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Marlin Spring – Success Built on Culture

HERO  Marlin Spring
Marlin Spring is a Toronto-based real estate company focused on developing low-, mid- and high-rise buildings in Ontario and acquiring and repositioning multifamily properties across North America. Founded in 2013, the company has approximately $4 billion of completed and under-development projects and boasts a portfolio comprising over eight million square feet of residential gross floor area (GFA) spread amongst over 35 individual projects. In September, the firm snagged the 26th spot (among 400) on The Globe and Mail Report on Business’ second annual “Canada’s Top Growing Companies” list. In October, it ranked 1st (among 415) on Canadian Business’ 2020 Growth List, which evaluates the fastest-growing companies based on revenue growth over the last five years. 

Upon receiving congratulations and well-wishes on Marlin Spring being named Canada’s Top Growing Company in 2020, CEO Benjamin Bakst has been appreciative, gracious – and quick to attribute the firm’s success to its people – their expertise, commitment and entrepreneurship, and their embodiment of Marlin Spring’s values: collaboration, agility, respect, excellence and sincerity, or as they know it, Marlin Spring CARES.

Pride and joy are visible on Bakst’s face when he says, “Here, we rely on and intensely collaborate with one another. There’s real trust, and this is a key differentiator of ours.”

A Different Approach to Real Estate

Along with its people and culture, Marlin Spring’s approach to the real estate it builds and acquires sets it apart within the industry. “Our ultimate goal is to provide exceptional value to all our stakeholders, which includes our team, partners, financers, consumers, suppliers and communities – with an uncompromised adherence to our core values,” shares Bakst.

Jeremiah Shamess, a Vice President with Colliers International’s Private Capital Group who has completed over $55 million of transactions with Marlin Spring, has the same outlook and aim. Shamess speaks highly of Bakst and believes their shared perspective and values is the reason why they have formed a long-standing relationship. “I always want to provide the best service possible to my clients, and it’s always a pleasure working with Ben and his team. I hope to do more work with them in the future,” he says. Regarding Bakst’s business perspective, Shamess notes, “Ben’s approach to business is always refreshing and original. I believe it’s why Marlin Spring has had such incredible growth and success.”

True to its mandate and objective, Marlin Spring develops residential properties that are located in burgeoning neighbourhoods requiring more residential options, are within transit hubs, are close to essential amenities and offer access to considerable green space – In doing so, the company delivers premier, accessible living spaces, while preserving the distinct character of the communities in which it builds.

With regards to its multifamily division, Marlin Spring strategically invests in multi-residential properties located in metropolitan areas across North America, with a view to identify and realize the potential of undervalued assets. With this strategy, the company strives to provide cash flow accompanied by a value-add approach, a great example of value creation for the residents, providing a more enjoyable living experience, as well as the investors – a classic win-win approach Bakst speaks of often.

According to Bakst, a key contributor to succeeding in the industry is "looking to where you think trends will continue and knowing different markets, asset classes and build forms; doing so provides the unique tools to then be able to identify where the value is and where it’s headed.”

The desirability of and clamour for Marlin Spring’s condominiums and homes and the growth of its multifamily investments undoubtedly spell success for the firm – and translate to concrete value for all of the firm’s various stakeholders.

Providing Enduring Value

The value Marlin Spring delivers is poised to endure amidst challenging circumstances. With the scope and span of development projects measured in years, Bakst says while the current pandemic may impact projects for a few months due to closures, a pause in immigration and a slowdown in demand due to university closures and other factors, “the overall fundamentals and need will be there when the situation stabilizes.”

As such, according to Bakst, while the multifamily sector is “seeing less activity with less movement in the world today and people hunkering down and staying in their homes,” the situation is far from permanent.

An asset class within the residential sector that has been negatively impacted by the global crisis is senior homes, with potential occupants delaying making the decision to move in, impacting vacancies across this asset class, according to Bakst. However, similar to his view on overall development, Bakst expects the demand for senior living space to rebound.

As is the case for the downtown core. Says Bakst: “Right now, there is certainly less activity downtown. There is less drive to head there and people are staying in or heading to the suburbs – for the time being. I am confident that post-pandemic, that very same draw of city life, which was so attractive prior to the current situation, will once again bring people back and the vibrancy of the downtown core will be restored.”

