Skyline Group Of Companies
The Skyline Group of Companies (“Skyline”) is one of Canada’s fastest-growing and most unique investment management organizations. Skyline manages three private Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), each specializing in a distinct real estate asset class: Apartment, Retail and Commercial.
Skyline is one of Canada’s best entrepreneurial success stories. With unique and highly marketable REIT products, as well as a strong connection to the REITs through 100% in-house property and asset management, Skyline offers a comprehensive business model with a team that has an extensive knowledge of its products.
The company’s humble beginnings originated in the basement of a student rental house purchased by brothers Jason and Martin Castellan, who were students at the University of Guelph at the time. They rented out each of the house’s rooms to fellow students, and, within a short time, began to purchase additional rental properties with their earnings. When their friend Roy Jason Ashdown joined the team, the trio quickly amassed 52 individual properties across the city of Guelph. They formally incorporated Skyline in 1999.
The Skyline Group now acquires properties across Canada, and, true to its roots, fully manages the properties in-house, ensuring that its residential and commercial tenants are proud to live and work in Skyline buildings. Each of these properties belongs to one of Skyline’s private REIT portfolios, which are offered to investors as unique and solid alternative investment products. Each portfolio offers something different to Skyline’s clients – and the demand from interested investors is ever-growing. In 2015, Skyline raised a remarkable $198 million in equity from individual investors across its three REIT portfolios.
With the current shift in the Canadian real estate market, Skyline has been consistent in providing remarkable investment opportunities for investors who are looking for an alternative from the volatility of the public markets. Since Skyline is not directly exposed to the fluctuations of the marketplace, its unit (share) value remains strong and stable.
“Generally, we look at our unit price annually, and we do our evaluations annually,” says Jason Castellan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Skyline Group of Companies. “For investors, the fact that [our REITs] are private and stable sets them apart.”
While real estate is where Skyline is rooted, it is evolving to be a full-service wealth and property management business operations company.
“We now have a national footprint across Canada, and as we continue to broaden that footprint, we are aware of possibilities beyond Canadian borders in the future,” says Castellan. “Additionally, we have recently enhanced our capabilities in our wealth management division, so that we can take care of our investors with a more comprehensive wealth management approach, while continuing to provide the opportunity to access alternative products such as our three REITS.”
With unique and highly marketable products, the Skyline Apartment REIT and the Skyline Commercial REIT, and SWMI’s connection to the REITs via shared management teams and a unique comprehensive business model, SWMI has intimate knowledge of its products. This connection and engagement to its offering provides SWMI and its investors with an exclusive advantage — true insight and transparency, not to mention ultimate awareness of the investment. Skyline Wealth Management’s mandate is simple — to provide an unmatched investor experience through educating, engaging and informing its investors. SWMI aims to better serve its investors by creating a direct link between the investment experience, and the actual investment by providing direct access to the management team behind the REITs.
Besides the transparency that the relationship between the EMD and the REITs provides to investors, it also creates a valuable alignment of interests between the investors, the EMD, and the REITs.
As an EMD, SWMI must fulfill its compliance requirements and responsibilities as a registrant and, at the end of the day, regardless of how well the EMD knows its products, it serves each existing and prospective investor by ensuring the nature of the investment is aligned with the investor’s personal situation.
Other notable developments for Skyline include last year’s milestone acquisition of a 23-property portfolio of apartments in the Windsor, ON area, making Skyline the biggest landlord in the city. However, Skyline’s specialty is not landmark transactions such as the recent Windsor purchase, but rather “focusing on one property at a time,” according to Castellan. “We look for the hidden gems, and amalgamate them all into the portfolio, where there is value as a bigger and more efficient entity.”
As it continues to grow, Skyline is offered opportunities to buy across every province in Canada.“When vendors decide to sell, we want to be their number one option,” says Castellan. “The vendors know that we will have the equity available to get the deal closed.”
The Skyline Group’s success is partially credited to the holistic business model that allows it to promote and manage all aspects of the business in-house, including lease management, property management and investor relations. Every aspect of the business is managed with precision, from consulting with investors to encouraging a sense of community at each of Skyline’s properties.
“Since we started as a company, we have always applied a holistic approach,” says Castellan.“Simply bouncing ideas off of each other (from one part of the company to another) continues in our company today as a key component of our success.”
The company’s interdependent approach ensures that the interests of each department are consistently aligned with the goal of providing both exceptional services to residential and commercial tenants, and stable returns to investors.
Another vital factor attributed to the company’s success is its people: today, Skyline has over 600 employees across Canada, and is continuing to expand quickly. “Jobs that were once shared have become so big that they are now specialized,” says Castellan. “People can now very specifically pick and choose their paths at Skyline, and really make the best of their abilities and talents.”
With its headquarters in Guelph, ON, Skyline has its commercial management team located in Richmond Hill, ON, and also has satellite offices in Ottawa and London, ON to manage those respective regions. Castellan credits the dedication of the Skyline team for the continual positive direction of the company.
“We have been able to attract a lot of incredible talent to the company,” he says. “Our staff has the same entrepreneurial spirit as we do; allowing them free reigns to run with it has allowed us to do great things for our investors, staff and tenants.”
Skyline believes that in order for its properties to be successful, it must be engaged with the communities in which the properties are located.
“We believe that the communities we serve are the backbone of our success, and giving back is part of our core purpose,” says Castellan. Skyline’s robust community outreach program entails everything from paid staff volunteer days and food drives to a university scholarship program. In the past few years, Skyline has been recognized time and time again for its role in building strong communities across Canada through charitable initiatives and volunteer work (in addition to the awards the company has won for its outstanding business operations).
“We appreciate the acknowledgment [that comes with these awards], but also accept it as a challenge to stay on top of our game,” says Castellan. “We know that there is always potential to be even better.”
For more information: www.skylineonline.ca