Anthony Giuffre, CEO and Founder of the multi-faceted Calgary-based company, says its burgeoning success can be attributed to the back-office component of operations – vertically integrated shared services that allow it to reach beyond the success level of simply being a real estate owner/operator.
“The essential parts and pieces drive any good business forward. In order to be successful, you need to have your entire business creating a sustainable, competitive advantage to drive revenue,” says Giuffre.
“But in behind, you need a strong back office. One of the most challenging aspects of entrepreneurship is balancing the big picture direction of the business, with the necessary resources to keep that business going day-to-day.”
Currently, the Avenue Living platform includes 5 investment funds, with approximately 10,000 multi-family units across 19 markets in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, more than 400,000 square feet of commercial space, over 37,000 acres of agricultural land and a growing self-storage business, as well as a recent launch into the U.S. multi-family residential market.
With the Avenue Living platform headed towards the $2-billion mark in assets by the end of the year, Giuffre says ensuring the professional teams in his enterprise have the appropriate infrastructure is vital.
He calls it the Platform.
“The biggest part of our success – of all the divisions within Avenue Living – is our Platform,” says Giuffre. “The infrastructure of this Platform includes our in-house departments, such as legal, accounting, operations and capital expenditure management, finance, capital markets, marketing, IT, and people & culture. All of those homogenize into the various funds, which in turn allow the leaders of those funds to be able to do what they’re good at.”
“As a result, we’ve hired a team of experts in the back office of those departments which support the centre of the wheel. These, in turn, support all the ancillary business units or other funds and businesses associated with our organization. This infrastructure, or the Platform, is the hub.”
Giuffre says the Platform is a catalyst for the company’s growth. It allows the company to check a business thesis to determine if it would be a scalable opportunity for Avenue Living. In-house experts provide the necessary insight into whether a potential business opportunity is viable.
“We hire people with purpose. The back office we’ve built has been very intentionally curated. We see the potential, we validate it financially, we build out a business plan, we assess its risk and opportunity, considering macro-economic factors along the way. Then, prior to taking that shot across the bow, we ensure the business systems can support that new venture or that new opportunity. If we find that we can’t validate it, then we will never go forward with it,” says Giuffre.
He says the back-office component of Avenue Living’s operation was present in a loose construct from day one. As the organization continued to grow, Giuffre realized that the Platform was not only being complemented, but that it continues to be strengthened by the size of the organization.
“We recognized, especially now going through three recessions and a pandemic, that we’ve built a team that is comfortable with uncertainty. This is something we’ve come to rely on, in tandem with our choice of asset class and the strength of our organization. The team we’ve built is resilient and transparent, giving us the real numbers and keeping us true to our direction,” says Giuffre.
“We pivoted based on sound research and fact. The other thing it allowed us to do was to start thinking about branding, communications strategies, marketing plans, legal, whatever it is. One house, one voice is what I always say. The Platform allows us to have a seamless way of thinking, in people & culture, and in how we do things as well as how we are structured as an organization. It’s very important that we create strategic management efficiencies so we can optimize the operations of all of our business lines – with clear direction and purpose,” adds Giuffre.