Building and Sustaining Strong Teams in a Shifting Environment
Bakst recognizes the critical role another asset class will play, a role that he does not see as having been diffused in light of the global “work-from-home experiment.” On the contrary, the abrupt shift to remote working very well could have highlighted the importance of this sector.

“I see there being opportunities with-in the office space,” he says. “While there are companies that are getting out of their leases or announcing that they are permanently adopting a work-from-home structure, there are those that are retaining their office space, based on their recognition of the advantages of physically working in an office, both from a collaboration and culture standpoint.”

Indeed, one of Bakst’s biggest learnings from this pandemic has been that there is no replacement for in-person collaboration. “I’ve learned that we can survive remote-working through a crisis. But I’ve also seen that it’s a greater challenge to promote culture and bond without being physically together in the workplace. While people have said we can be equally efficient working from home, it’s not only efficiency that makes a company great; rather, it’s the ability to ‘be there’ and connect with people. If the point of work is to simply ‘get stuff done,’ we can do that. But truly, the greatest achievements, discoveries have been made possible through human interaction and collaboration.”

Naturally, Bakst ties back his perspective to Marlin Spring’s commitment to providing enduring value, pondering, “How can we create exceptional value for all of our stakeholders if we’re not around bouncing ideas off each other in real-time, without having to schedule a Zoom call?”

Bakst is quick to state that the safety and security of his team is paramount, and while working remotely is necessary during these critical times, he looks forward to safer times ahead. Bakst also is a proponent of flexibility in work arrangements, now and in the future. He understands and supports people’s concerns and needs with regards to physically being in the office, offering that they “will always have a home to come to” in the Marlin Spring offices. But just like any relationship, “While long distance relationships can work, it’s better when we’re all together,” he says.

After all, Bakst seeks to build a culture where life and work coincide and are integrated – And he has. It is evident in how Marlin Spring employees collaborate, form relationships and spend time together, both at and outside of work, enjoying genuine camaraderie that makes the work they do enjoyable.

Culture as a Foundation for Growth and Success

Marlin Spring’s distinct culture certainly factors into the company’s future plans – and greatest challenge. Asked about the biggest challenge he faces in his work, Bakst says, “It’s being able to build the team and grow the company while maintaining our unique culture.”

And looking to what’s next for the company, Bakst says, “It’s not so much about what’s next but about continuing what we have been doing and building on what we have accomplished. We will continue to grow in a sustained, responsible way, maintaining our culture and relying on the core values of our company to get us there.”

And “there” is Marlin Spring’s vision to be recognized as one of the most trusted commercial real estate firms globally.

Based on the performance of its projects, the expertise and dedication of its people, and the accolades it continually receives, Marlin Spring can confidently say, Vision Accomplished.


For More Information, Please Contact:

Jeremiah Shamess

Senior Vice President, Sales Representative | Private Capital Investment Group

Toronto Downtown

Jeremiah Shamess  founder of the  Colliers Private Capital Investment Group, a team of  6 professionals specializing in the sale of development land  and buildings in the  GTA and GGH.  Jeremiah has a proven track record of executing for his  clients and maximizing the value of their commercial real estate.  A consistent closer (81.3% of deals first  contracted successfully close) and creative deal maker.

The Private Capital Investment Group is the top team in Ontario for  Middle-Market Investment Sales. Some  noteworthy clients include  TAS, Canadian Tire, Silver Hotel Group, Marlin Spring Development, One Properties (AIMCO), Tricon and Greybrook, among others. 

In 2021,  ranked #1 Investment Advisor in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as Top 20 in the country. 

In 2018, Jeremiah was ranked in Colliers’ "Top 6 under 6,” recognizing him as one of the top real estate sales professionals in the country with less than six years tenure at Colliers, the largest commercial real estate firm in Canada by number of brokers. In 2019 and 2020, Jeremiah was recognized in the top 10%, and 15% respectively for Colliers, the top 0.2% and 0.5% respectively  for Toronto Regional Real Estate Board. 

His experience with a vast array of building sales, redevelopment properties, and land dispositions allows Jeremiah to maximize value, mitigate risk and increase the probability of successful sales. His team increases value from unsolicited offers through their proven disposition process that protects land and building owners. 

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