Mississauga mortgage office opens doors for hiring

Fortress Distribution Services (FDS) may have just officially opened its Mississauga office on Tuesday night, but the space is already rapidly filling up.

“I was expecting that this office would be good enough for the next two or three years,” FDS president Zafar Khawajah told YourMississaugaBiz.com. “But I’m already feeling that I don’t have any more space to add more people.”

Staff started moving in to the new 6,000 square foot second floor office on Traders Boulevard on December 3. However, Khawajah said the company’s rapid growth in the last two years has led to steady hiring, including a new person just this past Monday.

FDS also is looking to hire four or five more people in various departments in the upcoming weeks. “We prefer people with a financial services background,” Khawajah said. “We work in a really highly-regulated industry and we have to be compliant. It’s really important to make sure we follow everything.”

FDS is a wholesale firm designated by Centro Mortgage Inc. to market the syndicate mortgage investment product “Fortress Real Capital.”

A syndicate mortgage is a type of investment that gives investors protection on their principal with a fixed term and predetermined interest rate. In this licensed financial transaction, it is typical for investors to join others to lend to profitable large scale real estate developments all over Canada.

The company president stressed potential hires also had to be service-oriented due to FDS’ network of more than 250 brokers.

Khawajah said a lot of the work of his staff is doing presentations and going out to trade shows to educate people on what the products are. “We are the pioneers, we launched syndicate mortgage into the market,” he said. “Once they understand it, they love it.”

FDS has worked with condo developer Brad J. Lamb in the past and is currently in discussion with local developers. “It’s a very hard place to find projects in Mississauga because the land is very scarce,” he said.

In addition to raising capital, a major part of the two-year-old business is providing marketing services to financial advisors. “We do customized marketing campaigns for them because this is a very unique business model and we have to train them,” Khawajah explained. “We also help them extend their market with a lot of B2B and B2C marketing to expand their business.”

At the company’s official grand opening on Tuesday night, there were approximately 200 guests, including Mayor Hazel McCallion and Ward 5 councillor Bonnie Crombie.  The event came after a year and a half of planning and a previous office at 90 Emerald Boulevard in Malton.

Khawajah explained his office also has regular visits from financial advisors because they are integral to raising capital for Fortress through investments from brokers. “Our real clients are those financial advisors and financial brokerages,” he said.

While the company is headquartered in Richmond Hill, Khawajah said that the new office is conveniently located five minutes away from his Mississauga home. “I love Mississauga,” said the resident of seven years. “And I love the environment here.”

More than 80 percent of FDS’ staff also live nearby, something Khawajah said is intentional. “We try to focus our hiring staff that live in this area because it’s easy and that’s one of the reasons people will stay with you,” he said. “Because it’s an easy commute.”

Prior to Fortress, Khawajah had been in the financial services industry for 16 years.

FDS has opened offices in Halifax and Calgary. The company currently has commercial real estate projects in Markham, Oakville, Pickering, downtown Toronto, Calgary, Regina, as well as three in Brampton. “And we’re looking for more,” Khawajah said.

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