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Vancouver firm plays Trump card for projects

Business Edge - Business News With an Edge 
   12 / 08 / 2006 - Vol. 6, No. 25 - Calgary/Red Deer Edition

Vancouver firm plays Trump card for projects

Major demographic shift sparked company's rise

By Monte Stewart - Business Edge
Published: 11/24/2006 - Vol. 3, No. 24

They're hired!

Vancouver-based S&P Destination Properties Inc. is looking to Trump the competition as it markets two recreational properties valued at more than $1 billion in Hawaii and Mexico. The firm is working on the projects in conjunction with New York real estate mogul Donald Trump - known for saying "You're fired!" on his TV show, The Apprentice.

Trump has lent his name to condo towers on Honolulu's Waikiki beach and the Baja peninsula in Mexico that are being developed by Los Angeles-based Irongate Wilshire LLC. Trump receives a fee for supplying his name while S&P has been contracted by Irongate as the exclusive marketer. The Hawaiian project secured 1,500 reservations from potential buyers, each who paid refundable $20,000 US deposits, and sold out within nine hours of going on sale in early November.

"(The Waikiki tower) has been transforming for our company because it is such a significant building in the world," says Peter Dupuis, the Vancouver company's president. "It is the biggest one he's done."

Renderings courtesy of Peak Communications
S&P Destinations Properties Inc. is teaming up with Donald Trump to market condo towers in Baja, Mexico

Trump Tower Waikiki buyers included legendary Hawaiian singer Don Ho and Trump's daughter Ivanka. Ho purchased two suites, while more than 20 per cent of the buyers were from Japan.

Trump is actively involved in the projects, says Dupuis, with his primary role making properties meet brand standards. The Mexican project, which has already received 620 reservations, is a few months behind the Hawaiian site.

"They've really grown to appreciate our ability to market," says Dupuis of Trump's company. "They're talking to us about other Trump opportunities. It's been good for our team. Professionally, everyone has been pushed to a new level, which is what it's all about."

The connection to Trump began last December, when Irongate contacted S&P about marketing the Waikiki project.

"Donald Trump's reputation is that he's a very fair guy," says Dupuis, offering a perspective that some Apprentice participants or viewers might dispute.

"He's very smart. He's very much an attention-to-detail person. We're working with Donald Trump, (son) Don Jr. and (daughter) Ivanka, and he's handed off a lot of the detail work to them. Don Jr. is more on the real estate development side and she's on the marketing promotion side."

Dupuis, 48, and business partner Sid Landolt, 44, S&P's CEO, have been selling real estate together for 24 years. They say the Trump projects confirm the merits of their company's relationship-based approach to marketing properties. The firm does most of its marketing by word of mouth, and has established a "board of customers" that advises it on building design, customer service and sales processes.

"Ninety per cent of the people that are going to purchase a Trump tower (unit) in Waikiki have a very early memory - whether that's as a young person or as a young adult or someone going on vacation," says Dupuis.

"They have a relationship with Waikiki or Trump.

"What we do is gather up these circles of loyalists that love that location. We've figured out how to create real estate that they really want, as opposed to what we think they want."

Renderings courtesy of Peak Communications
S&P Destinations Properties Inc. is teaming up with Donald Trump to market condo towers in on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach in Hawaii

Landolt and Dupuis launched S&P in 2004 after selling their former company, Sapera Destination Properties, to Intrawest Corp., which was acquired earlier this year in a $2.8-billion takeover by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC.

They began selling residential real estate out of Landolt's basement in New Westminster in 1982, acquired a Re/Max real estate franchise. They branched into recreational projects after demand for condos increased and Asian buyers flocked to Vancouver in preparation for the eventual repatriation of Hong Kong to China from the U.K. in 1997.

While still operating the Re/Max agency, they formed marketing company Terranomics, folded it and formed a partnership with Milborne Real Estate, operated by Vancouver realtor Hunter Milborne, which sold in excess of $1.5 billion worth of properties.

Their international sales career began after they sold condos above an IGA grocery store in the northern part of Whistler's ski village.

They sold more than 1,700 units in Whistler, earning an invitation from Intrawest to sell a development in Keystone, Colo.

"We saw changes taking place in the Vancouver market, but more importantly, we saw this major demographic shift," says Landolt. "As a result of our work at Whistler, we realized how (powerfully) this move to resort and second-home property ownership was starting to evolve.

"Our markets were softer here, so we moved our business to the United States, really, focusing on second-home resort buyers. It just so happened, at that very moment, Intrawest was doing the same thing ... So, in effect, a very convenient marriage was consummated, where they were developing (the year-round resort) and they needed a tremendous sales and marketing capacity."

S&P now has corporate offices in Vancouver, Honolulu and Bangkok. Dupuis and, Landolt, who overcame Hodgkins lymphoma (cancer that starts in the lymph nodes) last year, are hob-nobbing with celebrities and major executives around the world.

However, they haven't actually met Trump. Roxanne Loughery, S&P's senior vice-president of project marketing, liaises with him and his staff. Loughery met Trump in the spring when she and a crew interviewed and filmed him for a promotional video.

"Did he tell me I was fired? No," says Loughery. "That was a running joke (in the S&P office). Everyone was saying: 'Don't get fired.' " Trump paid S&P the "highest compliment," she says, by praising it for using his time efficiently during the 45-minute session.

Photo courtesy of S&P Destination Properties Inc.
Peter Dupuis, left, and Sid Landolt are all smiles after the S&P Destination Properties Inc. principals brought Donald Trump on board to market two recreational properties.

Although it does most of its work in the U.S., S&P has signed a letter of intent with Vancouver-based developer Marine Drive Properties Inc. to market the $600-million Jack Nicklaus golf course, hotel and condo development near Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.

And, if all goes according to plan, Dupuis and Landolt will be hearing, "You're hired!" on more projects developed by Donald Trump and others.

(Monte Stewart can be reached at monte@businessedge.ca)

Published Monday, December 11, 2006 11:34 AM by Kanoa Biondolillo


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