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Development with Integrity: Daljit Thind

Darpan News Desk Darpan, 31 Jan, 2011
  • Development with Integrity: Daljit Thind

” We began this company with a vision of building quality homes and creating value for our customers. Today, it is not only our vision, but it is our motto that we stand by with the homes we build. “  

Daljit Thind has capsized the phrase “build it and they will come.” By transforming his humble beginnings into a path of developing custom homes, townhomes, condominiums, and current a project in excess of $100 million – Thind has become an industry pillar.  His rapid success in such a short time characterizes the best attributes of immigrant entrepreneurialism. Thind is a man of integrity, someone who is relentless about working hard, doing things the right way, and putting his heart into his business. It is well known that success doesn’t come easily – behind true success comes a passion or vision to take one concept and transform it into greatness. Thind’s simple idea of building one home has brought about the ability to change the residential development marketplace in the Lower Mainland.  In less than a decade, Daljit Thind and THIND Signature Developments have built with integrity and a commitment to value, all of which has given thousands of families’ homes.  

“Surround yourself with smart people, listen and weigh in on what they have to say and then take an opportunity. Work hard and invest time and money into projects, don’t take shortcuts and do work honestly, so you can be happy with the outcome.” – Daljit Thind

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mr.Thind, who is quiet, almost shy – a true introvert.  His soft spoken voice and keen ability to listen effectively has shown to provide him with abundant success.  After a few moments of generalized chatter, it is easy to ascertain that Thind is the epitome of integrity. He believes in his product and that he creates something of value. He doesn’t toot his own horn, but hesitantly proceeds with the interview with a quiet confidence. He focuses the conversation on being a part of a team; it might be because he is what social behavior experts call an “Introvert Entrepreneur”.  These ‘types’ are known to pride their successes as being a part of a team because they value effective collaboration and believe they can accomplish more within the team they are a part of than on their own. They don’t assume that a new initiative or product will succeed on the first try, so they plan for iterations. This means spending time planning, keeping careful notes and/or developing a checklist or two, and updating them in response to new failures. They don’t keep trying the same thing if it doesn’t work; they make small changes and see if they have an impact.    

“I have known Daljit Thind for the last 10 years and must say that he is a true gentleman. After each of our numerous conversations over the last decade, I come back impressed with his mannerisms, his knowledge, and his opinions on what is happening within our community. He is a very successful businessman and has done many big projects in the Lower Mainland. I have actually spoken with many people who live in the homes he has constructed and they have noted his professionalism and business sense. He builds ‘Class 1’ buildings and has done many great things to change the image of the city of Burnaby. He has contributed greatly to the economy. On a level of being South Asian, he is a true role model. He comes from a very humble background and has accomplished great success. He gives our community an opportunity to see that if you work hard, you can achieve success. In fact, I wish there were more “Daljits” within our community. Individuals who not only achieve great levels of business success, but also ensure that the image they are portraying to the world is recognized with respect.” - Raj Chouhan  

 No one entrepreneur, of course, is entirely introvert or extrovert. Most introverts deal with the world about them when necessary, and extroverts often deal effectively with ideas. But the introvert does his best work inside his head, in reflection, and the extrovert does his best work externally, in action. In either case, the preference for inner directedness or outer directedness remains.  

Typically, entrepreneurs usually underrate the value and strength of their primary functional and attitudinal direction. Because these are so natural to them, they erroneously believe that everyone else is also similarly capable, and so do not truly appreciate their unique personality, capacities and gifts – something all too familiar to Daljit Thind.  

