In 1991, I bought a small tract of property in Holmes County, Mississippi, and sold it about a week later and made like $5,000.00, and man I knew right then what I was going to be doing the rest of my life. In 1992 I started work with a company that specialized in land (Conrad Martin Real Estate, Inc.). Now in 1992, the training consisted of, “Here are some business cards, I hope you make it son.” Well, I made $13k the first year. But, the second year I made $48k. Then 6 months into the third year, I had made $98k and so it was time for me to become KING and start my own business. What a rollercoaster that has been!
I dreamed of going to work in the LAND business and riding around on my four-wheeler and showing land all the time, being outside, hunting a lot, and making a pile of money. (Just like the 50-60 guys that have come to work for me over the years: 95% of which did not make it) I dreamed of building a company with agents all over the State and having Brokers that helped me build a company where we could all share in the profits and dominate the land market in Mississippi.
I DID NOT dream of 7 days a week, 20 hours a day working like a crazy man to keep the wolf off the porch! There was just never enough time, I was the President, Vice President, janitor, yard man, marketing guy, husband, dad, provider, and protector but the bottom line was that I HAD to make things happen to pay the bills and try to give my family what they needed and wanted.
It felt like I did not have an option at the time. I have felt disappointment in myself for letting someone down before, and I swore that would never happen again in my life. Therefore, if I told someone we would go look at a property on Sunday afternoon, I would make it happen no matter what, even if it meant sacrificing time with my family.
Well it was bound to happen and divorce came along and life changes pretty drastically at that point. From a business standpoint, it probably helped me because I really ONLY worked for the next several years and managed to stay afloat. People say you get lucky on deals but I believe the harder you work, the luckier you get. I thought 2002 was hard and I had just about gotten my business back running smoothly when 2008 hit and things got really hard. In the year 2009, we did not have one single closing, and that is hard to survive. I just kept right on working and working and had a couple of big deals that closed at the beginning of 2010 and kept right on sailing. When people talk about things being HARD, they are not usually talking about living at your office and hoping that Monday morning doesn’t come because you know the banker is going to call you first thing. Well, that is where I was and I did not like it and knew it was time for a change in the way I did business.
I focused on one thing: Listing and Selling real estate. My plan was pretty simple! Never again have a bad day and do not do emergency real estate service. Since that day, I have never had a bad day and it becomes contagious to people around me. Also, emergency real estate service stresses people out so I decided to never do that again. If people are in that big of a hurry, they are NOT going to buy and you have wasted your time.
The main challenge I was seeing headed my way was Technology. It was changing at a pace that I could not comprehend. I felt like Pac-Man running all the time trying to keep up with marketing technology and the changes that came with it. Then with the rising costs of marketing, I could see consuming any and all profits a company makes. This was going to be a hill and I felt it coming.
What I decided to do was form a group of Brokers in Mississippi to join forces and try to gain some economies of scale with the technology and the marketing. Now I had been in the business since 1992, so I knew all the losers and winners in the business. It made sense to me to join forces with the winners, hire a technology person, and then try to negotiate with some of the marketers of property to gain better contracts. This was around 2016 that all these bright ideas came along. I had been visited by most everyone in the franchise business and it seemed to me that they wanted an upfront fee and some commission but did not really offer to help me as a Broker. Now the “give me a bunch of money and part of your commission and I will let you use our website,” was just not going to work for me. However, I knew I had to do something and joining forces made sense.
This was going to be more complicated than I expected. When you get a bunch of Type A, self-made, independent personalities in a room, things are not always as easy as you plan. The most important thing it did was START the process of trying to figure out the path for adaptation for the future of technology and marketing.
At about that time, Mr. Conrad Martin became ill and asked me to come help him and his business. Now the last thing I needed was another real estate company, but because of our relationship, I went to visit him. The end result was that he was 84 years old and had taught me everything I knew about real estate and I ended up buying his company. NOW I had two real estate companies with about 25 agents and I felt like I had a tiger by the tail and could not turn loose. This derailed the big hand-holding of land brokers in Mississippi for a period of time.
About 6 months into trying to run 2 real estate companies and a bunch of agents, my friend, Mark Lewis walks into my office and says he needs to talk to me. Told me that he had met a “feller” and wanted me to talk to him with National Land Realty. I said, “I have never even heard of National Land Realty and I’m not a prospect to give my money away to some company to be on their website and no I am not meeting with him.” Well, Mark Lewis is my friend for 30 years and he said, “Now Ron you can’t be like that and this company actually helps agents/brokers.” So I reluctantly agreed to meet with Jason Walter from NLR for “a few minutes,” mostly to appease Mark Lewis. Now here is the good part. I have been broke as a joke in my life and truly have lived in my office for months at the time and I never one time prayed for a deal to work. I don’t believe that God helps you close a deal so you can pay your bills. However, I did always ask for wisdom, strength, and guidance in my personal and professional life. After Jason Walter was in my office for 20 minutes, I KNEW this company was structured similarly to what I had dreamed of my whole life.
After this meeting, I was the now principal broker for 3 real estate companies in Mississippi instead of 2! What this did for me and my agents was to leapfrog us over all the competition and put us in front on technology and marketing instead of at the back of the bus. Now all of a sudden, I am not worried about how am I going to pay Land.com and should I buy Google ads, and what about my SEO and do I need a full-page ad here and there for a million dollars! I could totally focus on what is important to me and that was selling real estate. Now since I had already thought about and talked about joining forces in Mississippi, it was a cakewalk to discuss NLR with the Brokers and Agents who were already discussing options with me. We joined forces with most of the Brokers and Agents in Mississippi that we desired and they are thrilled with the real help that they receive. I asked a new agent the other day, how many leads have you gotten from his previous broker and the answer was zero. I was stunned and explained to him the level of help he would receive at NLR and then he was stunned. He came on board and in a very short period of time, he understood what I meant and he is off to the races and already contracted several million in the first 2 months. Since I had dreamed of this company most of my life, it was very easy for me to explain it to Brokers and Agents and I have morphed into Recruiting as much as selling. Once you have been the only guy that does it all, it is a very easy decision to make to join a company that takes a load off your backpack.
What this means to me is that I am thankful that this company came along and I am thankful that I had the guidance/wisdom to recognize it. This company not only makes me a better Broker/salesman but makes me a better person. Because I see the drive and knowledge of the leaders of this company, I can talk with other Brokers and share what I see. Have you ever talked to someone and known that they are completely full of BS? It goes both ways and when I share the story of NLR with people, they can see in my eyes and hear in my voice that this is a good path. It fills me with great pride to show this company to people and to KNOW that I am changing their lives for the better. This company has given me the ability to meet new Brokers/agents all across the nation and what a blessing that has been. I look forward to meeting many new people over the next 30 years of helping this company.
National Land Realty has a vision, a plan, and resources to achieve it. I am committed to working tirelessly for them because it will change the lives of so many people that come to work here, not just in their bank balance but in their overall lives.