Making a difference in its communities
Just over 10 years ago, Deveraux Homes was a small custom home builder. Today, the company develops and manages multi-family rental properties in three provinces, provides affordable housing, and contributes to numerous local and regional charities. This dedication to being the best in its field, as well as supporting its tenants and its communities, has led to being recognized as Canada’s Best Managed Companies.
Getting to know Deveraux
Deveraux Homes originally launched in 2008, and started off by building custom homes in Regina. After purchasing an established apartment community, its owners recognized a need for more rental housing in the city, as Saskatchewan was experiencing an economic boom. There was also a lot of aging rental stock and a lack of new multi-family buildings. The company began building its own rental properties, which included a host of amenities and services that were designed to better meet tenants’ needs. Deveraux Homes is now part of the Deveraux Group of Companies, which designs and develops multi-family properties (Deveraux Developments), owns and manages high quality rental buildings (Deveraux Apartment Communities), and runs a private equity firm that sources, owns and operates multi-family real estate developments (Deveraux Asset Management). It has also grown outside the province, building and managing rental properties in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary. Beyond its increased involvement in the rental housing industry, the company is having a positive impact on its tenants and the community. “We believe that our success is due to more than the efforts of one person, or even a few people on the management team,” said Denis Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer. “It’s the result of the efforts of the entire group of people in the organization. We have an innovative and capable group, and that is what has made us so successful.”
Making a difference
The Deveraux Group of Companies follows three tenets in running its business, building properties and dealing with clients, which are collectively referred to as the “Deveraux Difference.” These tenets include quality craftsmanship, masterful design and superior customer service. The company focuses on providing a high level of service and amenities, which includes on-site clubhouses that are staffed with a leasing and maintenance team. Its commitment to customer service extends through the tenant’s entire life cycle with the organization.
“We make sure that the initial site visit is as pleasurable as possible so that there is no pressure on the tenant when they arrive,” said Jones. “We try to provide suites that are most convenient for meeting the tenants’ needs. For example, we will put tenants with specific physical needs in units that are closer to entrances and amenities, and families with children on ground floor units if desired. We also help with move ins, and ensure that maintenance visits are as seamless as possible.”
Earning industry recognition
This year, the Deveraux Group of Companies was recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. It is just the 19th company based in Saskatchewan that has received the award over the 26-year history of the program. This award goes to best-in-class Canadian owned and managed companies with revenues exceeding $15 million and that demonstrate strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. Program sponsors include Deloitte Private, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business and TMX Group. An independent judging panel that includes representatives from program sponsors, as well as special guest judges, evaluate applicants to Canada’s Best Managed Companies. This year’s Best Managed companies share commonalities that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability and commitment to talent. “To be recognized with an award of this magnitude and to be honoured amongst such an esteemed group of businesses and business leaders, is both exciting and humbling,” said Jones. “We owe this success to our employees, clients and industry partners.” The Deveraux Group of Companies has received a number of industry awards over its relatively short history. In 2018, it was named Home Builder of the Year from the Regina and Region Home Builders Association (RRHBA). In 2017, the Regina Chamber of Commerce gave the company the Paragon Award for Community Involvement, and it won the Growth and Expansion Award at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce ABEX Awards. In 2016, the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA) jointly awarded Deveraux Developments and Deveraux Apartment Communities the Rental Development of the Year award.
Commitment to providing affordable housing
The Deveraux Group of Companies has always been committed to making rental housing more affordable for tenants. It takes innovative approaches to building multi-family rental properties more quickly and more economically than the average. Understanding that some tenants need financial assistance to cover their rents, the company looked into ways that it could help to make this happen. In 2014, Deveraux Asset Management collaborated with the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) to develop and introduce the Capital Rent Subsidy (CRS) program, which funds the construction of purpose-built affordable rental units. In exchange for a grant through the program, developers can provide low-income tenants with rental housing at a substantial discount. Through the program, Deveraux Developments was able to provide 60 affordable rental housing units in Regina. It also used a similar program to create another 14 affordable rental housing units in the city. Through the CRS program, rents are set at 30 percent below market rates, and they are kept at these rates for 10 years. SHC can renew the program to allow the Deveraux Group of Companies, as well as other developers of multi-family rental housing, to continue offering affordable rental units. Prospective tenants have to meet certain criteria, such as a maximum income level, established by SHC to qualify for the lower rents. The company has expanded its commitment to providing tenants with more affordable rents into other provinces. “We worked with Manitoba Housing under a similar program to create and manage 96 affordable housing units in the province,” said Jones. “Over the last five years, we’ve been able to develop more than 150 affordable housing units.”
Charitable and community involvement
The Deveraux Group of Companies has shown great commitment to support its tenants, as well as the communities in which its employees live and work. It provides donations and fundraising to various charities and organizations, engages in service mentorship and leadership, and actively volunteers to assist community-based organizations. In 2018, the company launched the Deveraux Cares Employee Volunteer Program, which supports community-based organizations and aligns employees’ interests and passions with people in the community who need support and assistance. The program started with the Deveraux Cares Clothing Drive, which raised more than 10,000 pieces of clothing, including gently used professional, casual and outerwear clothing, for local non-profit organizations throughout Regina. Examples of its involvement with local, regional and national charities include:
- Contributing funds for every home it has built over the last five years to Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan, which provides accommodation for families of sick children traveling to Saskatoon to receive medical treatment
- Partnering with Street Culture Project, a Regina based non-profit charitable organization that works to empower vulnerable youth within the community, by setting up programs to help street youth to enter the workforce
- Providing free renovations for the facilities of the North Central Community Association soup kitchen, which provides people with warm meals
- Donating funding, resources and age-appropriate Christmas gifts to My Aunt’s Place, a permanent facility operated by YWCA Regina that provides housing to homeless single women and women with children
- Working with the Regina Open Door Society, anon-profit organization that provides settlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants in Regina
- Supporting Hope’s Home, which provides necessary care for children with complex medical needs, their siblings and typically developing children from the community; this includes daycare services, early learning and development programming, respite services, supportive living as well as transition care
“We don’t do this for recognition, but to reinforce our obligation to pay it forward,” said Jones. “We encourage our partners in the industry to do the same.”