I’ve visited 92 countries, and Canada is the best of them all,” Rana said, emphasizing that the “best thing about Canada is Canadians. They treat me so nice
Peter C Newman wrote stunning Canadian books exploring the Old Establishment of Canadian “titans” – the leaders and visionaries of industry and great enterprises who dominate the economy; and then he wrote of the new class of 21st century titans, the globe-hopping new Canadians who build corporate world empires.
Now, as the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, we’re seeing an entirely new breed of titans start to emerge: new immigrants who immigrate here under economic rules.
New wealthy Chinese, Indians, Sri Lankans, even Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, flood into Canada – particularly the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver – with lots of cash and generous spirits and strong ties to their country of origin. And they’re transforming everything Canadian, from politics to neighborhoods to economic realities.
Emerging economies such as China, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa – but also places like Nigeria, Bangladesh, Jamaica and Vietnam and the Filipino wealthy – pour their investments into Canada. Real Estate is their favorite playground.
Durham Region is seeing astonishing rise in Real Estate prices because of this enormous influx of global wealth, as the emerging nations transfer their hefty bank accounts to places where they see mirage of aesthetic lifestyles, like Canada.
Welcome to Ajax, still not a designated city, but yet a thriving hub of international investors becoming residents with strong voices of advocacy, activism, and foreign investments buying up local property. Apart from the scores of people cashing out with soaring house prices in Toronto to move to Durham Region with its relatively cheap properties, foreigners are eyeing the geographical and demographic advantages of Durham: they are investing in investment rental properties across the region, from Courtice, Bowmanville and Oshawa, to Pickering and Ajax and Whitby. They are transforming the region into a sudden wealth hub.
Enter MD Tarekh Rana, a fascinating character who is transforming Ajax with a sense of passion, vision – and an endearing humility, politeness and courtesy.
Rana comes from a wealthy background in West Bengal, Kolkota, India. His name, Rana, means Landlord, he says, and the family got the name because his foreparents always owned property in India as rentals. Rana himself inherited property from his father, and learned to manage Real Estate to the extent that he built a thriving Indian business, employing today 30,000+ workers in Kolkota.
He migrated to Canada five years ago, with an agreement to transfer his Indian company’s ownership shares to employees 2021. He’s an amazing man.
The Millionaire Mindset magazine interviewed Rana at his glass-enclosed Boardroom at G-Place, his building on Hardwood Road in Ajax, and his story makes for incredibly interesting reading.
He’s a man who knows how to invent his dream, not unlike F Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. Rana even converted his first name, Mohamed, into a tantalizing, mysterious acronym, MD: he goes MD Tarekh Rana, instead of Mohamed Tarekh Rana. Such ingenious ways mark him as a different leader, a bold, audacious, inventive mind.
Born in March, 1967 into a family of generational Indian landlords, Rana came to Canada in 2012 to meet the then love of his life, a Bangladeshi woman he had met in India, who migrated to Canada. His first visit to Canada was to come visit her. So mesmerized and in love was Rana that he named his Canadian company after her initials, and her year of birth. His company is SJ71 Company Limited.
In 2011, on Valentines Day, on his trip to see the love of his life, Rana fell ill in Ontario. As visitor, he could not access OHIP, but when he went to the walk-in clinic, the doctor gave him free medication. It touched his heart. He fell in love with Canada.
“I’ve visited 92 countries, and Canada is the best of them all,” Rana said, emphasizing that the “best thing about Canada is Canadians. They treat me so nice.”
So he went back to India, and came back on 28th of December, 2012, deciding to look for real estate investments. “In 2013, I came back five times,” he said, noting that he registered his company, SJ71, that same year. In 2014, he bought a home in Pickering and moved to Canada, handing over his India business to his adopted daughter.
Rana excels in Durham. Today, he owns a brand under his SJ71 company. He named his ‘G’ brand after his spiritual guide, the Iranian Islamic master, Sayyid Abd al-Qadir Gillani Gasus Pak. “He’s my religious guru and he’s all about humanity, “ Rana said.
Rana believes in spiritual principles, and considers numerology and even colors with deep consideration. “My colors in my logo are significant: the four colors are white, for purity; navy blue for principle and character; light blue for being accommodating and humble; and black, which represents a strong base,” he said, noting that the numerology in his company’s name, SJ71, is “8, which is the strongest numerical symbol in the world”.
This is the soul of the man who “wants to change the face of Durham”.
