Meet Tony Flanz, president & CEO of Think Retail

Meet Tony Flanz, president & CEO of Think Retail

For Tony Flanz, real estate is in his blood. Flanz’s Dad is a general contractor, his Mom was a highly regarded real estate broker, his sister is in real estate financing and, more than 50 years ago, his Grandfather built a strip shopping centre on Montreal’s South Shore. It was there that the founder of Think Retail got his first taste of retail real estate—at the age of 18 Flanz was collecting rent and by age 20 he started leasing the family’s centre.

It’s fair to say Flanz was hooked—he recalls the joy of making connections and helping business owners realize their dreams—and he soon abandoned plans to pursue law, instead enrolling in first real estate course at just 21.

The rest is, as they say, history. Flanz cut his teeth at the Montrose Group and after a year and a half moved over to Morguard, where he was leasing director for more than six years before joining Presud, which was taken over by Olympia and York.It was here that Flanz met the esteemed Brenda Campbell, who he calls “one of the best in the leasing business” and an invaluable mentor, who taught the ‘relationship/sales guy’ about the technical/financial side of the transaction. By the mid-1990s, Flanz was ready for a change. 

“I loved real estate and leasing, but I always thought it was more attractive to lease for the tenant,” he recalls of his decision to use his experience and insights from the landlord side of the business to work with retail tenants, helping them find the ideal locations from which grow and succeed. “I wanted to do something I could feel really good about.”

Flanz signed his first client—Bizou—in 1997 and 25 years later, Flanz is proud to say that his first client is still his client. Flanz has a reputation for cultivating close client relationships and many of those clients he now calls friends. Initially, Flanz worked at SVP at one of the country’s major firms, helping build that brand for more than six years before deciding it was time to hang his own shingle. In 2005, Flanz founded Think Retail and he’s never looked back. Today, Think Retail is one of the top brokerages in the country with a stellar reputation and national leasing reach that includes regional malls, super regional malls, large open-airand outlet centres as well as, the country’s most sought-after high streets. 

“We have developed this company that people look to as a leader,” says Flanz, who reports on the Quebec market for the highly acclaimed Consumer Real Estate Canada monthly conference call. “We are respected and respectful—when we say we are going to do something, we do it. I am highly motivated to ensure my clients are successful and I have the expertise and connections to make sure they are.”Those clients include local brands that got their start in Flanz’s hometown of Montreal, such as Rock’n Deli and Foodtastic, as well some the world’s most high-profile retailers—Fossil, Carter’s Osh Kosh, Desigual, Columbus Cafe & Co, Le Creuset, Shinola, Pinkberry, Sherwin Williams, Jeff de Bruges, Change Lingerie, Oscar Wylee, Merrell and Filson to name a few. Flanz has personally guided many of these super brands on their Canadian market entry and successful expansion. “I carefully select my clients and limit the number to 15 so as to work with innovative retailers who are best-in-class and offer great synergy, not only with my own vision, but also each other,” says Flanz. “Think Retail is laser-focused on delivering the ‘big-fish’ experience to clients—here you never got lost in the crowd.”As president and CEO, Flanz has a vested interest in his clients’ business and is known for being available evenings, weekends and more—whenever and wherever his clients need him. “I am as hungry today as I was when I started this company 17 years ago. My clients know they can rely on me for the best insights, as well as hands-on, innovative and results-driven service.”

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