 
“I have known Daljit Thind for over 15 years now and have had a few opportunities to work with him, while he has done developing in the city. He is all about quality construction and his work…his projects are based on attention to details. He takes his time with projects and makes things attractive by focusing on small details. He does a wide range of projects and has done some wonderful developments. He has wonderful planning staff and he has a great team that works with him to complete projects. He surrounds himself with people of high caliber and he is always welcomed to do any project in the city. In fact, we have asked him to make a speech many times. He and his staff show great professionalism and integrity with their work.” - Sav Dhaliwal

For over a decade, families have turned to Thind’s company, THIND Properties to experience the dream of new home ownership. Hailed as a premier home builder with a reputation for providing architectural innovation, tremendous quality, superior customer service and warranties, THIND Properties delivers on all aspects of the construction industry – from careful preparationof plans to choosing the top staff to develop the properties. They specialize in a wide range of single family and custom builds to town homes and condos. 

So one of my first questions to Thind was, “Is there a specific type of person who is best suited to being a real estate developer?”.  He answered with a simple, “No”. But further investigation led me to determine that no single path leads automatically to success in real estate development. Developers come from a variety of disciplines—real estate brokerage, mortgage banking, consulting, construction, lending, architecture, landscape architecture, legal services, among others.And so I reflected on the path Daljit Thind has taken.  

Born and raised in the village of Rachian, Ludhiana, India;Daljit Thind was naturally book smart. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Rohtak University and dreamed of becoming a Pharmacist.  Soon after he got married and immigrated to Canada in 1992. With new marital responsibilities, his pursuit for the field of pharmacy was short lived, as Canadian accreditation was hard to achieve and equivalency testing posed hurdles for the new immigrant. Thind was obligated to take a job in construction.  “I took on any basic odd jobs, especially since the economy was in rough shape in the early 1990’s. I did any kind of work I could find from framing to plumbing.  A few times, I didn’t even get paid for my efforts. Times were hard for people.”   

“Daljit is a very respected member of our community. His business has the enviable rating of A+ from the Better Business Bureau because of his attention to detail and his willingness to resolve issues as they come up.” - Peter Julian

 Little did Thind know at the time that those years of hard manual labour in the construction field would pay off so generously?  His first step into real estate began in 1996, when he bought a lot in Surrey. “In 1996, Surrey was barren land; it definitely was not what it was today. You can fairly say that I was one of the firsts to purchase and build in Surrey. It was my very first project and I learned so many valuable lessons, like the importance of hiring an experienced general contractor and being on time with a project. I completed that project in six months, but I also lost about $25,000 in the project. I also learned a lot about myself and how much I enjoyed the whole project.”  

As Donald Trump, a real estate mogul in New York notes, “What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.” Rather than give up after what an average individual would chock up as a failure, Thind forged ahead and in 1997, he purchased an older home in Burnaby. He tore down the existing structure and built a home and this time lost no money, all while finishing the project in two and a half months.  “Burnaby was a hot market, land was affordable, I had a bit of experience under my belt, and the amount of tradesmen available helped to choose the best within the trades.”  

Thind quickly sold the house and moved to purchase two lots in 1998, again in Burnaby. “1998 was an interesting year for construction, people were calling me crazy to even attempt to build, but I held on and knew that if I could cover my payments and take a bit of a chance, things would be okay.” Well his approach held true and before he finished building, the two homes sold. This was the start of big things for Thind, who from 1998 to 2002 built 100 houses. “People started to recognize our work – the quality and time we represented.  We created a team of nine staff members and the team worked diligently and positively. The result was making money from all 100 houses.”  

In 2002, Thind ventured into creating a 55 unit, multi-family complex in Burnaby in 14 months. He notes, “This was a harder project, we were plagued with two problems, a 30% rise in construction costs, which had to be absorbed and the units selling out it in record time.” The project wasn’t even completed before he started another 42-unit project in Burnaby and finished it too in 14 months. It proved to be even more successful than its forerunner.  

After his success in Burnaby, Thind wanted to try his hand in the Vancouver marketplace and did enormous research about demand, affordability, and hired a marketing team. Developing prime residential real estate takes research and planning. The first step in the development process is finding an attractive property. A development group needs to select property that has unique natural amenities, or contains a specific terrain, this is beneficial and adds to the overall theme that a development group is establishing. THIND developed properties are planned and designed taking into consideration the needs and expectations of potential residents. This allows the architects and designers the freedom to create a community feel.  

