Q&A With Newly Minted Colliers Brokerage Services Chief Scott Addison
Scott Addison has just been named president of Colliers International’s Canadian brokerage services. A 28-year industry vet who most recently headed up the firm’s Eastern Canadian ops, Scott tells us what he’s got in mind for the new gig.
Bisnow: What are your plans for your expanded role?
Scott: I spend a lot of time working on culture because I believe culture eats strategy for breakfast every day. You can come up with the most brilliant business strategy, but if you can’t get your organization to listen and do it and want to bring in change, you’re not going to be successful. So going forward I see more integration, certainly on the broker side. Office to office, working together on constant improvement.
Colliers has a lot of things going for it, and the next 20 years of my career look good. I’m 56, so some people will see that and say he must be joking. I don’t think I am.
Below: York Downs Golf Club, which Scott’s team helped to sell earlier this year. "(The deal) was complex, large and had approximately 400 members involved," he says. "Our agents did a tremendous job."
Bisnow: How did you get into the industry?
Scott: I joined the business in 1989, starting in commission sales. It was a small brokerage, a senior broker and me, and it didn’t last long. I ended up joining the Arnoldi Group, doing industrial, though they were primarily an office group. In 1992, they were acquired by Colliers, and I worked in their Mississauga office with a great team and a great manager, Jim McIntosh, who is still with Colliers—and my career took off.
Despite the fact we were in recession, every year in commercial real estate I made more money than I had in my previous job. I had more fun, and I was more engaged in what I was doing. More-senior people were complaining about how tough it was, and all I could think about how great this was compared with selling abrasives and sandpaper—which is what I did previously.
Bisnow: When did you move into management?
Scott: I worked in sales for about 12 years, until 2001, then I had an opportunity to manage our west office, which was predominantly industrial but had some office people. I learned it was a bigger role than you think as a sales person; it’s all about running a business, not just the sales side of it.
And I saw an opportunity to bring our Toronto partner-managers together as a team. And that worked really well for us; it allowed us to start moving programs, like training, faster. Instead of each office developing a training program, one did it for everybody. That teamwork helped accelerate Colliers; our market share starting moving up, and it was a great joint effort of our management team and our agents working together.
Above: Scott with his wife and daughter, feeling festive.
Bisnow: Tell us about yourself outside of the office.
Scott: I love hockey; I still play. I tell my wife, Allison, it’s three times a week but she knows I play five. And boating—a great family event and a great business event. We do a lot of boating on Lake Ontario. We are a real estate family. My wife is a successful residential agent, and I’ve learned a lot from how residential does marketing—it’s often better than commercial companies.
Family occupies a lot of my time, and in the future maybe more travel. I’ve been fortunate through Colliers to travel to Australia, Europe and all through the US. I’d like to go to Dubai and other parts of the Middle East where huge development is going on. And South Africa. I don’t know what it is but the country intrigues me. And I’d love to go to Monaco. If it was Formula 1 week, it would be a complete dream.
Bisnow: Read any good books lately? What’s your taste in music?
Scott: Well the longest book I ever read was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I enjoy everything from business books to classic novels. And biographies, predominantly about political leaders. But I’ve read all the Rolling Stones books—Ron Wood’s and Keith Richards’...really liked that.
As far as music goes, my taste's pretty diverse. Generally I like music with more energy and edge to it, like '70s punk rock. But as I get older, my wife’s Carly Simon is OK, too.