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Dec 16, 2020

Staffing Announcement: Brian Higgins Retires as Regional Vice-President, Qualico US

Brain Higgins stands at Qualico's regional office construction site in the USA

In his 44 years at Qualico, Brian Higgins, Regional Vice-President, Qualico US, has worn many hats and has gained valuable experience by learning everything he could in each of his roles at the company. Brian will be retiring from his role at Qualico at the end of December and will be passing the torch to the Qualico US team he was so instrumental in building.

“Brian has such an impressive breadth of knowledge when it comes to construction, financing, relationships, and sales,” said Kevin Van, President & CEO. “Brian is someone that I continue to learn a lot from.”

Brian’s journey at Qualico began on October 4, 1976, when he was hired to work at Star Building Materials’ order desk in Calgary, and he later moved into the front office for the Calgary regional office. That role later expanded, and Brian would ultimately become the assistant manager for Qualico Homes brand going into the early 1980s.

Market conditions were tough in Calgary in the 1980s, but opportunities in Winnipeg were available, so Brian and his family moved there in late 1987 to introduce a new home brand to the Winnipeg market: Foxridge Homes.

In the late 1980s, the Calgary market began to improve and Brian moved back to the city in 1989, where he introduced a new home builder product to the market: Broadview Homes, which was already a successful entry-level home brand in Winnipeg. Brian’s leadership of Broadview Homes in Calgary would span 15 years.

By 2003, Qualico began exploring opportunities in the United States, and working closely with the WM Schmidt group to form a lasting partnership, before he and his wife fully relocated to Austin in 2008.

The expansion into the US market was successful, despite the challenges that the Great Recession presented in 2008/2009. Brian would take on the role of Regional Vice-President, Qualico US in October 2010.

Cover of Builder - 100 Magazine

Brian and his team were able to solidify Pacesetter Homes as a real competitor in the Texas market, including making the list of top 100 builders in the US, and things just kept growing from there. Qualico entered the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) market in 2018. This expansion was to the largest potential market Qualico has ever entered.

Another impressive expansion in the Qualico US region was the Properties component added in 2010. The first project was located at The Lakes at Techridge, which would grow to include a commercial phase where the Qualico US Regional office is located. Over the past 10 years, the income property program expanded into other areas of Austin, Long Beach, the San Francisco Bay area, and Washington state.Brian credits Ron Reimer, Executive Vice-President, and Randy Wiebe (former controller for the Winnipeg region) for Qualico’s successful foray into the US, as he said they were “an absolute key component, an integral part of the initiation of the US program.”

But Brian himself is also recognized within Qualico and the industry as being a real driving force for change and growth within the company, particularly for projects like the US program.

Front view of the Qualico office in Dallas, Texas

“Brian had a vision that US operations would emulate the growth and success of the Qualico Canada company,” said Tom Lynch, President, Pacesetter Homes Texas. “Brian undoubtedly made great progress into that vision during his leadership tenure, and has set the course that will surely be followed.” “Brian saw, in the aftermath of the recession, the need for smaller, more affordable housing,” said Ron. “He helped to introduce plans for homes he had built in Calgary on small 30-ft. lots. Pacesetter Homes Texas adapted those plans for our Chapperal community, which became a huge success and helped to launch Pacesetter Homes as a leader in the Austin market.”

“Real estate by its very nature is a risk business,” Brian shared. “You can’t ignore due diligence when evaluating an opportunity, but it has to be balanced with intuition and instincts. You can’t make decisions based on hard data alone.”

Front view of the Qualico Regional office located in Austin, TexasBrian has also been an outstanding leader at Qualico, as he has helped many people throughout the years learn and grow in their roles in his own unique way.

“He will challenge you in ways that encourage growth, and support you along the way,” said LaNelle Deardorf, incoming Regional Vice-President, Qualico US. “Brian has been an incredible mentor to me over the past eight years, and I can’t thank him enough.”

“Something to admire in Brian is his ability to recognize good things in people,” said Kevin, “give them what they need to rise to their potential and most importantly, give them room to do it. He knows when to step back and let competent people do their job, and that can be tricky for leaders.”

Hercules Bayfront Complex

Along with the people he’s worked with and for, Brian said there is something else near and dear to his heart that he’s going to miss about working at Qualico.

“I’m going to miss Texas,” he said. “Texas is its own world within the United States. I’ll miss not only my work life there, but my personal life as well: the culture, the politics, and the personalities at every level.”

Looking to the future, Brian said he feels that he’s leaving everything in capable hands and feels good about the company’s future. He also feels good about what he’s managed to accomplish during his time with Qualico.

Aerial view of Austins colony

"I have pride in everything I’ve done over the course of time,” he said, “I’m proud of it and I know, because I’m proud of it, it will stand the test of time. And that will be my legacy. If you don’t have pride in what you’re doing, you cannot expect other people to remember it or care about it.”

Brian will be staying on until the end of December to work on various U.S. initiatives. He and his wife will live in Winnipeg after his retirement and are being welcomed back by the Qualico employees located there.

Please join us in wishing Brian all the best in his retirement!

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