Working from home can offer great flexibility and convenience, but Cory Stewart experienced the downsides early in her sales career firsthand: always being in work mode, a disconnect from colleagues, the lack of collaboration and battling distractions at home. As a long-time electronic component sales representative who often worked at home, she travelled from client to client, forced to use their boardrooms and offices for meetings as she did not have a professional space of her own locally.
Stewart was visiting a client in a great Class A building at the crossroads of Highway 1 and Highway 2 and noticed that after the 2009 financial crisis, the building was sparsely occupied. It planted a seed which took root and blossomed into a wonderfully crazy plan: to open an executive business centre there to cater to people like her who wanted a better experience than a home office could offer.
“I knew so many people who were in my shoes; people who were looking for office space who didn’t have people in the office very often,” says Cory Stewart, founder and president of Smart Executive Centre. “It was about putting myself in the position of my clients because I was that client who was always looking for a homebase.”
Stewart leased 4,600 square feet of office space on the ground floor of that fantastic building at 19 Street and 18 Avenue NE, and Smart Executive Centre quickly attracted a diverse group of entrepreneurs and professionals. It’s a vibrant, booming business district close to the airport and a stone’s throw from downtown with ample free parking that eliminates the hassle and cost of parking in the core. And best of all, it offers spectacular views of Calgary’s skyline and the Rocky Mountains.
Over the years, the Centre grew as its clients expanded their businesses and more like-minded tenants signed up to rent space. Smart Executive Centre has continued to annex more space in the building, first nearly doubling its footprint on the main level and then adding 5,700 square feet upstairs and recently renovating another 7,600 square feet across the hall that is now available for rental. The resulting 22,000 square feet and 85 offices that make up Smart Executive Centre provide everything a tenant could hope for.
“We have clients that are growing and hiring, and I’ve been at capacity for quite a long time now. It’s time to take that leap of faith,” Stewart says. “Corporations that utilized traditional head lease offices gave them up during COVID or perhaps they don’t need a bookkeeper or sales to come in every day, still need a presence and homebase and we offer that.”
Smart Executive Centre can accommodate any level of need for clients, whether that is a virtual tenant who uses the Centre for their professional address and occasionally books an office or boardroom or a busy business with multiple employees working together. For many clients, the standard 10×10 office works great while others with a larger operation opt for the 280-square-foot offices or combine a few to accommodate their staff. Stewart knows every business is different and she welcomes tenants to customize their spaces to better meet their needs. One new business operating in the expansion incorporated offices and a private boardroom in their space to facilitate collaboration and while the Centre provides quality furniture, other tenants have brought in their own furniture and accessories to make the space better reflect their businesses. Tenants should feel at home in their space, and Stewart and her team of four go above and beyond to ensure that they do.
In addition to the top-of-the-line office equipment and conference technology, large boardrooms and smaller meeting rooms, breakout spaces and touchdown stations that allow businesses to run, it’s the details that make Smart Executive Centre special. An onsite gym makes it easy for tenants to stay healthy and a daycare in the building offers a great option for working parents.
Within the Centre, the inviting kitchens are a great place for tenants to take a break, catch up on the news of the day, and chat over the premium coffee, tea or filtered and chilled water provided by the Centre. With power under every table, tenants can plug in and work from anywhere. There’s more to life than work, so the Centre included comfortable lounge spaces as well as outdoor decks and patios to encourage tenants to relax and make connections during a busy work day. Stewart also brings everyone together for potlucks, lunch-and-learns and fundraisers to create a community in the space.
“We have such a great group of clients and we’re very fortunate to have an environment where people work together really well. I love it when I see our lawyers talking with our accountants talking to our software people. There is a real energy again and a true sense of community,” she says.
After all, Stewart set out to offer clients much more than just real estate. She wanted to become part of the tenants’ teams and to support the evolving needs of today’s clients. On top of answering calls and collecting mail, the staff is also available for everything from preparing expense reports to data entry to manning a tradeshow booth. Technology is kept up to date and redundant internet prevents disruptions and guarantees clients are always connected. If any issues do arise, an IT tenant that provides its services to the Centre is on hand to address and fix problems.
There is no such word as “no” at Smart Executive Centre, and Cory Stewart and her dedicated team are committed to doing whatever they can to help their clients succeed. It’s common for the team to plan and cater meetings and events, assist tenants with technology and even offer concierge services that involve everything from purchasing gifts to securing dinner reservations.
Whether clients are virtual, individual professionals or part of a growing company, the team at Smart Executive Centre takes care of the details so their tenants can take care of business.
#115, 1925 18 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 7T8
(403) 457-4700 | smartexecutive.ca