Rana impresses everybody who crosses his path. This writer heard from him from Sherry Colbourne, the CEO of Spark Center, Durham Region’s innovation hub. Colbourne spoke of him with glowing admiration, and that pattern repeats with everybody who met him – which is a who’s who of Ontario, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford on his campaign trail before the Provincial elections.
Rana says things like, “I believe when you live in a place, you should be proud of it; and when you leave the place, it should be proud of you”, and “without a dream, life is nothing”.
So he’s got a dream for this little town, Ajax, tucked into Durham, this thriving, bustling little place sandwiched among cities like Pickering and Oshawa. Rana’s dream is to transform Ajax into a hive of business, innovation and class.
He’s an astonishing human being, who transformed his mindset from a lost youth in Kolkota, India, to a successful global business tycoon. In fact, he only learned English in 2004, and his schooling is at Grade 10 level. He worked as busboy, waiter and pizza delivery driver in India before he made it big.
But then he had a hard upbringing, with his mother dying of diabetes when he was 17, and his father dying when he was 14, due to a severe brain hemorrhage. As an only child, he had to battle the world himself. And he learned not only to survive, but to thrive and become a runaway success, with a successful garment factory under his belt.
His mindset took a major transformation when he got married at 19 years of age, and his in-laws took him under their wings and taught him business, especially how to structure and manage a Kolkota property that his Dad had left to him, a 35,000 square feet rental property with tenants who were slack in their obligations to their landlord.
He learned to streamline the rental property as a business, and to develop from there. With no child of his own, he adopted a daughter – his cousin’s sister, and he raised her to be educated and successful.
When Rana moved to Pickering, divorced and single, he immediately saw the potential of the Durham Region for growth and development. “It’s geographically fertile, with the 401 running through it, and Lake Ontario, and the poor sister of Toronto”. Rana started thinking of the future of Canada, and saw how Durham could be ideal, situated at an ideal locale. “I felt the potential. I saw that from here you could drive all the way to Florida. Canada could only progress”.
He felt he could be a big player in Durham, and particularly Ajax, with its multicultural population, rich residents with high average incomes, and close proximity to Toronto. Now, as a seasoned Canadian businessman, he’s looking to bring “different industries” to Durham. “Ajax is home to a population that speaks 44 languages, immigrants from 100 countries, and 65% of Ajax’s youth make $67,000 a year. In south Ajax, the average household income is $95,000. Plus, Ajax has employment land, vacant land available for commercial development,” he said.
Rana speaks with excitement about Durham’s development projects – which include five international hotels – including a Marriott Courtyard, Hampton Inn and Suites, Best Western Plus, and a Marriot. Also, an extended care facility of 150,000 square feet is coming to Ajax, as well as two convention centers, each over 40,000 square feet. He expects three manufacturing enterprises, two retirement homes and other developments, with 500 to 1,000 jobs generated 2021 in the Region.
The charismatic businessman – a genius at the networking game – said he’s facilitated 53 new businesses to Ajax, with investments of over $300M, in Real Estate. His own investment, the G Center, has become a showpiece in Ajax, with an innovative business model to support small businesses.
Rana won the Ajax Emerging Entrepreneur Award for 2018, and dreams of making Durham “a self-sustaining community, with no need to depend on Toronto”. He dreams of bringing water taxis to Durham, and is working to convert the old Pump House on the waterfront in Whitinto an exclusively posh restaurant. “It will be the place to be in Durham, with 50 full time employees and 25 part-time”, he said, noting that his business philosophy is always to give a percentage of profits to charity. His business supports the Grandview Kids, a charity helping autism children.
Not content with all that, Rana said he is in talks with “three Chinese cities to bring investments to Durham, totaling $1.5 billion. From 2019 we’ll see Durham as the destination to be”.
“I came to Canada chasing the love of my heart, but fell in love with Canada,” he said, even though that romantic interest that brought him visiting here did not work out. Highlighting the point that he had built a company in India from half a million to 800 million rupees, he said he gave away 30% ownership to the employees. “The company is building a hospital for blind people, and also an Islamic school for girls to be educated and housed”.
Rana is an exceptional human being, and he’s re-designing the economic and political landscape of Durham, Ontario, and Canada. He easily rubs shoulders with politicians and community leaders, and made lots of friends with community leaders, supporting public-spirited citizens who jumped into the upcoming municipal elections.
He’s the new titan in a Canada that’s wide open to the world for business, and the emerging economies of the world are willingly investing huge capital into Real Estate projects in Durham, with people like Rana paving the way. Local leaders are only too willing to help the process.