New Minto CEO says he'll stay the course

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One of Ottawa’s largest real estate firms will mark the end of an era in 2013 when Roger Greenberg, the long-time CEO of The Minto Group, steps down from his post.

But don’t expect any major changes from his replacement.

“Roger has set a path and laid out a vision and I think my objective, certainly in the near-to-medium term, is to continue and push the organization along that track,” said Michael Waters, the current president of Minto Communities.

Mr. Waters is scheduled to formally take over as CEO next October. He replaces Mr. Greenberg, who announced in December he would be stepping down from the position two decades after taking over in the early 1990s.

The appointment of Mr. Waters, who has lived in Ottawa since  moving to the city six years ago, represents a departure for a company that has been principally led by members of the Greenberg family since it started. Mr. Greenberg’s father and uncle ran the company before him.

It’s part of a succession plan the multimillion-dollar company has been working on for several years, Mr. Greenberg told OBJ earlier in December.

That plan will be tested early as one of Minto’s key sectors, the housing market, shows signs of slowing down. Ottawa home prices fell for the third straight month in November, according to the Teranet - National Bank national house price index, suggesting demand in the sector is softening.

Mr. Waters plans to tackle the problem by being “tighter” and “more disciplined” both in the marketing of their products and how they build them. This means the money they spend on each will have to go further than it used to.

“In a booming market you can make a lot of mistakes in the sense (that) a rising tide raises even mediocre performance,” said Mr. Waters. “Of course when the market starts to soften mediocre performance is not going to cut it.”

Luckily for Mr. Waters, though, he won’t be starting from scratch. His predecessor is going to be staying with the company as a board member.

The two will continue to work together, he said. with Mr. Greenberg handing off much of the day-to-day and operational work to his successor. Mr. Waters expected he would stay heavily involved in the “strategic files” such as expansion into new markets.

Buying land in areas as far away as Florida and Alberta has been a priority during the past few years for the company that started in Ottawa in 1955.

Mr. Waters expected to also continue improving on the design of new buildings so that they continue to improve on how efficiently they use energy.

He cited the effort Minto put into its head office building at 180 Kent St. as an example of the past accomplishments in the area that he’d like to build on. That structure was certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a third-party verification for energy-efficient buildings.