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How Ryan Beedie is building on a 70-year legacy of development and donation

Well-known developer on taking his company to new heights, while remaining true to its Burnaby-based community roots
Ryan Beedie is president of development company Beedie. He is holding a “Chatelaine” magazine from 1960 that features his father Keith Beedie's first PNE prize home.

Amidst soaring success and expansion, Burnaby-born Ryan Beedie remains steadfast in his commitment to his hometown .

Under his leadership, development company Beedie has expanded to markets in Ontario and Alberta, launched a residential arm called Beedie Living, continued to lead in the industrial market, made continuous philanthropic investments into local communities and carried on a legacy that started with Ryan’s father, Keith.

Early last month, the company celebrated yet another milestone—its 70th anniversary.

“It's not about me or my dad, it's about everyone connected to our business,” said Ryan in an interview. “I hope we can set a positive example for what a business can and should be within the community.”

Originally named Beedie Construction, Keith founded the company in 1954 with a focus on building single-family homes, which at the time went for roughly $12,000 each. Since, the company has grown into markets across Canada and Nevada.

Under the umbrella of the Burnaby-based company are Beedie Industrial, Beedie Construction and residential arm Beedie Living. The company also includes the private investment firm Beedie Capital, and BIV Holdings Ltd.—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beedie Investments Ltd.— is the largest shareholder of gold mining company Artemis Gold Inc. (CVE: ARTG).

Ryan joined the company in 1993 and took on the role of president in 2001.

Paul Holden, president and CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade, said that the Beedie name is synonymous with the growth that has happened in Burnaby.

“From a pure business and development point of view, they've been a leader in the city for many, many years. But the Beedie name goes beyond just being a leading developer and …  the family has always made the community a priority as well,” Holden said.

“We very much believe in the fact that a healthy economy is essential to create a healthy community, and vice versa, and companies like Beedie have always understood that.”

Ryan reminisced on his days growing up in Burnaby—where his mother still lives—and the time spent playing arcade games in a gas station along Kingsway. This was not too far from his job at food store IGA, where he worked as a teenager.

He recalled the panic when Save-on-Foods moved into the area’s original Station Square development in the 1980s, the same site that Beedie and developer Anthem Properties Group turned into the master-planned community it is today.

“Fast forward years later and here's Eric and I tearing down that same Save-On-Foods,” he said, referencing Anthem Properties CEO Eric Carlson.

“Doing the most incredible project in basically my hometown, where I grew up, that is something that we're really proud of and we may be moving our offices to Station Square. That’s how strongly we feel about that project, that we could see ourselves living there as a business.”

The project spans five towers, nearly five hectares and accounts for 1,792 homes, as well as 480,000 square feet of commercial and office space. It also represents the first residential high-rise project that Beedie took on in Burnaby.

Ryan said that the only thing he and his father ever disagreed on was the location of their head office. While currently located along Grandview Highway, Ryan said his father always preferred the office to be located on Kingsway.

Vision that’s true to community roots

While Ryan said he takes pride in the company’s ties to Burnaby, that has not stopped him from focusing on what is next. When asked what gets him up in the morning, he said it is “looking forward to what we can accomplish.”

“I'm only halfway through my career. I look around and I think, ‘What can we do? What have we done as a company and what can we do going forward?’ You've got a 70-year legacy, you've got this brand, this reputation and an amazing team, a strong land base,” he said.

“I won't say we're just getting started, it sounds a little trite because we've done so much. But with everything we've built upon, we're ascending.”

The next step in the company’s ascent is a roughly 39-hectare, master-planned Fraser Mills community along the Fraser River in Coquitlam. The project will include 5,500 homes across 16 towers that range from 29 to 49 storeys.

An industrial project was originally planned for the site, but the development was redesigned as residential after a colleague pointed out that there are few access points to the waterfront in Coquitlam, said Ryan.

“Over the next 15 to 20 years, we get to build out what was going to be effectively like a little town with 10,000 people living there,” he said.

“We started going down that road at a time when we didn't really even have our residential division yet.… Were we ready as an organization? I think we probably were but now we're more than ready.”

The first batch of sales for the 36-storey tower Debut launched in the fall of last year and sold out in four weeks. The next tower, the 32-storey Encore, is now selling and is 70 per cent sold.

“We've tapped into strong demand for this project, but it's not easy,” said Ryan, referencing economic headwinds such as slow permitting, inflation and high construction costs.

He said that the company has the benefit of leaning on their financial strength.

“We can make decisions that some other companies may not be able to make because we have the force power behind us, and we can be bold, we can be nimble.… We're not accountable to outside investors. I'm the owner.”

An industrious approach

At the same time, Beedie continues to invest and build upon his impressive industrial portfolio.

The company has completed over 35 million square feet of industrial construction across B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

This is in addition to laying claim to the title of “largest private industrial landowner, developer and property manager in Western Canada,” according to the company’s website. In B.C. alone, Beedie owns and manages the largest portfolio of industrial space at over 12 million square feet.

As a property manager, Beedie has a portfolio of 204 properties totalling nearly 16 million square feet.

The company is somewhat unique in its approach to industrial, as it has the expertise to both build and manage space.

“It’s within our DNA. We have our own carpenters or own labourers.... We actually build the building, then we will own it and we will be the property manager. It's like a one-stop shop,” he said.

Having the expertise in-house allows the development company to deliver projects in a more efficient and timely manner and “at a level of quality that is unsurpassed,” said Ryan.

“I don't think there is one company that does what we do, at the scale that we do that in, in Vancouver on the industrial side.”

Beyond bricks and mortar

The Beedie name, known for its physical legacy, also represents a legacy of significant philanthropic investment across the Metro Vancouver region.

Overall, the company has committed nearly $135 million to more than 350 organizations in need.

“It's more important now than ever, but it's always been a really important factor, that people want to work for a company that they know is committed to doing good. Both Keith in the early days, and now Ryan, have always fully understood the importance of that,” said Holden.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said the Beedie family has made a “tremendous” impact on the Burnaby community.  

“Following in the footsteps of his father Keith, Ryan has dedicated an incredible amount of time, energy and funds to improving community programs that benefit those in need in Burnaby. We are truly grateful to the Beedie family who has contributed so much to our community,” said Hurley in a statement to BIV.

Ryan and his father donated $22 million to Simon Fraser University to create the Beedie School of Business in 2011. Most recently, the company launched a fundraising campaign in support of non-profit Mackie's Place for the company’s 70th anniversary.

“The Beedies are one of the developers that truly make a difference. They understand that contributing to the community is more than just building bricks and mortar,” said Terry Hui, president and CEO of Concord Pacific Developments Corp.

The Beedie family have also made many contributions to Burnaby Hospital, including a $4 million matching gift last year toward the second phase of the hospital’s redevelopment. The project includes a new 12-storey acute care tower, which will be named the Keith and Betty Beedie Acute Care Tower.

“Their names are going to don the hospital where I was born and where my dad died,” said Beedie.

In 2018, Ryan created Beedie Luminaries, a $50 million registered foundation and non-profit society that is designed to help remove barriers for students who face financial adversity.

“I see the impact that we're having on these students, and this gets me so excited and fired up and I go, ‘Okay, well, the more success we have as a business, the more we can do in the community,’” he said.

“Philanthropy is a real motivator for what we do and over time, if we continue to have success, you'll see some further significant philanthropic investments in the community by us in the years to come. It's a big driver and it represents our corporate tagline, which is ‘built for good.’”