February 4th, 2014. That is the day our lives would change forever. That is the day we took the leap of faith. We turned on our very stable, predictable, low risk lives and leaped into the scary, exciting, uncertain, exhilarating world of being entrepreneurs. Today is our third birthday which has really created a time of reflection for me. It has been the craziest three years of my entire life. Our blood, sweat and tears are literally invested in Avana Homes. We have created a company that is built on our values, which makes me very proud. From day one, we wanted to build quality homes that exceeded industry standards. We wanted build a rental portfolio and be the best landlords in Regina. We wanted to be an employer that showed appreciation to their employees. We wanted to be a leader in social responsibility. We wanted to stay humble. I honestly feel that we have stayed true to every value we put forward for Avana to aim for. A family came together to make this happen and the team work between us four owners has been nothing short of spectacular.
The one word that really comes to mind today is THANKFUL. I am thankful to our employees, partners, associates, trades, clients, tenants and everyone that we do business with. I am also thankful for the family and friends that have supported us. It is an interesting exercise to take the biggest leap of faith you ever have, and look around to see who has your back. A lot of people in my life have really surprised me over the last three years… good and bad. People you just assume are going to support you don’t, and people you don’t expect too much from end up being some of your biggest cheerleaders!
People often ask me how Avana came to be. I gave birth to my first baby in April 2013. At that time, I was extremely career oriented. I was a Private Banker for RBC Wealth Management and my husband/business partner, Troy, was a firefighter for the City of Regina. The entire world as I knew it came crashing down around me when I became a mother. The love I had for my baby exceeded any fulfillment I had ever gotten from anything else. All of a sudden, my exciting business trips were an agonizing thought. My eagerness for my career was fogged by my love for my daughter and my desire to be really present in her life. How would I be good at my job and also be a good wife and mom? It was a fork in the road and I knew the decision I would make would affect the rest of my life. I knew simply not working was not an option, because I’ve been a go-getter my entire life. I needed to find a ‘job’ that would fulfill me while offering the flexibility I knew I would need to be the mom I wanted to be. I thought and thought and thought what the solution was, and one night while trying to fall asleep… REAL ESTATE popped into my head. I already owned 3 rental properties… so I thought I could take that experience and multiply it. The next day I took a 6-hour online course about how to write a business plan, and Troy and I stayed up until 3 am writing it. We perfected it over the next few days. That business plan was to build 4 rental houses per year for ten years, and then both Troy and I would both quit our jobs, and focus our attention on our kid(s). We then interviewed several builders in the city and couldn’t quite find the quality we were looking for at the price point we could afford… leading to our first major roadblock.
A short while later, I was having a coffee play date with my sister in law/business partner, Nicki. Her baby, Ava, was 6 months old and my baby, Juliana, was 9 months old. We were talking about my ‘plan’ and she brought up the idea of my brother, Matt, helping build the houses. What a brilliant idea!? How could I not have thought of this on my own!? Everyone says to never mix business with family, but how could we not? Matt was already a journeyman carpenter working for another home builder in Regina. He was and still is one of the hardest working people I know. We called a family meeting a short while later, and the four of us held hands and jumped in with two feet as ONE team. We joined our girl’s names together to come up with Avana, and off we went.
Since then, we have accomplished more than I ever knew was possible. We have built almost forty houses, started construction on 3 commercial buildings totalling over 30,000 square feet, become landlords to over 100 doors, created a full service property management company called Avana Rentals and much more. Between us two couples, we have brought another 3, soon to be 4, babies into the world. We have persevered through hard times in our marriages and as a family running a multi-million-dollar business together. None of it has been easy, but so so worth it. We have designed a life for ourselves that will allow us to be the people we want to be for the rest of our lives. We will continue to provide superior quality homes, we will continue to provide exceptional customer service and we will continue to exemplify social responsibility.