It was a great day.  6 a.m. workout, first meeting at 8:30 and a few others after that, errands to run, a lobby bustling with customers.  The vibe in the office was great as we’re getting ready to close out another record year for this company that’s become so much more than I ever thought it would.

Then put on the brakes as Rachael asks me if I have time to visit with Willy Ortega.

Willy Ortega?

Yes, Willy Ortega, who I met during a short stint with Coldwell Banker while working their kiosk in the Killeen Mall.  It was 1996, I was three years in the business and he walked up with his wife and new baby and wanted to discuss investment property.  From that introduction, we found a duplex that they purchased, moved into, and then vacated when orders came down.  By the time they were transferring, I had left Coldwell and was busily working on my new fledgling start-up, IDC Realty.  He was literally one of my first management clients ever, amongst the initial 5-10 units I took responsibility for.  That was 20 years ago.

Fast-forward to this afternoon, and I’m in the courtyard with a contractor that I work with regularly, discussing the final coat of paint and new hinges on the doors to the building suites.  Willy walks in and smiles, I assume because he needed to get past us.  I had no idea who it was.  Funny in hindsight, we opened the door for him and he went in to discuss business with the staff.  It wasn’t until I finished that meeting and went back inside that Rachael came to my office to ask me if I had time to visit with him.

Of course I do!  And visit we did.  Willy is still my client and we still proudly manage his duplex that he’s now owned for 20 years.  We laughed and shared stories, realizing that we had to catch up on a period of time that involved marriages and divorces, job changes, numerous moves, highs and lows.  That baby they carried to the Kiosk is now serving in the U.S. Army in Korea.  Three more followed and now a 5th just arrived five months ago.  Willy marveled at the office we now occupy and reminded me that, when I was first starting out, I was working out of a 1-room suite in the Skyline Plaza on Florence Road.  He hadn’t seen me since those days and it’s a stark contrast.

Willy was in town because he bought a new investment property.  He was here because he needed to make sure, before he closed, that we would manage it.  He told me he wasn’t going to buy it if we wouldn’t agree to manage the property, that he doesn’t trust anyone else to handle it.  After twenty years as a client, he won’t own a property unless we’ll run it for him.

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.  Yes, I love having a nice building.  Yes, I love having a lobby full of customers on a Tuesday afternoon.  Yes, I love knowing that we’re closing out our strongest year ever and that 2018 will almost certainly be even better.  But there’s nothing like acknowledgment on this level.  There is no higher praise I can receive as a Real Estate Broker than for the services that my company offers to be regarded as indispensable.  To know that Willy isn’t alone amongst clients that have been with us for 10, 15, and yes, 20 years.  To know that there are dozens of other Brokers out there who offer the same type of service yet won’t be considered.  To receive this compliment not from a major investor but from a retired soldier who bought his first home from me.  To know that we’ve been fortunate enough to hire and develop a staff that carries forth our values, and treats every client like they are the sun and stars.  Because they are.

This is what success feels like.  It’s not the money; it’s when a client of 20 plus years walks in, hugs you, and reminds you that you’re doing it right.  Thank you, Willy, for stopping by today and brightening up my whole week.  You have no idea how much that meant, and I’m honored to have you as a client and friend.  Here’s to another 20 years!

M