clients are open to taking meetings, where you might have more of a challenge getting face-to-face time in Toronto.” The contrast from market to market makes it even more important for ICI to have people like those in the Calgary office — individuals who fit the overarching Canada ICI culture, but also have the ability to adapt to the specifics of Canada’s varied regional attitudes and approaches to doing business.