Corporate Head Office

Reimer Construction Limited of Burlington Ontario previously located at 5500 North Service Road, Burlington has moved its offices and is now located at:

33 Summerdale Place
Ancaster, Ontario. Canada
L9G 4A5

T: (905)304-1971
F: (905)304-9171
E: kevin@reimercountry.com

 

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The History of Rudy Reimer and Reimer Construction Limited

Few people know the inspiring story behind Rudy Reimer, a developer who has so transformed the landscape of Burlington it's been dubbed ‘Reimer Country'. Reimer is the multi-millionaire developer of prestigious residential homes and award winning commercial complexes that line the Queen Elizabeth Way from Burlington to Oakville.

How Reimer achieved this position of power and influence is one of the most intriguing inspiring stories you're ever likely to read.

Rudy Reimer

The Reimer odyssey began in the Ukraine where he was born into a Mennonite German family that spoke a Low German dialect, similar to Dutch. At school, Reimer had to learn Russian in order to understand classroom instruction. His linguistic journey was to also include German and eventually English.

As members of a religious minority in the Ukraine, the Reimer family was subjected to persecution, and this was to intensify with the outbreak of World War II. Russian forces periodically removed family members from their home for questioning. Jail terms often followed. Many were never seen again.

“Then,” Reimer recalls, “I was still very young when the Germans came marching in. They told us: ‘You're Germans – you're coming with us,' and we were taken to Germany.” The last 200 miles of the journey was on foot across rough terrain.

“I can remember walking past Dresden and through Berlin when they were being bombed,” he recalls nearly 40 years later during an interview in his office. “What I remember most is how those cities lit up as they were bombed, and how they glowed,” he added

Although a peaceful Mennonite, Reimer's father, Peter, was forced to join the German army – the alternative was a bullet to the head – and was sent to the Russian front. In the dying months of the war, Peter Reimer was captured by the Russians. When questioned, he answered in German, then Russian. This proved to be a near fatal mistake. He was accused of being a spy and a shot was fired at his head. The bullet passed through his hat. Having cheated death, he was allowed to live and was sent to a Russian Gulag in Siberia. “We didn't even know that he had been captured,” Reimer recalled.

A young boy with his mother Anna and sisters Frida and Mary Anne, the Reimers were caught up in the confusion of the immediate post war Berlin. The Russian occupiers questioned Anna and she made the same mistake as her husband – she answered in Russian. She was immediately taken away for further questioning. A prominent relative secured her temporary release, but instead of returning for further questioning the next morning, Anna decided to take her children and escape from the Russian Sector. “My mother knew what would have happened had she returned for questioning,” Reimer asserted.

Escaping the Russian Sector was not easy at all. Anna walked in the dark until they found the train station. They hid in the bushes, and when the train pulled into the station they crawled under slowly moving box cars, emerging on the side where the doors were located. “My mother knocked on one of the doors, it opened and we were pulled inside,” Reimer recollects.

“We were relieved, but then the door was wrenched open and a guard pointed a gun at us. He said he didn't remember us getting on the train and demanded a passenger count. One of the men in the boxcar said that there would be no counting because we were all legally on board. The guard shrugged and left. It was the last obstacle before reaching the safety of West Berlin.”

Once they were safely in what was then West Germany, Reimer began to catch up on life. He excelled in school, skipping a few grades, but the journey was far from over. After a few years, the family immigrated to Canada and integrated into a small Mennonite community in Vineland, Ontario.

Soon after settling down, the family discovered that Peter Reimer was alive in a Russian prison. The Mennonite congregation assisted Anna to gain a meeting with Russian leader Nikita Khruschev during his 1962 visit to the USA. Direct intervention by Kruschev resulted in the release of Peter Reimer after almost two decades in prison. The Reimers were a reunited family.

By this time, young Rudy Reimer had started a construction company and was fast establishing himself as an innovative and successful businessman. He was doing something that he later would make into one of the Reimer Rules for Success – he was doing something he enjoyed! He enjoyed working on homes.

The start of the company came after a few years of working in all aspects of residential construction. Rudy Reimer gained “hands on” understanding and appreciation for all stages, from blue print to finished product.

In the late 50's he worked for a contractor in the Vineland area, doing everything from painting basements to laying kitchen tiles. Then before turning 20, he went into business as a sub-contractor working for the same contractor. “I was able to do the work at a lower cost and I doubled the money I was making,” he recalls.

It wasn't long before he became a general contractor, taking over the business of retiring C.P. Unrau. He didn't have much capital, but he did have a reputation and someone who believed in this ambitious young man. It was Robert Johnson, president of the Penn Cashway in Grimsby, who had told Reimer that he would help him get started.

As Reimer recalls, “He told me that if there was anything I ever needed, to contact him. So I went to him and asked him to lend me $250,000! He wrote a cheque for the amount and handed it to me. He then told me that it was his retirement money, so if I blew it, he'd have worked all his life for nothing! I paid him back within six months, plus 6% interest.”

It was this well placed confidence in the Reimer business philosophy that gave impetus to a person who would make an indelible imprint on the S.W. Ontario urban landscape.

Building largely in the Grimsby area, he constructed starter, move-up and retirement homes for repeat customers.

Reimer went on to build 500 homes across the Niagara and Hamilton area, including the homes of prominent doctors and dentists, and the Auch Mar neighborhood on Hamilton Mountain.

At the start of the 1960's serviced land was scarce in the Grimsby area but Reimer had several developments in Burlington. Grimsby’s loss was Burlington’s gain.

He built a number of executive homes in the Tyandaga area of the City, including his own palatial home. A 1970 open house drew more than 12,000 visitors, police control and a great deal of publicity.

Living in a Reimer built home is one of Rudy Reimer's trademarks. He has actually lived in 30 houses since starting in the business and often sells his personal homes fully furnished. His current home, The Plantation, features a 3,000 sq.ft. bedroom! That is larger than most homes.

The start of the 1970's saw a change in focus. Reimer had built more than 2,000 residential homes and was ready for a new challenge. Encouraged by the City of Burlington, he took on commercial development. He built an office and warehousing building on Mainway at Blair Road. Next came a commercial building housing the Royal Bank, on Harvester east of Guelph Line.

Reimer had now become a full service developer, acquiring raw land, servicing it, and developing it, financing and promoting the development and selling the finished product. He also manages and leases some commercial complexes. “This is the way we continue to do business,” Reimer explains. “When you can do the whole thing, you can make more money down the line.”

In 1990, Reimer started the construction of the impressive office towers off Burloak Drive where the Headquarters of Reimer Construction are located. Many Reimer buildings have been sold to investors which in turn he manages. Today he manages millions of dollars of real estate assets.

Reimer attributes his company's enduring success to his staff, his investors, his tenants and the people who have believed in him and supported his career over the years. Adding value to his work is another attribute. “I think one of the reasons we have been successful is that we always try to exceed expectations.”