FirstService wants to be first when it comes to real estate services. The company has subsidiaries that provide commercial property brokerage, management, and maintenance services, primarily in the US, Canada, and Australia. Its Colliers International network is one of the largest global brokerages with more than 1 billion sq. ft. of commercial space under management. FirstService Residential Property Management oversees more than 1.3 million units in some 5,300 low- and mid-rise properties in the US and Canada. Its Property Services arm offers home repair and other services such as painting and home storage installation.
FirstService combined its FirstService Real Estate Advisors unit with Colliers International in 2010. The merger created one of the largest real estate services firms in the world. The combined firm operates under the Colliers International name and operates in more than 60 countries. In 2012 FirstService expanded upon the deal and acquired the UK operations of Colliers International, which provides real estate services across Europe.
The company's diverse global footprint and its variety of services has helped it endure the challenges posed by the economic downturn. By 2010 Colliers International began to benefit from the commercial real estate recovery in places such as the Americas and Asia Pacific. Economic recovery coupled with FirstService's cost cutting helped the company's commercial real estate division as whole increase revenues by more than 35% in 2010.
The company typically grows through acquisitions, racking up about a dozen smaller firms each year. In 2010 Colliers International acquired a stake in Chicago firm Colliers Bennett & Kahnweiler, which manages 50 million sq. ft. of commercial space. It bought Gittleman Management, one of the largest residential property managers in Minnesota, the following year.
Also in 2010, FirstService entered the Canadian residential property market with its acquisitions of Alberta's Condominium First and British Columbia's Crosby Property Management. The following year FirstService expanded its residential property management operations in Canada again with the acquisitions of Vancouver Condominium Services and Simerra Property Management, making it the country's largest residential property manager. The company plans to continue expanding in Canada.
CEO Jay Hennick started FirstService as a small pool maintenance company in Toronto while still a high school student.