By Tony Palermo
In resigning as executive vice-president, regional director of Re/Max Integra’s Ontario-Atlantic Region to become a managing partner in Re/Max Hallmark Realty Group, Gurinder Sandhu says while he “loved every minute” of his time at Re/Max Integra, it was just time to move on.
“I was thinking about how I turn half-a-century next April and two realizations hit me as I reflected on that,” says the 49-year-old Sandhu.
The first was thinking about what he wants for the next part of his life. Sandhu says while he loved his position as EVP, he didn’t know if it was a passion he could carry to the future. Working at what he calls the “30,000-foot level”, he missed having a more hands-on role at the brokerage level.
The other realization was that some of his greatest inspirations came from observing and working with real estate professionals who are successful businesspeople. For many of them, real estate is a second career. He thought about his own years as a Realtor and how, growing up, he saw his own Realtor father get up every morning and give it his all to support his family and put food on the table.
Sandhu says through his increasingly senior positions and exposure to different industries – as a real estate professional working with his dad at Sandhu Realty, a chartered accountant/auditor with KPMG and Torstar Corporation, director and then vice-president of finance with Royal LePage, before becoming chief financial officer and later EVP with Re/Max Integra – he was fortunate to have met and learned from some of the biggest industry titans. As he reflected on everything and connected the dots, that’s when realized what he wanted to do in the next part of his life.
“I’ve amassed quite a bit of business knowledge over the years and realized that I’m in a unique position to help other Realtors take their business to the next level – that I truly wanted to help other Realtors get to that next level,” says Sandhu. “It really was like an awakening when it hit me.”
In describing the change as “moving from the C-Suite to the street”, Sandhu says he has always had a “love affair” with owners Ken McLachlan, Debra Bain and Steve Tabrizi of Re/Max Hallmark. He says he has always been impressed with their culture, leadership styles and the sense of community, collaboration and learning they foster in their business.
When they discussed partnering, everyone felt Sandhu would be the perfect fit.
“I’ve known Gurinder for years,” says McLachlan. “He’s well respected in the industry, a natural leader and a service-oriented quality human being who, quite honestly, was made for Re/Max Hallmark.”
McLachlan says while Sandhu’s role is evolving, he will be working primarily with Bain to help grow the Hallmark brand and take the business, and its individual salespeople, to the next level.
Re/Max Hallmark is already the largest Re/Max brokerage in Canada, consisting of 15 offices and around 1,000 agents who serve the Greater Toronto Area, the Muskokas and Ottawa.
Re/Max Integra president and co-founder Walter Schneider says Sandhu was a great ambassador and cheerleader for Re/Max Integra.
“He’s a great guy and will be missed,” says Schneider, adding that it’s natural for people to move on, especially those like Sandhu who are “entrepreneurial and very smart.
And, you can’t coach smart,” says Schneider.
While Sandhu’s departure leaves a temporary void at Re/Max Integra, Schneider says there is no rush to replace him.
“We’re going to take our time to find the right fit,” says Schneider. “As a co-founder, I’m still very active in the company. There aren’t many corners in this building that I’m not familiar with.”
In 2010, Sandhu became Re/Max Integra’s chief financial officer and less than two years later, replaced Michael Polzler as EVP, regional director Ontario-Atlantic Region (Polzer moved on to become managing director of Re/Max Europe.) At the time he was promoted to EVP, Sandhu became the first non-family member in the company’s 32-year-history to hold such a senior leadership role.