As president and managing partner of Albi Homes, Allan Klassen is a busy man. Having recently accepted the CHBA’s National Grand SAM Award — the overall award of excellence for both building and marketing – Klassen and Albi Homes have come a long way since the company was first founded by Tom Mauro in 1982. In that time, Albi has become one of the most well regarded homebuilders in the city, also taking home an award for their Carrara model in Artesia at Heritage Pointe this year. CREB®Now caught up with Klassen to discuss what makes Albi successful and a little bit about the city he calls home.
CREB®Now>> What does the SAM Award mean to Albi Homes?
Klassen>> Any time you are nominated or win an award that is voted on by your peers is a great testament to your team, trade partners and suppliers and most of all to the amazing customers we get to provide homes for every year. Winning the National GRAND SAM is a huge accomplishment for Albi and we are very proud to have been selected amongst all the amazing builders across the country.
CREB®Now>> What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time at Albi?
Klassen>> I feel we have been working so hard over the past number of years to truly deliver a best in class product and experience for our customers, and to have a 98 per cent “would buy again” rating from AVID Rating systems is a huge accomplishment for our entire team, and is aligned with our long term vision of being the most desired brand in the luxury market in the nation.
CREB®Now>> What sets Albi apart from other builders?
Klassen>> It starts with our truly core focus on our customer – the Albi customer. We feel we are truly focused on a core market of discerning buyers and that we have a real understanding of what they need/want and value, so focus on one market is number one. Secondly our focus on the need result, which is based on our brand promise – “You will refer us” – this has resulted in a luxury estate market leading 98 per cent “would refer/buy again” score. Thirdly, our systems and processes that allow us to be very personalized for each customer but yet geared for solid volume – 150 to 180 homes per year at an average of $900,000. Not many builders can say that. We sweat the small stuff, and have people that care – these attributes describe the culture at Albi and our people live it each and every day. Finally Albi is fortunate to be a part of some of the most sought after estate communities in and around our city. Communities like Aspen, Auburn Bay, McKenzie Town, Cranston , Artesia, Valley Ridge and Watermark to list a few. ‘Location, location, location’ is still prominent in the decision process for customer and we have some of the best [locations] there are to offer.
CREB®Now>> What do you think is the biggest issue facing Calgary homebuilders right now?
Klassen>> Affordability. Over the past seven years what once cost you $500,000 and was considered [an estate] now is costing $1 million, and I feel it’s not going to improve dramatically. Primarily due to cost of materials, and labor and of course the dramatic increased cost of land, infrastructure and the length of time to bring product on are all factors in to cost increases. Thank heaven for low interest rates and a pretty solid economy in Alberta. Shortage of skilled labor would be a close second, and I’m sure in five to 10 years will be the number one issue.
CREB®Now>> What’s one thing that makes for a good community in your opinion?
Klassen>> First of all for sure people! That’s what community is – a group of people that integrate, socialize, support and enjoy time together. People, families – they are the start to a great community. As far as aesthetics go, obviously well planned communities that allow for great traffic flow, have strong amenities, walking paths, open space and places to congregate whether that is Starbucks or a local pub, great communities like Tuscany that embrace a family from their first home starting out and allow them to grow with the community over time.
CREB®Now>> If you could change one thing about Calgary what would it be?
Klassen>> Other than the Flames winning more consistently, I feel for a city that is becoming so known as one of the best places to live in the world we could do a better job on the pride factor and how we view ourselves. Having lived here for over 30 years, I have been able to see so much change and diversity and amazing people form our city, with so many different cultures and backgrounds. This truly is a city we need to be proud of. With the open spaces, the parkways and our amazing Rocky Mountains in our back yard, along with a very stable economy and opportunities for young and old, we can have a bright future for our children of future decades. However, our leadership in both the public and private sector must get on the same page and understand what it will take to continue to build our city for generations to come, not just for the next term in office.
CREB®Now>> What’s your favourite way to spend a day off in or around the city?
Klassen>> What’s a day off? No I’m kidding. A great day is waking up early going for a long run with my wife through the amazing path system around Bowness park, then taking our kids on a bike ride to Eau Claire having lunch on a sunny day, and then ending the day with a bunch of friends and family over for a great meal with great wine in our backyard in Bowness – that to me is what it’s all about.