” I have known Daljit for the last six years and he is a very, very nice guy, who is very focused and knows exactly what he wants to strive for and attain. He is soft-spoken and uses limited words, but his genuine good nature easily comes through. He is a great developer in the market, who is providing quality livable spaces for families who live in the Lower Mainland or are looking to move here. He comes from a very modest background and has been able to achieve a lot of success. He is setting a precedent for youngsters and those interested in developing that it can be done, you can reach new heights, you can do things with integrity, and lastly you can be successful. I think also a key part of Daljit’s success is his humility and knowing that it is not just his success, but rather is very good at surrounding himself with a strong team that is able to create a synergy and is supportive – all enabling them to fast-track themselves to success.” - Puneet Agrawal, Assistant Vice-President. Commercial Banking, Canadian Western Bank

In 2004, his planning and the efforts of marketers paid off, as he created three multifamily projects that consisted of 55, 68, and 10 units respectively.   Next was a 108 unit in East Vancouver that sold out in a few hours and was a media sensation in the Lower Mainland. “Thind notes, at this time I felt a bit more confidence, I noticed developers were trying to copy my style, which I found to be charming.”  With an array of simultaneous projects, Thind and his company THIND Properties have established a synonymous name with quality building. Each project is treated completely different since each is unique in its identity. Presently,instead of foraging their next project within a given city or area, the group is presented specific opportunities.  The company’s success was recently recognized by a National Home Association and presented with the ‘Best Builder Award for Quality Buildings’.  “We began this company with a vision of building quality homes and creating value for our customers. Today, it is not only our vision, but it is our motto that we stand by with the homes we build. Every home built by THIND Properties is accompanied by a full warranty backed by National Home Warranty that provides complete peace of mind.”

“He is a very soft spoken person, who is down to earth. I would have to say he is the best developer in the area and has paved the way for others. He was the first one in our community to build in the downtown area. He is a positive man. I have never seen him angry. He is great about overcoming obstacles very calmly and always has a positive attitude. When I have had a conversation with him and have been pessimistic about something, he shuns the pessimism and makes it a point to highlight the positive. He has a dedication to his business and his family. He has opened the door for the next generation and can be touted as a creative person. There has been many times where he has happily shown me a location, where there was nothing and then he has built a building that now houses 100 families. Daljit has noted that he feels proud that he has been able to create homes for the families. That is his glory. That is his shtick. I also have to say his ability to balance his home and work life is very admirable. Most business people think they have to focus everything into their business to be successful; he is a good example of someone who is able to balance both. He is also able to remain connected to his motherland and help the downtrodden in some of the poor areas of India.” - Harjinder Thind , News Director (RED FM). President of Surrey-Newton Rotary Club.

Within our conversation, I asked Thind many times whether he sees himself as seeking opportunities or chances.  He noted, “It is important to take measured steps, despite fear, self-doubt and negativity. Taking on an opportunity is doing it anyway, even when faced with fear and doubt. You can make a choice to take an opportunity and move forward or stay stuck. Either way, you are making a choice.” I found this especially interesting since most of us think of new opportunities as “risk taking” – something dangerous, extreme or foolish. Opportunities can be all those things and more. We take opportunities daily. It was an opportunity to learn to ride a bike, drive a car, enter into a relationship, change jobs, or move to a new city. These were all opportunities you made a conscious choice to take and you survived. It’s even an opportunity not to take an opportunity. By not taking opportunities, you don’t grow. You become stuck, frustrated and remorseful. Your reluctance to take steps inhibits you from living a life with joy and confidence. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of what others may think, fear of failure, or fear of not being good enough are often disguised as procrastination, indecision, avoidance, confusion, or being easily distracted. Great things stem from great chances. Personalities who do not seek opportunities are not likely to build much either. With great chances comes great success. But first you have to embrace opportunity.  

