October 6th, 2010
 
This week on Buzz Talk we have a chat with President of Access Capital Corp. Rob McLeese, the financing team behind the new developments at Cobble Beach in Kemble, Ontario.
 
Our very own Matthew Slutsky had the lucky opportunity to visit Cobble Beach recently and wrote about the project here.
 
Now, over to Buzz Talk….
 
What’s your golf handicap?
 
22. When we opened Cobble Beach it was 23, it promptly deteriorated to 25 and this year it’s gone from 25 to 22 so I’m actually pleased. I’m on the right track finally.
 
What are the challenges of building a community around a golf course?
 
Well in this particular place it was the fact that we were starting from a greenfield site. It was an area that had no previous significant volume of weekender traffic and so that was the major impediment so the golf course was really significant and had to be world class to garner the attention to get people interested.
 
From there, essentially, building the community is getting people comfortable – ‘I want to live around a golf course’. ‘I want to be 2 hours from Pearson.’ ‘I want to be in a place that’s a little bit out of the way but still relatively close to amenities and natural attractions.’
 
A lot of people weren’t used to Bruce for that type of activity. Everyone in Southern Ontario orients towards the Muskokas, Halifax, Collingwood. etc so this was a whole new genre to get people to go up to Bruce.
 
Describe a typical day at work for you.
 
Start out by checking emails, then review status of our US ops, then look at planning issues relating to the development, review emails again, review budgets, deal with day to day issues, then do administration and then check emails again.
 
Then if I’m not done for the day, go to the top of the list and start again. It’s pretty standard except that as you know, every day is different.
 
The Residences at Cobble Beach are all ENERGYSTAR certified – how important was it for you that the project get this certificate?
 
To be fair, getting the certificate itself isn’t nearly as important as the whole direction of the development – to be environmentally sensitive, conscious and sustainable. And if you’ve noticed the different things we’ve done in the development – the clubhouse is Geo-thermally heated, the golf course uses one third the water, one third the herbicide and one third the pesticide of a normal golf course.
 
That kind of thinking pervades the whole way we develop the property so the ENERGYSTAR certificate is good but that’s something we would have expected with the builders that we’re working with.
 
For example, when you look at the way the course was built, only 3 big trees were cut down when building it and when you look at golf course construction and the fact that it covers 166 acres it tells you two things:
 
1. there weren’t a lot of trees on the property to begin with; and,
2. we try to preserve any of the major tress as best as we possibly can because that’s an important contribution to the whole viability of the site.
 
Who are the builders at Cobble Beach and what sort of homes are they building?
 
Reids Heritage Homes are a very good builder out of Guelph. They’re just a very solid builder. They’re doing our production and crafts homes.
 
Northridge homes is a custom builder out of Brampton. They’re a small builder but a good builder. He’s got one 6,000 sq. ft home overlooking the 10th green that’s spectacular. It has extensive woodwork, the living room ceiling is an inverted mahogany ‘salad-bowl’. It’s absolutely spectacular.
 
We also have individual custom builders that are doing special orders.
 
Why would Cobble Beach be a good choice for someone who doesn’t play golf?
 
I’m glad you asked that question. One of the things is there’s a ton of green space – about 40% of the property. You have 3 access points to the water. There’s a beautiful marina about 6km south of us that’s really well protected. You have incredible boating around that area – the sailing is superb. You have access to cultural and athletic activities. The regional hospital is 15 minutes away (It’s funny, for people who are concerned or have any health issues, it’s great to have it so close by).
 
You’ve got the Tom Thompson Gallery, a whole bunch of restaurants….so you’ve got all of these different places that people don’t even know about because when they come into Owen Sound they’re used to coming in on one of the main highways and they don’t see the stuff that’s off the main drag.
 
The property has been in development for almost 12 years – a pretty large chunk of time – what are you going to do once it’s all finished?!
 
My dad carried it for the first 6 years and I get it for the next 20 which is OK, it’s part of the deal.
 
What am I going to do when its all finished? Keep doing what we’ve been doing for the past 25 years. I intend to do this for a along time – it’s in my genes
 
We hear that your 97 year old father (who bought the property when he was in his 80’s) still gets included in conference calls and some of your children are working there – is it safe to say that this is a family-oriented project?
 
Very much so. One of our boys is the assistant controller. One is a brand ambassador at the experience centre, and the third one helped me with development for a year and a half.
 
My wife is very actively involved also, in human relations and overall direction. Everyone has their finger in the pie – you can’t get away with anything!
 
Links Magazine recently voted Cobble Beach as one of the top 20 golf resorts in Canada – you must be very proud.
 
We’re incredibly proud. We don’t know how Links Magazine found us but we’re thrilled that they did. We’re incredibly humbled by our company – those are the cream of the crop, they’re really special places and very individual.
 
I look at those and I go, wow, that’s really cool – how did they find us? So I’m thrilled! I need to find out who the person is who included us!
 
What’s your favourite aspect of the development?
 
Watching it unfold. Each phase is different. Each aspect opens up a whole new well and it’s pretty cool watching how people get jazzed.
 
For example, about a month ago I happened to overhear a gentleman coming out of the clubhouse and he was waxing on to his buddies about how he comes here every year and each time he comes back there’s something new and it’s really cool.
 
I thought – isn’t that cool – he’s got it!
 
What’s your favourite golf themed movie?
 
Tin Cup
 
What sort of phone do you have?
 
I have a blackberry 9700. I love it. I use it for calls, email, BBM, texting, GPS. It’s such a great phone, it’s so easy to use. I had a Palm Trio and a year and a half ago my IT guy made me switch.
 
Thanks to Rob for taking the time out to talk with us. Come back next Wednesday for more Buzz Talks – same buzz time, same buzz channel!

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