Robert McLeod

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen

Age: 31

Job Title: Managing Director, McLeod Project Marketing

Why He’s Top 40: His business is now responsible for selling $250 million worth of projects in the city.

Key To Success:  Knowing his weaknesses: “I don’t know how to run a business. I really don’t, but I have hired some really good people who know how to run a business.”

When Robert McLeod was 20 years old, he did something that few people will ever do. It was 2001, post 9-11, and he was working in his family’s timber business. The client, the United States government, wanted to start building with a line of timber products that were fireproof and environmentally friendly, a product that didn’t exist. Working on his own, McLeod found the right people to invent it. “I know about finding a niche and finding a customer who will pay for it, and creating and bringing the right people together,” he says.

He patented, manufactured and marketed two lines, Pyroblock and PureKr, now used in buildings such as the Pentagon and Bill Clinton’s Presidential library. But then he left the family business, McLeod Building Supplies (which later grew into McLeod Heavy Industries), to start at the bottom in real estate.

Why? “Even though I got the recognition in the family business for what I had done, I felt that until I created a business of my own I wasn’t going to be taken seriously,” he explains.

He began taking on more real estate work involving builders who were having trouble selling out their condo buildings, and soon realized that the developers were using an outdated strategy. “In major urban centres, there is usually a project real-estate firm and Edmonton didn’t have one. So – boom – there is instantly a need for services.” And McLeod filled the gap.

He soon branded himself as the “project guy.” He now does business with some of Alberta’s largest developers, including Abbey Lane homes and Reid Worldwide.

It has been largely McLeod’s remarkable stamina that has fuelled his success. He works seven days a week and sleeps about three to four hours a night. “I am eccentric and insane, and I think I have lost my marbles every morning.”

But the satisfaction of knowing that he has built his own business from the ground up makes it all worth the sweat equity. “I am where I am because this is my kingdom. I have created it,” he says. “The business has given me the opportunity to do things in life that I feel as fortunate as royalty to be able to do.”

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