I also asked Thind if developing real estate is his passion.  Without skipping a beat he noted, “It’s definitely a passion – it’s a priority to my life.  My wife, Harinder and three children: Paul, Priya, and Gary are my first priority, I am very family focused, but after them, developing is something I love doing. When I have any downtime from construction, I am looking to build again.” This attachment and “bug to build” is a hallmark characteristic of developers who find the process of consciously and purposefully converting opportunities into marketable products or services as key to help distinguish various levels of their innovation.  

Entrepreneurs like Thind are true creators. Going back to my earlier scrutiny about being an “Introvert Entrepreneur” and without out rightly categorizing Thind, but in my opinion he fits the bill. Our conversation led me to see the uncanning similarities of the “Introvert Entrepreneur” and Thind. Key characteristics include completely trusting ones own intuitive insights, problems stimulate them, and they see many alternative solutions plus possibilities in situations that appear “closed” to others. These entrepreneurs are very dependable. They react to facts and problems in an individualist’s way, but what they actually do about them is usually sound and valid. This is because the deeper aspects of things are sensed.  Throughout our conversation, Thind’s answers and development path resounded with these fundamentals.  

The uncanning similarities don’t end there, instead, in work they are thorough, painstaking and systematic, which have become the cornerstones of THIND Properties. Such people are patient with detail and routine and their persevering attitude has a stabilizing effect on others. They do not get into projects impulsively, but, once involved, it is difficult to discourage them, and they are unstinting in the effort and time they spend. Their practical judgment, memory for detail, and conservative bent make them consistent and reliable leaders. They can always be counted on to cite cases to support their evaluations of people, methods and projects. Responsibilities of implementation are ideally suited for them. And, if necessary, they will complete the work themselves rather than miss a deadline. Again all these principles, Thind himself subsists by and further has developed in his organization.  

What else is surprising about Thind? Well, his connection to his humble beginnings and India is definitely worth mentioning. For the last six years, Thind has been a part of two charitable organizations that focus on the environment and educating girls, respectively. “For me it is important to give back. The first charity we work with is based from Satguru Ram Singh Satsang  in the Village Dodher, District Moga. It was originally started by Sant Ram Singh Sidhu and every year we focus on planting one million trees and conducting medical camps.” His second charitable ties are quite interesting since the emphasisis on educating women and girls in an area where the mindset does not accept female education. The parents of these girls and women forbid them attending school with their male counterparts and most families are impoverished.  So SBRS has buses that commute girls from 250 villages directly to and from school. “I have been working the SBRS College for Women & SBRS College for Girls located in Ghuduwala Village in Saridkot District and SBRS Gurukul located in Moga District for about six years now. Our entire goal is to help these young girls and women get the education they deserve.” Thind and SBRS also take things one step further and help families pay for their daughters’ weddings.  

So what does the next stage of development have in mind for Thind and THIND Properties?  “Well, we are continuing to build custom homes and multiunit complexes. We are also looking to start high-rise apartment and condominiums in Vancouver. I have to say that would be the next natural business opportunity to take. Of course the numbers have to work, but otherwise that is next new project.”
A successful businessperson is one who has taken a chance even when those around them may have tried to dissuade them. Daljit Thind is truly a possibility taker. Despite business setbacks, Thind did not allow fear and negativity to prevent him from becoming one of the most successful real estate developers in the Lower Mainland. Thind notes, “Surround yourself with smart people, listen and weigh in on what they have to say and then take an opportunity. Work hard and invest time and money into projects, don’t take shortcuts and do work honestly, so you can be happy with the outcome. Don’t look for success in what others have to say. Lastly, don’t take yourself so seriously.” What more could you ask for when seeking business advice, especially from a man who has helped transform residential real estate development from home building into community design – all with integrity.

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