Building dreams for 30 years

By Rajitha Sivakumaran


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`Bâtir un rêve’ is French for building a dream. It is the motto of the Montreal-based real estate developer, Groupe Magri, a family-owned enterprise that literally transforms dreams into reality. The company has been in existence for over three decades, originally built up by the parents of the three current partners — Tony Magri, Joseph Magri and Ignazio Magri. But despite the longevity of the business, around 15 years ago the company descended into a virtually stagnant position.

The descent, however, was short-lived with the younger Magris at the helm. This trio decided to take the company in a different direction — a business model that would one day add a dash of prominence to the Magri name. The company is now renowned for building condominiums with integrated commercial space. “That is our constant mission,” Ignazio Magri said. Though they started off with a very modest gross revenue point of $1 million; today their biggest projects generate over $45 million.

How did the Magris manage to revive what their parents had started? Magri said that they did so merely by listening to their clients and to the community. Innovative thinking certainly helped too. “We’ve visited trade shows all over the world and we tried to take interesting things from everywhere and tried to bring them here and cater to our local clientele,” Magri added.

Even before this spur of innovation, the company had a solid foundation in Montreal. The new approach simply added a little bit of flavour to an already classic recipe. Many developers offer clients a restricted number of choices because they want to standardize their buildings. Groupe Magri, on the other hand, offers a flexibility so enticing that it drives clients to their office. “We realize that we are building your dream home and we want you to personalize it as much as you possibly can,” Magri said.

The company’s goal is to provide the best available product for consumers at an affordable price without ever sacrificing anything in terms of quality and comfort, and the motto is something the three partners take very seriously. Whether a client spends a modest amount or millions of dollars for a home, it’s all the same to Groupe Magri. “We realized that the ‘building a dream’ motto is a dream whether you’re spending $190,000 or $1 million. It’s everyone’s life savings and in most cases, they only do it once or twice, so we recognize that and we keep that at the forefront of our company’s purpose,” Magri said.

Integration, innovation and recognition
Compared to other developers whose focus tends to centre on aggressive promotion, Groupe Magri conducts itself quite differently. The three partners of the company are extremely integrated and involved in each project the firm pursues. Each person has his own department, which he oversees from start to finish this is what the company is renowned for. Tony Magri is the numbers guy; he oversees everything from accounting to the engineers, the land surveyors and the architects. Joseph Magri specializes in the entrepreneurial aspect of things and superintends sales. Ignazio Magri’s department deals directly with the consumers. His job is to make sure that all of the clients’ needs are met.

“We guide you throughout the whole process from the moment you step inside our sales office to the day we hand you your keys. That’s what the people in our community know us for,” Joseph Magri said.

In fact, the Magri name alongside some simple marketing strategies is enough to bring clients in. “We don’t spend a ton of money on advertising. Our marketing strategy is always location, location, location. We look for the best areas in the best part of the city,” Tony Magri said.

So far, the firm has contributed a number of noteworthy projects to Montreal’s urban landscape and many of these buildings have either been recognized by Qualité Habitation as a winner or finalist of the Project of the Year award. One example is the four-storey Carreé Duvernay, a luxury condominium styled in a converging contemporary and classic look — it was the winner of the Project of the Year award in 2012. Other projects have scored recognition for location. The Cathédrale project consists of two buildings that sit in the midst of infrastructure like schools, clinics, public transportation and shops, simplifying the lives of its residents.

Presently, Groupe Magri is working on its latest project, the Faubourg Jarry, a 14-storey building with 145,000 square feet of total livable area and individual units as large as 1,465 square feet. The commercial space beneath it measures 40,000 square feet. In this building, everyone gets the same features regardless of the capital invested, Magri said, adding that there is a standard of inclusion that does not change from apartment to apartment such as a fireplace, air conditioning and high-end European kitchen cabinets. The building itself broadcasts an artsy façade, catering to a modern clientele with a look that is both contemporary and traditional. It was recognized as the Project of the Year in 2015 by Qualité Habitation.

But behind the success, there are challenges, with one of them being difficult economic times. Despite this, the firm employs over 120 people at any given time during the construction of a project. As a matter of fact, Groupe Magri named continual innovation as the most taxing part of the real estate industry. Staying at the forefront of everything that is new and utilizing the latest technology to appeal to a consumer market that is always changing these deep-rooted problems plague many sectors of commerce, but for real estate developers, there are a few ways to stay innovative and compete in the market. Groupe Magri, for instance, offers free Wi-Fi in its buildings.

Designing a building that caters to the needs of all those who call it home is another challenge. Wi-Fi service will appease youth, but the elderly may desire an easily accessible community room within the building for afternoon tea. Balancing these needs is a specialty of Groupe Magri, a talent that cyclically fuels the company’s growth. This in turn allows the firm to foster a relationship with not just its clients but the entire community through contributions to medical research and sports teams.

“We always believed that the more success that we have, the more we should be entailed to give back to the community,” Tony Magri said.