Odeen Eccleston and Lamont Wiltshire have a complicated relationship that’s about to become a whole lot more public.
The pair, co-founders of the Wiltshire Group, a triad of companies delivering real estate services, construction and development in the Greater Toronto Area, are on-and-off romantic partners who’ve somehow managed to run a thriving business together even in the periods when they’re both dating other people. This provocative dynamic will soon be played up on CTV’s Life Channel in a new series called Listing Large (release date yet to be announced).
A decade-long drama unfolds
“Canadian real estate fanatics and viewers of shows like Selling Sunset and Million Dollar Listing will be captivated by the real-life storylines against the backdrop of the GTA’s wild market,” says the channel.
The series will follow the duo as they launch their high-end brokerage, Wiltshire Eccleston (WE) Realty, while also breaking ground on a number of new developments and juggling childcare (they’re both single parents), friendship and erratic dating.
“The Odeen and Lamont story is one decade-long drama,” reveals Eccleston in a promo for the show. “We started working together in our 20s, buying and flipping houses. We dated and broke up, dated and broke up. We’re great business partners but not-so-great romantic partners.”
From house flips to business partners
Promotional materials go on to explain that as a developer and realtor (she’s WE Realty’s broker of record), Eccleston “rocks designer stilettos on the construction site in between daycare pickup and negotiating multimillion-dollar deals.”
Wilshire, meanwhile, is tagged as “a hard-nosed entrepreneur and builder.” When he first worked with Eccleston, having hired her to sell one of his custom-built homes, he confesses that he “grinded her down” so much on commission that she barely made money off the sale. (Eccleston explains that she chose to view it as “an important investment” in their future.)
“We were really just two kids,” says Wiltshire, a second-generation builder. “Now she tells me where to sign. We don’t talk about commission splits anymore.”
Before the lead-up to the television series, most of Eccleston and Wiltshire’s clients didn’t have any idea about their personal relationship dynamic. “We try to keep it strictly professional,” the pair explains. “Through it all, whether off or on, we maintain a best-friend relationship and solid business alliance.”
However titillating their personal lives may be for viewers, these two seem to be killing it when it comes to taking their business to the next level. The Wiltshire Group, an end-to-end facilitator of quality homes, is “a vertically integrated group of companies that all work together,” explains Wiltshire. “We’ve built a name for ourselves in the luxury market.”
Diverse, driven and award-winning
As a flourishing Black-owned business, the Wiltshire Group’s development arm has been the recipient of an award from the Black Business and Professional Association, a national non-profit that addresses equity and opportunity for the Black community.
“We have a range of diverse backgrounds on our team. We’re proud of that,” says Wiltshire. “Our motto is work a little harder and get over the bridge. We don’t get caught up with the biases,” although “they’re definitely out there,” he notes, both in the construction/development industry and the luxury market, neither of which tend to have sufficient diversity, representation, or inclusion for people of colour.
Thriving in a challenging industry
Eccleston, a self-confessed over-achiever who was previously featured on the HGTV real estate show Hot Market, is convinced that the Wiltshire Group’s high-level advertising standards and social media output were instrumental in attracting producers to WE Realty for the new television series.
Hiring a marketing agency can help with overall ad quality, she finds. “But raw can also be good,” she advises. “Selfie mode, just talking to your followers.”
The personal and the professional
After being business partners for close to a decade, she and Wiltshire amalgamated companies in 2018 to create the Wiltshire Group brand. Throughout the pandemic, they began ramping up WE Realty, gaining more agents (now about a dozen) and a luxurious 5,000 square-foot office space, complete with two reception areas, expanses of glass, art walls, and a display kitchen and living room.
“Expanding is tricky,” admits Eccleston. “We’re looking for niche experience agents — with experience in home building and development — rather than opening the floodgates. We’ve had quite a few applicants, but we’re being very selective. Otherwise, it can be detrimental to the group.”
This is likely the kind of thinking that has helped their business survive.
As for their personal dating drama, the question begs to be asked. Are they currently a couple or not?
“You’ll have to tune in to the show to see,” Wiltshire responds, laughing.
Susan Doran is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has been contributing to REM since its very first issue.