Furnished with decades of professional expertise in both residential and commercial construction, DiGreen Homes of Markham, Ontario is a third-generation family-owned home builder, with an active roster of homes and communities interspersed throughout much of Southern Ontario including Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Oakville, Brampton and Caledon.
DiGreen Homes plays a significant role in the development of thousands of homes and commercial properties over a wide geographic footprint. The company was founded on solid business ethics and integrity and quickly established a strong, respected reputation as a top-tier land developer. The company’s impressive portfolio has since expanded across the full spectrum of real estate construction and development, from new home communities of detached, semi-detached, townhomes and urban towns, to successful retail and commercial projects.
The Canadian Business Journal recently spoke with DiGreen Homes President Mohsin Masood about the company’s tremendous success. Masood took the reins of running day to day operations about 10 years ago. His father remains active in the business and serves as chairman of the group of companies.
“Unfortunately my grandfather, who started the company, left us in 2013. But before his passing away he was still very active and was our chairman prior to my father,” says Masood.
As part of a continuing theme of DiGreen Homes being a close-knit family affair, Masood’s brother joined the team in 2014 and he too now plays a very active role in day to day operations of the business in adding his own unique blend of skills and experience.
“I have a business background but my brother is a mechatronics engineer and my father is a mechanical engineer,” notes Masood. “To me the biggest thing is how willing and able is a person to work very hard and learn. Learning and working hard are the two most important features that I’ve seen in a prospective person to be joining our team.”
Depending on the scope of any given work project, DiGreen Homes has qualified employees with varying backgrounds to handle each and every task, including urban planning, civil engineering and accounting. There is also a support staff including one person on the team who has studied immunology in plants.
“What we see in people is potential and willingness to be able to work hard, learn new things and go from there,” notes Masood.
Scope of Work
The company’s head office is in Markham, north of Toronto, but as a land development and construction company DiGreen Homes stretches its geographic boundaries throughout a sizable part of Southern Ontario.
“We have to stretch our wings as much as we can to take on new work that is feasible and good for the company but we tend to stay within the bounds of the Greater Toronto Area,” explains Masood.
Targeting a variety of geographic areas means adapting accordingly. For example, Masood notes that Markham is very pro-business and it is evident in all aspects and with all staff members working for the City. The Town of Oakville on the other tends to take a more laid back approach and will move at their own pace when working on a project. Those fundamental characteristic differences apply to all municipalities and adjusting to them is necessary for Masood and DiGreen Homes in order to maximize efficiency.
“It is not a problem for us, but you learn to adapt when buying various pieces of properties in different jurisdictions,” he says.
DiGreen Homes works in both residential and construction but Masood estimates that residential would account for 80-90% of the entire business with commercial picking up the other 10-20%.
One of the headlining news stories over the past year has been runaway prices of homes, due in large part to a shortage of homes to purchase. The B.C. provincial government has installed a foreign tax in an effort to cool down the overheated Vancouver market. In Ontario, Finance Minister Charles Sousa recently announced similar measures. However, Sousa can’t say whether the 15% tax on foreign homebuyers will have an effect on the red-hot Greater Toronto Area market. The Toronto Real Estate Board — which represents about 45,000 realtors and brokers — said its survey of 3,500 members, conducted late last year, found that 4.9% of transactions in the Greater Toronto Area involved foreign buyers. The only other factor would seem to be a lack of supply. Masood and other home builders want to see more lands developed to ease the housing shortage. Masood expects there will soon be more approvals for new housing projects on many undeveloped lands.
“I am a very strong believer that we need to put some serious groundwork and start developing all these lands,” he says. “As a matter fact we’ve got a total of 12 applications in various municipalities right now. The point I’m trying to make is that we need to come up with more supply; we need to provide people with that opportunity to buy more units and have the ability to buy more units in order to stabilize this market that we have right now. It needs to happen to keep homes affordable for people.”
As developers and builders, Masood’s hands are tied. DiGreen Homes has those 12 applications in the suburban markets that are extremely tight right now. He wants to come up with that product, put it in for the offering, and sell the units to ease on the extreme shortage of supply. He says when that happens the system will correct itself.
“There is an acute shortage of product on the market right now,” says Masood. “As a community, we need to stay on the province about the need for opening up more areas for development and expedite the approval process.”
At DiGreen Homes there is always a strong commitment to building homes with the newest technologies and techniques. As an example; as opposed to using old lead pipes the company uses synthetic, more environmentally friendly pipes in new home builds.
“We try to push as much green in our own development as possible. Right now we are putting in trees not just on our developments but other people’s developments as well,” Masood proudly says. “We make sure that we’re not adversely impacting our environment in a way that you know it’s irreversible.”
The company is dedicated to staying ahead of the curve with new industry technologies that are shaping building trends, like smart-homes that are better connected, can control the thermostat.
“As technologies advance all of us need to keep up. There will always be much more room for improvement. As example, to conserve on electricity we’re adding light bulbs that save energy.
We try to implement as much of those as possible so that our product is environmentally friendly.”
It’s often said that a company is only as good as its employees, and it is evident Masood could not be more proud of the team that has been assembled at DiGreen Homes.
“We are proud of each and every one of our employees. Even when new members are joining our team we make it clear to emphasize that teamwork is an integral part of success,” he says.
Masood and his team have lofty expectations for the company and themselves. It’s understood by everyone involved in the company that buying a home is the most expensive purchase most people will make in their lives. DiGreen Homes is committed to providing superior quality craftsmanship, which means using the best products available. DiGreen Homes strives to go the extra mile so that each and every buyer gets the home of their dreams.
“To be blunt, I want to be at the very top. That is what we are striving to achieve,” states Masood. It’s a family company that builds homes for families.”