Chris Nickel is one who likes to think outside of the box. What is something that is innovative, will help people and hopefully change things for the better?
Having grown up in a family where home building was a part of life, what better roots does an innovative idea grow from, than with the support and now working cooperation and know-how of family?
Chris and his brother Dustin (BBA) are co-developers of Nickel Group Developments, a brand new building company which does builds custom homes, does commercial renovations as well as partake in some special developments. It is within this special development project realm where Chris expects the new family company to make some waves.
He says mortgage laws, taxes, land prices have made single family dwellings harder to come by and somewhat of obsolete idea for millennials (ages 23-38).
What they have in mind is large, high end 20-25 unit multi-family buildings which will feature major amenities including open concept "neutral" rooms to have the ability to host parties, various functions, or just quiet spaces away from it all; the ability to get in housekeeping to come in to clean dwellings; built in small businesses within the building like eateries or perhaps beautician type of businesses – all the while sharing it under one collective roof with like minded people who want this type of lifestyle allowing free access networking. Almost like a live-in hotel or as Nickel describes it, a luxury feel on a budget. He says these younger professionals want the million dollar homes, but have a budget at less than half of that.
Branding these multi-family developments as "New Luxury", the Nickel Group is targeting purchasing costs of up to $450,000. They use their decades of connections to help keep building costs lower.
These multi-family dwellings are targeted for smaller Alberta cities which they refer to as "surge centers". These smaller cities in which the millennial families would be drawn to according to Nickel is because of this generation’s desire for a smaller urban centre, but with all the big city amenities and opportunities minus the metropolitan negatives.
Amongst these surge cities include Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Okotoks, Grand Prairie and Fort McMurray, plus a few in the eastern interior of British Columbia including Kimberley.
"That age group wants to move to the surge centres so we're attacking those places," explains Nickel. "There's nothing in the price ranges in the bigger centres... surge centres are ready to explode, we want to give them another reason to explode.
"Our entire business model is to change the way young professionals look at multi-family buildings. We are going to attract a lot of younger families to this. Our thinking is 'build it and they will come.' We want the city of Medicine Hat to grow, we want Lethbridge to grow...
"We (the Nickel business partners/ management team) are our own brand. We are trying to solve a problem for ourselves."
Nickel explains millennials want larger more luxurious living right away and not want to wait to reach that goal. He says that his current leadership group was like his family and their start in the building industry. His family predecessors were successful because they solved a problem and met the demands of the market.
His group's mindset is that rate of inflation is going higher than the rate of a family income. The biggest obstacle obviously for this type of luxury living is affordability.
"We've heard too many times that in the surge centres there's nothing there they like, nothing here to move to," explains Nickel using Medicine Hat as an example. He says now that there are a variety of big businesses having arrived or are coming to Medicine Hat, "we need to capitalize on that. Move people around now as business comes, give them another option a bigger reason to do that, give them an opportunity. We're not here to take anything away from other builders, but there's a niché space with certain demographic this would work for; we've made a cultural demographic that wants this. They don't want to wait five or six flips to be able to do this...everything about our branding and research is that they want an (enjoyable living) experience; they don't want landscaping (duties). We have the opportunity to create amenity experience, they experience their culture within one building."
They are just starting a prototype in the Bowness area near the Bow River in Calgary. In Medicine Hat, the Nickel Group have worked with McInley Berkhart as well as worked with City of Medicine Hat and Invest Medicine Hat.
The plan is to start building in Medicine Hat in 2019.
"Our Nickel Group has been 50 years in the making," explains Chris who says from his grandfather on out have been involved and influential in the Alberta home building industry. He himself has been working in the industry in a variety of capacities including "We are carrying a legacy, the credibility and the history of learning to solve a problem,” stated Nickel who is a director of the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) of Medicine Hat and an award winning Masterbuilder.
Chris started working for his father’s construction company and learned from the very base what it takes to build a home.
Dave Nickel is the Project Manager has more than 40 years of building experience including operating a construction business. For more than 30 years owned and operated a successful construction business in Calgary and has built more than 1,000 homes across Western Canada.
Joel Jelinski B.Eng Chief Experience Officer (CXO) with Matt Strong in Accounting and Ryan Schindel LLB (External Legal Council) round out the core group. They have a website, but also are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagam and LinkedIn.