Relationships forged through the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) figured prominently in Bill Garland’s multidisciplinary, cross-continental professional circle and among his lasting friends. His death, September 29, leaves many reflecting on his industry contributions, his camaraderie and his courage in facing a long and difficult illness.
A 35-year BOMA stalwart, Bill was a past president of BOMA Toronto and BOMA Canada and one of only two Canadians ever to serve as president of BOMA International, as well as a property manager and respected consultant specializing in building operations and cleaning services. Outside the workplace, he was a certified sommelier, a pilot, a race car enthusiast and an embracer of the outdoors, whether skiing, boating, golfing or tending to his farm in the Ottawa Valley.
“Bill was a connoisseur of everything he did, but he didn’t spread himself too thin,” says long-time friend Bill Stallan, an equally longstanding member of BOMA Toronto. “He could be hard-nosed and he was a man of few words, but he had a generous spirit. Among other things, BOMA is a big social club, and we all had such great times together.”
First joining BOMA Toronto in 1980, Bill served as chapter president from 1989-91. Next, his tenure as BOMA Canada vice president in 1991-93 provided his first exposure to BOMA International as the Canadian representative on the president’s advisory committee. During his term as BOMA Canada president, 1993-95, the association marked its 50th anniversary and Bill received the President’s Award for Outstanding Service from BOMA International.
Those years also cemented his friendship with his west coast peer, Wayne Smithies, president of Martello Property Services Inc.. The two met 25 years ago in Calgary at the inaugural BOMEX — BOMA Canada’s national conference and exposition — and were soon sharing board rooms and ski slopes.
“Bill was vice president when I was president of BOMA Canada. Our families would come to the networking events, and his boys met my son and they were all BOMA brats together,” Smithies recalls. “I have pictures on the wall of my new home in Whistler of Bill and his sons.”
Bill was the last BOMA International president to serve a two-year term, from 1997 to 1999. While closing out one millennium in that role, he remained a valued advisor into the next. Ann Coslett, BOMA International’s director of executive services, remembers him as something of a constant over her BOMA career.
“When I came to BOMA International 28 years ago, Bill was an active member of the leadership team. He was active on committees before becoming an officer and then the president. We soon developed a friendship which grew over the years and became solidified during the early stages of his illness,” she recounts. “Bill was always passionate about the relationship between BOMA Canada and BOMA International — working hard to improve that relationship. His contributions to BOMA International were critical to the development of the organization as it grew to what it is today.”
The same holds true for his home chapter. “We want to acknowledge the tremendous influence he had on many careers in the real estate industry,” affirms Susan Allen, president and chief staff officer of BOMA Toronto.
Professionally, Bill was president and owner of Daniels Associates Inc.’s Canadian operations. He was one of the earliest proponents of daytime cleaning, a practice now widely accepted in commercial buildings and credited with saving energy and boosting worker productivity.
He co-authored Office Building Cleaning Operations in North America and edited Cleaning Makes Cents, both publications that BOMA International commends for helping to increase property managers’ awareness of cleaning costs, innovation and the variables that affect service delivery. Bill’s concern for workers’ well-being is likewise evident in his writings over the years for Canadian Property Management where he tackled issues such as contractor responsibility, wage levels and the emergence of organized labour — maintaining that employers’ investment in reducing staff turnover would yield returns in morale, performance and customer satisfaction.
Training as a chemist led Bill to his initial career in the cleaning/janitorial sector, but Stallan suspects it also supported his ardent interest and vast knowledge of wine. Observers were invariably impressed with Bill’s ability to taste and identify the grape, country of origin and year of the vintage, while witnesses report even sommeliers on duty in restaurants would be drawn in to listen to Bill’s discussion of the wines on the menu.
“He had a huge cellar, himself, with incredible wines,” Stallan notes, yet recalls when Garland’s own ice wine was the unanimous crowd favourite at one of the many wine-tasting events he hosted for his friends.
Although he was less proficient at golf, Bill’s take-up of the game was in keeping with a history of rising to a challenge. “He really didn’t have the frame of mind to be a golfer, but that made him even more determined to prove the sceptics wrong,” Stallan says.
No doubt, he drew on the same tenacity in facing his illness. Donations in Bill’s honour can be made to CurePSP, a research and support hub for neurodegenerative diseases.