Episode 17 – Susan Allen’s 1st Podcast featuring BOMA Toronto

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Tim is really excited for this week’s guest.  He somehow managed to convince the President of BOMA Toronto to join him on this edition.  Susan Allen has a ton of experience in building management, including a decade at Cadillac Fairview.  Tim’s been super-impressed with her work ethic for a long time and was thrilled when she agreed to appear on the show.

Susan has been in the industry for a little over twenty years.  She worked at TD Centre for about eight years and later was asked to move over to the retail side of the business.  Her first property was at Woodbine Centre which was a faltering shopping mall in Etobicoke.  She managed to turn the place around and learned a lot about retail in the process.  Moving from commercial to retail was very different. The commercial world is a lot more buttoned-down and corporate.  Woodbine depended on a lot of small businesses with very different expectations. Tim gets to brass tacks right away.

“Who pays their rent better?  Retail or commercial?” He asks point blank.

Susan is very diplomatic in her answer.  She says big corporate retailers are pretty easy to deal with because they are so stable.  The smaller mom and pop operations are often struggling and that meant Susan had to make accomodations for them.

Susan had already worked with BOMA for more than a decade before she came over to work as President.  She had left her position at Cadillac Fairview to get her MBA. Shortly after the President of BOMA left and she was asked to take over.

“Is BOMA an old boys club?” Tim asks.

When he was more involved with the organization he found it to be a pretty insular place.  Susan says they have worked very hard to change that. Every member can apply for any position now and they will all be guaranteed at least an interview.  BOMA has also been working hard to open the organization to younger professionals.

“Do women get paid less than men?”  Tim asks.

Susan says she hasn’t experienced that in her career, with the caveat that she has worked with two great companies over the years.  These days top talent is in such high demand that she would be shocked if it was pervasive practice.

“It just doesn’t make any business sense.” She says.

Tim wraps up the conversation by asking if she works more or less hours since moving to BOMA.  Her husband asked the same question. She says she’s just not wired that way. She’s always working to raise the bar higher.

“You’re a total powerhouse.” Tim says.




Episode 8 – Dead in the hot tub w/ Bill Stallon

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Tim was just a young pup when he met this week’s guest Bill Stallon. The BOMA lunch at the King Eddy was essential for hobnobbing back in the day. That’s where a scrappy new entrant into the construction trade first encountered a well-seasoned, construction veteran named Bill Stallin.

“I was 22 which means you were 42.” Tim tells Bill in this week’s episode.

Bill and Tim became fast friends. But Bill also became Tim’s mentor, a fact that he still doesn’t entirely understand.

“Why’d you let me hang around all the time?”

“Because I couldn’t get rid of you!”

Back then Tim had just struck out on his own and his day consisted of pounding on doors from 7 a.m. until noon, looking for new clients. Then he would find out where Bill was and the pair would commence drinking. The booze wasn’t entirely social. They both used those lunches to harangue old clients or get to know the new ones. One of their regular meeting places was the Matisse Restaurant in the Marriott Hotel. Because it was near the subway there was an open invitation for clients to meet up at 4 p.m. every Thursday. It was a great way to stay in touch with clients but it was also really fun.

“My bills for food and booze were 7 or 8 thousand a month back then,” Tim says.

Business schmoozing is nothing like it used to be. When Tim gets a request for a bid from a company that he doesn’t know he likes to call them up. He asks to take them to lunch and to fill our a credit application. Then they hang-up.

Tim uses the last portion of his conversation with Bill to talk about one of their more memorable adventures together. Tim was given a last minute invitation to join Bill and a group of other industry friends for a ski trip to Beaver Valley. The night consisted of a giant steak dinner followed by a card game. The card game went on until 2 in the morning at which point Tim found himself $10 thousand up. This despite not knowing how to play cards.

The group then retired to the hot tub. Because no one had swim trunks that meant everyone was naked. Not having anything to drink one of the hosts offered a full bottle of XO Cognac. It was 30 below that night so one has to imagine four pasty white construction guys bobbing naked in a steaming hot tub, toques on their heads while getting absolutely shit-faced on cognac.

“My dad used to spill more than I drank,” Bill says in an attempt to explain what happened next.

After drinking the entire bottle Bill was now soundly asleep, happily bobbing in the tub. Tim gently placed his knee under Bill’s head to prevent him from drowning. They also used his exposed stomach and chest as cup holders. It’s now 5 a.m. and Tim declares that it’s time to get Bill out of the hot tub. What followed next was a heroic attempt to move the much larger Bill out of the Tim.

After dragging Bill like a corpse across a frozen threshold they left him in the laundry room. (Covered up for modesty’s sake) The rest of the group made breakfast and went skiing for the day. It was only after returning at 4 p.m. that Bill finally woke up.

“That’s my favourite Bill Stallin story.” Tim declares.


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