BayShore Groups is a highly-respected single source, global provider for end-to-end turnkey solutions in real property acquisition, rehabilitation, redevelopment and sale. With headquarters in St. Catharines, Ontario it strategically positions the company near the Canada-USA border. Among its current projects is a massive redevelopment of the former General Motors plant in St. Catharines, which will redefine the landscape just outside the city’s downtown core.
The Canadian Business Journal held a Question and Answer session with BayShore Groups CEO Robert Megna about the company’s tremendous success.
CBJ: BayShore Groups was established back in 1979. In your own words, could you provide a brief synopsis on the company’s history, its professional services and perhaps some of the milestones along the way that have helped form its main characteristics of the company – bringing us up to where we are today in 2016?
Robert Megna (RM): BayShore Groups got its start in the manufacturing of plastic water bottles. When the plant was sold BayShore executives auctioned off all the equipment to their vast and established industrial network, and realized a new business. BayShore Groups started purchasing larger and larger plants and abandoned facilities, selling everything from equipment, to scrap and eventually the real estate. The company continued to grow and now is a global provider for end-to-end turnkey solutions in real property acquisition, rehabilitation, redevelopment and sale.
CBJ: How many employees do you have working with you in your office in St. Catharines and by extension your European office in Hungary and in the U.S. and Philippines? Belleville?
RM: BayShore Groups is an international company with properties, assets and offices around the world. Heading these offices are our trusted BayShore executives and management team that have grown with the company like a family. Employee and management numbers are always fluctuating as different projects enter different stages of our services. BayShore Groups employs hundreds of regular, contract and management personnel globally with numbers rising as the scopes of projects do.
CBJ: What was it about BayShore that attracted you to want to lead it as CEO?
RM: I am a businessman and an investor but overall an engineer and take notice when I see a business as thought out, structured and progressive as BayShore. That being said, the company is only as good as its leaders and Leslie and Chiara are simply top notch in what they do. Leslie, our Chairman, brings an old school style of doing business in a respectful, hard working and mechanical way of thinking. Of course, I could relate to his way of thinking right of the bat as he is an engineer as well. Leslie’s hard work and ability to forge and maintain relationships is what laid the foundation for what BayShore is today. Chiara my wife and our vice president, is one of the strongest leaders I know and brings a scrupulous outlook to all of our business dealings. Chiara has worked with Leslie since she was a child and knows the company and industry inside and out.
CBJ: As CEO do you have your own specific plans on the direction the company will take that you feel will lead to even greater success – and ways to continue to build upon BayShore’s success in the marketplace for end-to-end turnkey solutions in real property acquisition, rehabilitation, redevelopment and sale?
RM: As CEO it is my job to move the company forward and find the best opportunities to do so. BayShore is always looking at opportunities ahead and ways to increase productivity and of course profitability. As our projects increase in frequency and scope so do our resources, network and credibility in the industry.
CBJ: Are there plans to expand into even more areas of expertise or are you now focused entirely on bringing about the very best of what you now provide?
RM: The answer is both. Through its existing projects and services, BayShore will continue to optimize its productivity and workflow. Looking at our past and how BayShore began I can guarantee you, there is always thought and research going into other potential areas of profitability, that BayShore could leverage its resources and expertise to expand into. As BayShore grows so-to does our opportunity for a more diverse portfolio of companies and services.
CBJ: You are currently working on a major project just outside the downtown core of St. Catharines with the repurposing of the former General Motors land, which BayShore acquired in 2014. What is the projected total value of the redevelopment and once it is completed, what mix of residential and commercial structures will be in place?
RM: The projected value of the Ontario St former GM plant redevelopment is estimated at over $200 million dollars. We are currently meeting with developers, architects and working closely with the City of St. Catharines to maximize the utilization of those 54 acres. BayShore had a vision for this footprint before it was even purchased and we are now looking for partners who share or can help deliver this vision into reality. This is one of the largest redevelopments in Ontario and will have a huge impact on the future generations of people living in Niagara. We have our deadlines and deliverables in place but also want to ensure it is done right.
CBJ: How far along is BayShore in the process at the Ontario St. location?
RM: The first processes of demolition are coming complete with the west side being 100% and east side being 70%. As the demolition finishes we are ramping up the design and planning phase for redevelopment.
CBJ: What level of ongoing dialogue is required with the City of St. Catharines and Mayor Walter Sendzik?
RM: BayShore has a very close ongoing dialogue with the City of St. Catharines staff and departments especially their health and safety, economic development and mayor’s office. The City and regulatory departments have been very cooperative and supportive of our efforts and Mayor Sendzik and I regularly update each other on our progress. We are also in contact with various city and regional counsellors throughout all stages of BayShore’s involvement in the area.
CBJ: With BayShore Groups having headquarters in St. Catharines, do you anticipate a number of other future projects to arise in the Golden Horseshoe Area… or in this day and age, is the location of a company’s headquarters less of a factor, given that you have projects throughout Canada, North America and the world for that matter?
RM: As stated before, BayShore looks to all potential projects that prove to be profitable and within the allowances of BayShore’s services, expertise and resources. Being in Niagara has brought several more local potential projects to our attention, but our sights will always remain global.
CBJ: Are there any key projects that BayShore Groups has worked on that you are particularly proud of that you like to showcase as part of the company’s excellent work portfolio?
RM: BayShore has grown exponentially from each project and each year that has passed since our incorporation. This growth is due to the projects, people and environments we have had to deal with. Our proudest and most testing of all projects so far has to be the GM site in St. Catharines. This is due, of course, to the project size and BayShore’s involvement, from demolition to development, but also the cities connection to what the plant was and what it meant to St. Catharines. This is unlike any other project we have dealt with in scope and is also now our family home and BayShore’s corporate head office.
CBJ: BayShore Groups has a sincere commitment to environmental issues and corporate social responsibility. Robert, could you tell us about how that is important for your company to be innovative leaders in that regard?
RM: BayShore doesn’t just purchase parcels of land and properties it purchases parts of existing communities. These communities follow strict regulations and protocols set forth by all levels of government to maintain the highest environmental, legal and by-law standards. BayShore considers these communities as partners in all levels of development and strives to keep them safe, informed and involved. It is within BayShore’s best interests to remain socially, environmentally and corporately responsible as these communities are testaments to BayShores’ past and keys to its future.
CBJ: How does BayShore integrate itself into the communities it works in?
RM: BayShore has a rigorous “master plan” it has developed to give back to the community, especially in its new home of St. Catharines. Since Chiara and I arrived in St. Catharines we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and have put in place a plan to help youth strive to achieve their goals. This plan involves programs for at-risk youth such as boxing and Muay Thai, after school mentorship programs and large events donating proceeds to special needs and in-need youth.