One hundred and forty years and two blocks away from the newly renovated offices of Coldwell Banker Electric Realty, Brokerage in Peterborough, Ontario, the first electric streetlights in Canada were lit.
Brilliantly, Ian Marshall has channeled that piece of history into the name of his new real estate brokerage: Coldwell Banker Electric Realty.
“Peterborough is commonly referred to as Electric City and I wanted to make sure that the brokerage from day one was deeply rooted in the local feel of our city,” said Marshall.
“We knew immediately that the real estate brokerage that will serve this community was going to be called Electric.”
Location, location, vocation
Marshall recalled the day 12 years ago when a switch went off and his future in real estate came into view. He was selling his house nearby and was in the market for a new one. The process—the details, the dreams—grabbed his attention.
“It was so intriguing to watch the agent I was working with at the time do his job —all the stuff behind the scenes, the paperwork, the conversations, the staging of the house,” Marshall said.
“I already enjoyed watching real estate shows on HGTV,” he said. “So, when I got to experience it myself on the client side, I said to myself, I can definitely do this!”
That inner voice that said “I can do this” has been a faithful navigator in Marshall’s life. It has reassured him that dropping out of high school was a beginning and not just an ending.
“High school was difficult for me, and I knew to survive I needed to blaze my own trail,” he said. “Leaving high school early is certainly not a path for everybody because you have to work incredibly hard to overcome the difficulties that come without that diploma, but I’ve been able to make it. Life has been my teacher.”
That inner voice has expected things of him.
“Leaving school at age 15, means a person grows up overnight,” Marshall said. “You instantly have to become an adult, get to work and figure out how life works.”
That voice has told him to keep going.
“I worked overnights in fast food straight out of high school,” he said. “I’ve done sales, telemarketing, network marketing, sold door-to-door. I’ve done over-the-phone tech support, worked in search engine optimization, supported executives, managed commercial properties and started a commercial and residential cleaning company.”
That voice has taught him to see people in everything he did.
“In my opinion, the backbone to any sales relationship is understanding people and understanding what they really need and what they really want,” Marshall said.
“That means understanding, especially in our line of work, that purchases made today have the potential to impact the course of one’s life in a great way. To be a small part of that journey is amazing.”
And that voice has reminded him to trust himself.
“I never say good luck. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in hard work. I believe that everybody has the same opportunities. We all get the same 24 hours in a day, it’s what we do with that time that makes us ‘lucky.’”
The road home to Coldwell Banker
In 2014, it was time for real estate for Ian Marshall.
Marshall studied for and got his license and then joined a boutique brokerage. He quickly realized he needed the training and support offered by a brand.
He joined a family-owned RE/MAX brokerage, found a mentor, thrived and loved it there until it was swallowed up by a “conglomerate-type brokerage.”
The feeling of the place changed almost overnight, he said. It was a good time for a change. He spent a few years trying to find a brokerage that felt like home.
He was convinced he could build a brokerage where agents received real value for the real contributions they made.
Reciprocal value at Coldwell Banker
“There are definitely some brokerages that do an amazing job providing value to their people, but there are many brokerages where agents get to the point that they’re seeing expenses off their commissions cheques and they find themselves asking, ‘What is this brokerage providing me that equates to this expense? What’s the value for both of us?’” he said.
Those questions led Marshall to investigate franchising options. At first, Coldwell Banker Canada wasn’t on his radar. Then, he said, he saw all the good things happening with the company, including the master franchise being acquired and its connection to Coldwell Banker’s global branding. Marshall went for lunch with Paul Abbott.
He shared his vision. It was, he quickly learned, a shared vision.
“He was just a fantastic guy to deal with and extremely generous,” said Marshall of Abbott, Coldwell Banker Canada’s Vice President, Franchise Development, in Ontario.
“He talked about the great things Coldwell Banker Canada is doing to provide value to their both their agents and their Broker-Owners, shared key parts of the franchise agreement that clicked perfectly and showed us the amazing branding and marketing materials Coldwell Banker offers. We left that meeting realizing just how much sense it made to partner with Coldwell Banker.”
Value for agents
Marshall came away convinced that his dream of a brokerage built on reciprocal value could be made real at Coldwell Banker.
“That is going to be part of Coldwell Banker Electric,” Marshall said.
“Every dollar our agents pay us, we want our agents to feel that dollar reciprocated. We want our agents to feel that this is a place where they are getting what they pay for and to never question whether their relationship with us is valuable or not—because it always will be.”
For Abbott, the stage is now set for Marshall’s innate leadership skills to do what innate leadership skills do: attract talented agents.
“With Ian Marshall at the wheel, Coldwell Banker has added to our team another sharp, experienced, passionate leader who understands real estate and understands people,” said Abbott. “The future is bright for Coldwell Banker Electric.”
Coldwell Banker Electric will open the doors to its newly renovated 6,000 square-foot headquarters on historic George Street in late January 2024.
“It’s a great location,” Marshall said.
“There’s tons of foot traffic and a lot of history with our building. For many years, the building was known for being the home to Copperfields Restaurant & Bar and then to The Protectors Group. Before that it wore several hats but was originally built as a Loblaws in the early 1950s, it then burned down, and was rebuilt. Like me, it’s done a lot of work.”
Marshall said he’s ready for the good work ahead.
“We are going to hit the ground running with our recruiting efforts to attract the best of best agents here in Peterborough,” he said.
Who has the makings of a Coldwell Banker Electric agent?
“We want our culture to be that of productive agents,” Marshall said. “We’re looking for people who aren’t afraid of hard work and are eager to learn and grow. Maybe they haven’t had a ton of success where they are. Maybe they are new, maybe they’re in a slump. Maybe they are just looking for a change. But the makings of our agents will be that they’re hungry and humble and good people who realize everybody has their own story to tell.”
Marshall said the real estate market in Peterborough has always been strong and that the prospect of relief on interest rates suggests good things ahead in 2024.
“I am so excited to bring Coldwell Banker Electric to Peterborough and start sharing our vision and our passion with the agents, the great agents of Peterborough, and show them why Coldwell Banker Electric is the brokerage to partner with here in town.”