Great Leadership: the ‘Hallmark’ of a Top Office

Teamwork, vision and generosity contribute to high agent success at the largest RE/MAX brokerage in Canada

By Tony Palermo

RE/MAX Hallmark Realty was already one of the largest brokerages in Canada. Then, in April, Broker/Owners Ken McLachlan, Debra Bain and Steve Tabrizi, as well as Broker/Manager Barbara Brindle, welcomed Ottawa’s biggest Keller Williams brokerage to the team.

The move makes the newly formed RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group the largest RE/MAX brokerage in Canada, consisting of about 1,100 agents who serve the Greater Toronto Area, Muskokas and Ottawa.

“Ken, Debra and Steve always have their eye on the future,” says Effi Barak, COO, RE/MAX INTEGRA. “And because they’re able to look ahead, their Associates are able to get ahead. We’re excited for RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group and the growth this conversion means for the greater Ottawa network.”

Margie and Jeff Hooper, who together owned and operated that former Keller Williams brokerage, will continue as partners to lead the Ottawa offices they started in 2001. They say they were drawn to RE/MAX for many reasons, especially the brand’s power and visibility. The opportunity for their agents’ personal and career growth at RE/MAX was certainly too big to ignore, but seeing the tremendous leadership the RE/MAX Hallmark team provided was the impetus they needed to officially join.

“Margie and I are excited about adding Debra, Ken and Steve’s leadership strength to ours,” Jeff Hooper says. “They each bring something different to the table and, combined with our existing leadership in Ottawa, our company is going to be that much stronger. Our No. 1 priority has always been our agents and we believe the move to RE/MAX really benefits them.”

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Steve Tabrizi

What also appealed to the Hoopers about RE/MAX Hallmark Realty was its business philosophy, which matched the values that Jeff and Margie built their successful real estate business on. Those values are to strive for great achievement in business and give back generously to the community.

“Coincidentally, Margie and I were business acquaintances with Ken. He was a speaker at several broker events we attended, and we would often seek him out to ask questions,” Hooper says. “Ken was always very gracious to share information and ideas. Little did we know that we would someday be business partners.

“We’re of a similar nature so that’s why, even though we came from different brands, we’re definitely a cultural fit. It comes down to an attitude of sharing in abundance.”

Broker/Owner Ken McLachlan, a 2012 RE/MAX Distinguished Service Award recipient along with Debra Bain, is quick to redirect any praise and says the success of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty truly is a team effort. Each of the management team members plays a core role and brings something different to the table, he says. They all set the example and promote the core values and philosophy that every member of the Hallmark Realty team lives by and practices every day.

“Our team truly is committed, caring and focused on building agents’ business,” McLachlan says. “Anyone can reach us on our cell phones. We’re really hands-on that way.”

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Debra Bain


Standing by agents

Fatima Bregman, who has spent the past five of her 17 years as a Sales Associate with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty, agrees.

“This might sound really sentimental, but I consider the leadership team and brokers part of my family,” Bregman says. “They really stand by their agents.”

She’s seen it time and again: When a RE/MAX Hallmark Realty agent is going through a difficult time, the management team is there to help. It’s a devotion she feels is rare among other brokers, who tend to direct their focus to top producers.

Sales Associate Ravi Singh has experienced this incredible support firsthand.

“In the past year, the birth of my son, my fight with cancer and the challenges of becoming a mentor myself have all come up,” Singh says. “I’ve never felt alone. I know they have my back every step of the way.

“After all, that’s what family does.”

This might sound really sentimental, but I consider the leadership team and brokers part of my family. They really stand by their agents.Fatima Bregman

A strong identity

McLachlan says there are three core values that set RE/MAX Hallmark Realty apart from other outside companies.

First, the brokerage’s leaders pour their efforts into strengthening the careers of their agents. Last year, RE/MAX Hallmark Realty had 14 of the Top 100 agents in Canada.

“Everything is based on ‘We want you to be better,’” McLachlan says. “You choose what you want to be, and we’ll help you get there. We’re truly in the business of building agents’ businesses.”

Coaching programs, training classes and other services complement the company’s goal of making every RE/MAX Hallmark Realty agent the best they can be.

Team Leader Claudine Montano comes from a family of Realtors and has been a Realtor herself since 2007. She’s proof that the RE/MAX Hallmark Realty system works. Since moving to RE/MAX Hallmark Realty just over two years ago, she’s doubled her business.

“I’m really happy I made the switch,” Montano says. “Plugging in to the invaluable network of the most productive agents in the country has really made a difference in my team’s careers.”

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Ken McLachlan

Sharing their gifts

Being active in the community and giving back is the second company value that drives everyone at RE/MAX Hallmark Realty. Broker/Owner Debra Bain says RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Associates support Children’s Miracle Network and have donated more than $1.6 million to Toronto’s SickKids Hospital. The brokerage has also spearheaded a number of other community initiatives to help pay it forward. Bain points to a breakfast program that helps promote better learning for underprivileged children.

“Our agents go there in the morning to help feed the children, and they donate money too,” Bain says. “It’s been a huge success. The Toronto Real Estate Board has now taken it on, and other companies are involved. It’s very exciting to do something that helps children across the city.”

McLachlan says the brokerage and its Associates don’t take their prosperity for granted.

“We have enough resources, we have enough manpower and we have enough creativity to make a difference in this world,” he says, adding that he feels fortunate and privileged RE/MAX Hallmark Realty is able to contribute close to $350,000 annually to local, national and international causes to help people in need.

When no one’s watching

RE/MAX Hallmark Realty also exemplifies a third value: working as guardians of the real estate industry. McLachlan says every member of the team embraces their motto, “Raising the bar.” The expectation is that everyone best represents their clients, the communities they serve and themselves by always doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

“We don’t consider ourselves to be just working in the real estate industry,” says McLachlan. “We’re leaders.”

“Our team truly is committed, caring and focused on building agents’ business,” McLachlan says. “Anyone can reach us on our cell phones. We’re really hands-on that way.”Ken McLachlan

Joy Verde, who’s been a Sales Associate with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty for 20 years, agrees.

“The leadership team researches and implements the best systems before all of our competition,” Verde says. “They’re innovators and excel in every aspect.”

McLachlan says his immediate focus is on putting the systems in place to support the new team members in Ottawa. He says opportunities like the recent merger will come up again and when they do, his team will be ready.

“We’ll be keeping our eyes open for them, and, if one makes sense, we’ll pursue it,” says McLachlan. “You just never know.”

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3 comments

Ken and Debbie – you are great support. Written very well – I feel Hallmark is making a difference – the support offered is so appreciated – and I feel a real splurge of energy which really makes me feel good about myself – I am back on board

These are truly amazing people! I can’t say enough about their generosity and dedication to all the people’s lives that they touch.

Wow! I remember 19 agents on the Danforth beside the Beer store in the early 80s. What a tremendous success. Who knew? Congratulations!!

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