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Industry veteran, Don Frederiksen, retires after multifacted 60-year career

It’s with “very mixed emotions” that Don Frederiksen, Campbell River, British Columbia-based realtor, retires.

The Parallel 50 broker is possibly the longest-standing B.C.-licensed realtor, at over 60 years. He has several decades of experience in real estate areas including subdivisions, rezoning, tax appeals, strata and tax shelter investment.

 

Frederiksen’s unexpected journey

 

Originally, Frederiksen was a journeyman cabinet maker. After coming down with severe mono (mononucleosis), he couldn’t go back to work and so decided to complete a bachelor of communications degree. He began with the real estate extension first, getting his license in July 1963 and then becoming the youngest member of what’s now the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver when he started.

Although, in his words, the late 1980s were “brutal” and the 1990s “tough”, Frederiksen survived both (barely, he says). Thankfully, he had the benefit of good teachers in the industry to help him.

Along the way, he “tried to never take myself too seriously, but I did always try to do the best possible job I could on any project I worked on,” he reflects. “I can’t really figure (out) where all the time went. I guess I was just having too much fun.”

 

“Real estate opened many doors for me”

 

“I will miss the challenges of the real-life game of Monopoly. I have tried and done a lot, including corporate and project management, construction, renovations, subdivisions, strata conversions and working with First Nations,” Frederiksen says. “It was interesting, frustrating, rewarding — but never dull.”

Frederiksen enjoyed the challenges of projects but not the limelight perception of success. He says he worked with some great and influential people in Vancouver, who taught him a lot. “But, I always referred to myself as their gopher and even went so far as to put that on my license plate for a number of years (BCGO4).”

Marty Douglas, an advisor with the British Columbia Real Estate Association who previously worked with the BC Financial Services Authority and the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, has long been involved in the political side of the business. Frederiksen says they’ve had some interesting exchanges over the years and, although he often disagreed with his opinions, he always admired Douglas’ persuasive abilities.

“Don is one of the ‘colonists’ of the real estate industry in B.C., living to tell the tale of his more than 50 years as a licensee, lately as a managing broker on Vancouver Island,” Douglas mentions. “In 48 years as a licensee, I had only two blots on my discipline copybook, both my fault. In one case it was Don who turned me in — and rightfully so. I regret that I won’t be able to return the favour but happy for his retirement.”

So, after a varied and dynamic career, what won’t he miss? “Trying to work with the government in logically dealing with real estate issues. Working with them is kind of like trying to push a rope,” Frederiksen expresses. “I have tried many times (in) many ways to improve on the rules and public protection in the game.”

 

A mentor and leader “with a wealth of information … always very willing to lend his support and knowledge”

 

Though Frederiksen worked primarily on his own for many years, the owner of Parallel 50, Dale Mailman, worked with him since 2018. Frederiksen helped Mailman develop his business and mentored him to get his broker’s license and become broker for his company. Once this was accomplished in October this year, Frederiksen says, it was time to move on.

Mailman tells his story: “I purchased the brokerage, O.J. Realty and Property Management, in October 2018. Don was the managing broker at the time and was gracious enough to carry on working with me. From that time on, Don was a wealth of information and has always been very willing to lend his support and knowledge. His background in real estate is quite aligned with what I have been involved in and we found that we worked well together.”

After Mailman purchased the brokerage from the previous owner, O.J. Gorringe, she became ill and Frederiksen jumped in. “We recruited a new real estate salesperson and Don was amazing as a mentor to her — in fast order, she became a top producer under his tutelage.”

Mailman feels Frederiksen was very supportive and helpful as he got the education he needed to move forward.

About Frederiksen’s exit from the business, he shares, “Don worked with me over the last year in preparation for this transition, ensuring that I’m ready to take the reins as managing broker. His experience and support will be missed.”

Frederiksen has also made huge contributions to Gorringe’s career: “Don was invaluable to me,” she says. “His experience was totally necessary for me as a new realty owner.”

Gorringe also points out his habit of “poking the tiger” (the tiger being “council and more”, she says). “(This) scared me, but with his knowledge, it was just a way of life to him. He really knows more than the people running the system.”

For Gorringe, all in all, Frederiksen “became a good friend as well as a great broker for me and my company. I miss working with him.”

 

Adapting and growing the business

 

“COVID was a difficult time for property management,” Mailman shares. “We learned a new way of working, with (Don) working from his home office in support. (He) is very open to new technology and ways to manage, so he adapted well to this new work environment.”

They grew the brokerage and, in September 2020, opened another location in Port Hardy, B.C. Mailman says the rental management side of the brokerage grew from about 175 units to 800 units under management.

“Don’s experience in business management, analysis and growth was beneficial in this. We also went through two (other) property management portfolio acquisitions, one in February 2020 and the other in March 2022. Both of these acquisitions went quite smoothly. Don’s experience, support and calm hand made these transitions happen.”

 

What’s next

 

Frederiksen is most looking forward to less headaches, more time with his wife, Dodie (shown with him in the above photo), fishing and spending time in Hawaii — along with whatever next interesting business opportunity or challenge that comes along.

”Here I am, 81, retired and seriously looking for another challenge,” he points out. He’s already been asked to take care of a subdivision project, which he’s considering, but “my wife and Hawaii come first,” Frederiksen stresses. “Dodie has been the biggest blessing in my life – she is a fantastic woman – 55 years she has put up with me. She drives me crazy – I love her madly.”

Regardless of his plans, Mailman will continue to turn to Frederiksen for advice, as he is “always looking for future opportunities to expand the rental management portfolio through both organic growth and potential acquisitions. While Don may not be licensed as my broker, I will continue to rely on him as a trusted advisor with his business management experience.”

Frederiksen shares that he may or may not write a book on his life in real estate — “the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the many, many stories”. Stay tuned.

In the short term, he says it’s “time to sit back and watch the circus — for now.”

 

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