Building a Real Estate Empire

10/31/18  |  Rebecca Perez  |  682 views


Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Charles and Julien Duchesne-Gariepy are not your typical millennials. The two brothers have had the entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. They were inspired by their grandfather Marcel Duchesne, an industrialist in the building materials sector who made his mark in Quebec. Together, Julien and Charles are on a mission to create more inspiring, intelligent and sustainable living environments. 

They started and funded their own real estate project, Giantonio located in the heart of Villeray at the Saint-Hubert / Castelnau intersection. Julien is RBQ certified, and started his own construction company at just 18 years old called KingsBoro Construction. “We started in the residential side, now we work with the city on various projects  specializing in infrastructures and cement work.” Some of his recent projects include the Biodome and Park John F Kennedy. I don’t have 30 years of experience but my team does as they’ve been in the industry for longer than me. “They’ve got white hairs to prove it”, he laughs.

Charles : I had the opportunity to start working early with my mother Josée as a broker and then got my experience elsewhere by working with one of the largest logistics real estate owners in Canada where I touched everything from property leasing to development.

How did Giantonio come to life ?

It’s been about two years that we’ve been talking about buying something together. “I put a deadline, and he found the building right away.” says Julien.

Giantonio is a residential condominium project of 16 doors ; 15 two-bedroom apartments,(1 one bedroom), 8 penthouse units with 17 feet clear height ceilings on two levels. Underground parking. With 2 commercial units on ground floor with store front. 60 feet facade and 12 feet clear height on 3,000 sqft. 

We wanted to start with one lot but already we acquired three lots on our first project. Industrial is interesting for us. Our plan is to start with residential and build our way up. 

What challenges did you face as an entrepreneur ?

Charles : I had to leave my secure job with benefits, from day to night. That was a huge move for me. It happened this past April. (Which is the same month they purchased their first project). Advice ? Go get outside experience and then it will give you the tools to start your own

Julien : I had the opposite effect - it’s hard with cash flow / certain clients don’t pay on time. That’s why I’m actually trying to bring him in on this lifestyle. 

There’s days where I’m like maybe I should give this up, but then six months later I realize how much I love it. It usually happens when a team member leaves, or clients take time to pay, that’s when it gets hard.

What is your company vision ? 

Charles : To bring a change in Montréal sceneries. That is always my goal. I am a proud Montrealer born and raised here and here to stay! Eventually we’ll build in Florida for our retirement. 

Julien : or even before our retirement. My goal is to be specialized in infrastructure, keep doing big cement projects and growing the company. 

Do you remember closing your first deal ? 

Julien : Yes. It was client I was really excited about was a family friend, it was on St Paul street in front of the Bonsecours market. We did the entire cement work for that street. It was my first big mandate. It was part of my portfolio and it allowed me to get Hydro Quebec and other bigger clients from it. I was 20 at the time. 

Charles : At 18 years old, I had just finished my license. My first transaction, it was for a rental. It was for a woman who was selling her home and going into a rental, to avoid the beach adds / stress from it. It was interesting. Then it became transactional. 

Age was definitely a downfall. You have to prove yourself a lot more because you don’t have the experience to back you. 

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs ?

Charles : “Frapper sur le même clou” once you find what you love stay in the same industry and repeat until you become the best at it.

Julien : Just don’t give up. I had pressure from my parents because I didn’t go to university, because I already had contracts and clients by then. I made that choice to grow my business and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So if you find that I would say to keep going and not give up on your goals / vision. 

What does success represent to you ?

Charles : We can both agree that it’s about building a legacy. 

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