James Risdon, Business in Vancouver, 1995
Urban cowboys are snatching up ranchland within a five-hour drive of Vancouver.
Waiting to sell it to them is Rudy Nielsen, the land developer who heads New Westminster-based NIHO Land & Cattle Company Ltd. and LandQuest Realty Corp.
In some cases, the urbanites who head for the hills take their role playing very seriously.
"I know a group of guys who have this land and a trailer on it and every Friday night they leave and put on red shirts, tight jeans, cowboy boots and big hats," said Nielsen. "Then, come Monday morning, they're back in the business world with their fancy suits."
Either way, they pay the prices to live out their Wild West weekends on their own land.
NIHO and LandQuest (established by Nielsen and two new partners, Richard Osbourne and Mike Riesterer) have quintupled revenues over the past three years. Nielsen will not divulge exact revenues, but said things are growing by "leaps and bounds."
"We've just finished [developing] about 900 acres in the Chilcotin," said Nielsen. "We've got one parcel there with a two bedroom cabin, a 6,000 foot airstrip and about 795 acres that we call Maxwell Creek Ranch."
When BIV first profiled him in late 1994, Nielsen's company would typically log a parcel and sell it off in smaller lots for between $6,000 and $30,000 each. That was then.
Nielsen now buys logged land, replants and develops cabin sites, puts in a road, and sells off much larger parcels. Still, there are smaller and more affordable parcels to be had. For example, on the east side on the Coquihalla highway between Merritt and Hope, NIHO now has four properties ranging from 30 to 40 acres and priced between $49,000 and $95,000.
Nielsen's two sons, Darin and Dean, are the brains behind the companies' powerful computer network. With it, Nielsen has launched yet another company, International Land Network, to oversee the company's sales-oriented Web site. There are also plans to launch a real estate related information company called Landcor Data Corp., but Nielsen is keeping mum about that for now.