There are over a million family-owned businesses in Canada. These businesses contribute 60 percent to our nation’s GDP and employ 50 percent of the workforce. Needless to say, family businesses are huge drivers to our nation’s economy and have a proven competitive advantage and survival rate compared to non-family entities.
The family-owned business has secured not only a reputation built on trust with clients, suppliers and partners, but has established a foundation for the next generation that will take the helm and move the company forward.
Forty years strong, Larlyn Property Management Limited is one such family-owned business. From its humble beginnings in 1975 at its headquarters in London, Ontario, the company has established itself as a Canadian leader in the property management industry, offering services in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The management company continues to grow, creating a legacy both locally and nationally with its unique brand of knowledge, accountability and training with a strong focus on people.
“We work with our clients wherever they may need management assistance,” explains Michael Holmes, Larlyn’s President and COO, and son of the company’s co-founders, Larry and Lynne Holmes. Larlyn Property Management Ltd. is a full service provider showcasing management expertise that extends to all building facilities – condominium, residential, commercial, industrial, heritage landmarks and communities still under construction.
Overseeing approximately 40,000 units valued at more than $6 billion, Larlyn employs over 600 people and firmly believes that in order to been seen as the best, they need to hire the best. Just as human personalities differ, so too does a company culture.
Larlyn believes that its exceptional service to clients is attributable to having a great team promoting what the Larlyn Property Management Ltd. name and company culture represents – its values and practices shared by every employee. It’s all about attitude.
“We do have a training program that we can put people through,” says Michael. “A lot of our business is dealing with people, whether it’s a homeowner who lives in a building and actually has purchased a unit or whether it’s a tenant who lives in a rented building. At the end of the day, it’s still their home.”
A particular challenge that accompanies growth in the property management industry is addressing the various expectations of clients and providing solutions with an efficient, knowledgeable and accountable team. Larlyn strives to “find the right individuals to be part of our team to service our growth and look after our customers,” says Michael. It’s about having the same customer service mindset “that Larlyn was built around.”
As part of its corporate philosophy, Larlyn provides education and training programs to ensure employees are abreast of innovative and current best practices in all operational aspects. Company managers possess or work toward a Registered Condominium Manager (RCM) designation through in-house training. Larlyn also funds 100 percent of tuition costs and professional dues for those employees with designations and those seeking educational improvement courses. With a focus on advancing both knowledge and skills, it’s a win-win for both employees and Larlyn. Training outreach is extended not only to employees but clients as well, explains Michael.
“We spend as much time training our clientele on the industry – what’s changing, understanding what their role is and how they can excel at their role if it’s a board member,” he says. This is done through seminars, webinars and e-guides, for example, “so that we have a better educated client. Together we can make better decisions for each of the communities that we look after.”
Larlyn appreciates that clients have different needs and expectations. The company’s client services department validates how they’re meeting these expectations by garnering feedback that is forwarded to the operational and client accounting team. Larlyn can then aim to develop and build ways to satisfy those needs.
Of course, a family-owned business has some distinct characteristics that differentiate it from the non-family competition. There is a sense of loyalty toward the business and a passion for what the business represents. The efforts of forefathers are strong motivators for subsequent generations to carry the torch, so to speak, in ensuring that the vision for the company is realized for years to come. Those employees who are not family members tend to develop an affinity for the family and the business and share its values and work ethic. As Michael explains, a family business is less driven by short term financial gain and more focused on long term goals.
“Our founders are still active in the business today,” he shares. “We’re looking at decisions that need to be made today for the benefit of our clients and our business… We’re looking far ahead on decisions we need to be making today to better our company five to ten years down the road… We always feel that’s the way the company will continue to grow.”
As for the future of this family owned business, the company expects to grow in new markets and although, “We’re not necessarily looking to be the largest, we like to be the best at what we do,” shares Michael. “We’d like to keep the clients that we have and look to add ones that have the same vision and meet our desire to address or accomplish challenges.”
Many clients have in fact been with Larlyn since its inception, a telling indication of the company’s ability to deliver on expectations through a client-centric approach to doing business. This approach is the core of Larlyn Property Management Limited’s philosophy, culture and mission statement as it moves forward. As for this family business’s 40th anniversary, Michael concludes, “It’s always nice to hit those milestones. It just means you must be doing something okay.”