For those who know Peter Mason, senior vice president and director of business development at Cushman & Wakefield Ltd., it may be hard to believe that he grew up not wanting anything to do with real estate. “I saw my dad working all the time and thought that it’s definitely not a business I want to be involved with,” Mason says. So he went into banking but soon found himself looking for the next challenge. And since both his father and grandfather had forged careers in real estate, he realized it was in his blood.
“I matured,” says Mason, who today is a Professional Land Economist and a fellow of the Real Estate Institute and is accredited by the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. “I spoke to my father and joined his firm, and the rest is history.”
Today, with 50 years of experience in commercial real estate under his belt, Mason still enjoys the industry he originally shunned—still enjoys finding solutions in its ever-changing landscape. Here, Advantage looks at the numbers surrounding Mason’s accomplishments and how Cushman & Wakefield’s international reach is ushering the industry into the future.
22 years old
When Mason finally decided to move into the family business under his father, it didn’t take long for him and one of his colleagues to strike out on their own. At 22 years of age, Mason was the owner of Mason International and was the youngest real estate broker in the entire province of Ontario. Just three months into the company’s formation, he received a call from the Ford Motor Company.
“I ended up turning that phone call into a 20-year relationship with the Ford Motor Company in southern Ontario,” Mason says. “That set the company at a very young age at a fairly high level of success and involvement, and it just continued to carry on from there.”
Mason ran Mason International for 32 years before merging with another major realty company for an additional 8 years. Never one to stay satisfied with success, he set out to find another challenge and joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2003. The opportunity arose through the relationship Mason had with the company’s chairman of the board, but what appealed to him was the company’s people.
“It was the type of culture that I felt very comfortable with,” he says. Having been a successful president before joining, Mason was hired into the firm’s senior ranks as senior vice president and director of business development.
80-acre mixed-use project
Joining Cushman & Wakefield offered Mason the chance to expand his expertise in team building and to grow his experience with international companies. “One of the things that attracted me to this company was not only its local knowledge but its international knowledge and reach,” Mason says.
Through his vast experience at the organization, Mason has learned the importance of teaming people with different specialties and knowledge as the industry becomes more complex. “Being able to reach out within the company and work with and build teams for various projects that I’m working on has been very critical to our continued success,” he says.
One project has included working with two major corporations from China that are looking to do significant purchases in the greater Toronto market, one of which is an 80-acre mixed-use project with retail, high-rise, and office spaces. The process has required Mason to pull from a base of seasoned veterans as well as the firm’s younger professionals in order to build the right team.
In the mid-1990s, Mason became the first Canadian to serve as chairman of the advisory board for a large US-based company with 6,000 people. “That’s when I totally understood the importance of international reach,” he says. At Cushman & Wakefield, Mason deals with the world economy daily, monitoring its impact around the globe constantly.
“The fortunate thing is that the communication within our company globally is fantastic,” he says. That means being aware of all strategic deals being made around the world and then being able to share that information not only internally but with clients as well.
3 national hotels, 10 restaurants
A few years ago, a local Markham, Ontario, developer who owned one of the key locations within the city retained Mason for a business-park project. Taking a long-term approach, Mason knew that to be successful the development had to attract industry types by first appealing to hotels and restaurants. Once Mason established the framework, the project’s entire marketing program was based on building up from the hotels.
So the company brought in 3 hotels and 10 restaurants and was able to start development of the business park, bringing in Wyeth—now known as Pfizer—as the business park’s first tenant. There is potential for another million square feet.
50 years of community service
In addition to devoting his professional life to real estate, Mason has been an active member of the Markham community for more than 50 years, even going so far as to win a local Businessman of the Year award in 1989.
Since 2009, Mason and the city’s mayor have been cochairmen of the capital campaign for the local Markham Stouffville Hospital. In 2012, the hospital was able to obtain $400 million from various levels of government to build a hospital extension. To receive that sum, Mason and the mayor helped raise $56 million—$6 million more than they were aiming for—to buy the equipment necessary for the project. Because of that feat, the Governor General of Canada awarded Mason with a rarefied honour: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.