Live from the hive, it’s the weekly Buzz Talk! In this edition, we buzz with Ashley Bauman, VP of Strategy and Results at Beyond the Buildings Ltd.Based out of BC, Ashley has been deeply involved in the development industry for 12 years and has worked closely with developers in a leadership capacity on more than 60 projects in 14 countries.

Lacking a strategic vision? Stuck on a marketing strategy? Ashley can help with that! Her past positions include Director of Business Innovation for Playground/Intrawest and Project Director for Starwood Capital Group. She was also the keynote speaker at the FortisBC Energy Solutions conference only a few weeks ago.

So join us for a chat about marketing alternative energy, the Vancouver housing market, and why Vancouverites don’t care what the Economist has to say about them. Enjoy!

BuzzBuzzHome: How did you get your start in the industry?

 

Ashley Bauman: I’m actually from Toronto. I graduated from business school out in Western at Richard Ivey, but I’ve always loved Vancouver. My family used to come out here for holidays and my mother was originally from here. I followed my love for skiing and did my job search very geographically. I started as an eCommerce Manager with Intrawest and my career developed from there. I’ve been in the development industry for 12 years now.

BBH: Tell us a bit about what you do at Beyond the Buildings.

AB: It’s pretty much my own consulting company and I work full time with developers to help them look at pieces of land they have and see what we can do with those projects — who are the target markets for them, what is the market telling us, how can we optimize them? Then I help them develop results oriented sales and marketing strategies and lead the execution of them.

BBH:
Two weeks back you gave a keynote address at the FortisBC conference. Why is that an important conference? What did you use your time at the podium to speak about?

AB: Basically they asked me to speak on how to create better customer driven product and market it effectively. The general premise of my speech was we spend a lot of time creating projects, but we don’t spend a lot of time looking at how we communicate the different elements of those projects — in this case, naturally we focused on alternative energy. It’s obviously a big topic of conversation.

I feel the development community can improve how they position alternative energy to prospective purchasers. Like everything we include in our projects, it is a selling feature and we need to ensure it helps us achieve the vision that we have for the development and provides value to our end consumer.

I talked about my experience doing that and how it’s been successful for us in driving sales.

BBH: Tsawwassen Springs is one project you’re involved with at the moment. What’s unique about this development?

AB: What isn’t unique about it? It’s a very different project for the Lower Mainland. Our tagline is “A Whole New Kind of Community” and we’re delivering on that. It’s a fully ammenitized, 136 acre brilliantly master planned community. Our architecture is something very special and different and our floor plans are extremely optimized and liveable.
There is going to be an outdoor ice rink on-site, despite Tsawwassen having the best weather in the Lower Mainland. Definitely very unique!

BBH: There are a few celebs associated with Tsawwassen Springs. Why is it such a hit with Canadian celebrities?

AB: It’s a very special project with an incredible vision and a creditable team behind it.  People believe in the project and want to be part of it.  It’s very proud project for Tsawwassen, the Lower Mainland, BC, and Canada.

BBH: We have to ask! What’s your opinion on the Vancouver housing market? Will prices drop significantly or are they right on the money?

AB: It’s definitely a hard question. Vancouver’s landlocked. We have the ocean, mountains, rivers, ARL land, density restrictions, plus it’s an extremely desirable place to live. It’s going to require premium price points and we have a lot of international investment that’s keeping it up there.

There’s been evidence that international investment is slightly slowing down, but I think, if anything, we’re still seeing great sales with those premium price clients and the average Vancouver buyer is a very educated real estate buyer.

I don’t think we’ll see a significant drop in prices, but I do think developers are going to have to focus on ensuring they’re offering great value for the price and are really focused on what customers want, whether they be end users or investor buyers.

I also think that in Burnaby and Richmond — two of the closest suburbs to Vancouver — the price/absorption has been really high. But we do see more normalized markets the farther we go out, like in Surrey or Langley.

BBH: What’s your favourite thing about living in Vancouver?

AB: Mountains and the ocean! I really do miss my family and friends in Toronto, but I love the beauty and lifestyle here. Also, you don’t have to shovel the rain! Snow belongs on a mountain, not on a road.

BBH: Last month Vancouver was bumped from number 1 to number 3 on the Economist’s world’s most liveable cities ranking. Was that a big news story in Vancouver or did people just shrug it off?

AB: That’s a great question. I think it was mainly shrugged off because the rationale for us dropping so much was an infrastructure issue in the Malahat Highway which is on the Island and not even connected to the mainland. I think people shrugged it off for that reason. They didn’t see why that would effect our city’s livability when it’s actually closer to Victoria.

If our livability is going to drop then there’s other reasons we need to be looking at, but in general it was mostly shrugged off here.

BBH: What was the best moment of summer 2011 for you?

AB: Being with my family at our cottage in Ontario, hands down.

Thanks Ashley for taking the time to buzz with us!

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