I am an old dog in the Hawaii Real Estate business, licensed in 1979. My career started with a monthly MLS book, a typewriter with carbon paper, a one page contract, rotary dial phones, and dimes for pay phones. It was very much a people and property business. Interestingly enough, it still is. It is just that how we communicate the information between the people and property has changed.
My son and business partner, Jeremy Stice, came to me last fall all excited as he always is about new technology; he drives me crazy with his latest i-phone apps, Facebook, and Twitter gadgets. He kept telling me, “Dad, you have to look at this new company.” He would not give up. After he received three buyer leads in a row for actual real buyers from the company, in what certainly qualified as lean times for buyers in the Hawaii market, I started to wake up.
He sat me down and said, “give me 5 minutes.” I did. He said, “Google ‘Hawaii real estate.’ “I did. Up popped a company I had never seen before at #1. Then he said, “Google ‘Maui real estate.’ “I did. Up popped the same company on page 1. I said, “These guys don’t even have an office on Maui. How can they do this?”
As State President for the Hawaii Association of Realtors, I get the opportunity to go to all of the National Association meetings, attend the latest and greatest technology meetings and to attend all of the California Association of Realtors statewide meetings as well. I learn a lot. One thing of which I have become acutely aware is: â€œHe who ranks high on the search engines eats more steak.” I like steak.
Jeremy really put me in a tough position. I was ready to start my term as president for HAR in January. I am a part owner of the wonderful company I was working at with a nice office overlooking the harbor and I really enjoyed working with the other owners and agents. I did not want to move. He was going to make a move. Yet Jeremy has given me a new life in real estate. Without being able to work with him, share his energy, and go on the hunt together, I would have just retired to my farm.
A decision had to be made quickly. Jeremy and I called up Matt Beall, the Principal Broker for Hawaii Life, and asked if we could meet with the Hawaii Life crew on Kauai. We flew over and met Matt, Justin Britt, and Winston Welborn, the owners and creators of Hawaii Life. We quickly learned why this new model for real estate works so well.
Hawaii Life is really a marketing company that got into general brokerage. Winston Welborn and Justin Britt run a company called Wasabi Design Elements. For years, as the real estate industry was quickly moving towards the internet, they advised their clients (various franchisees of Coldwell Banker, Remax, and other local brokerages) to take a proactive approach to marketing online. Nobody listened. So, they started www.hawaiilife.com as a referral brokerage to prove their point, and give the consumers what they wanted.
Matt had been hiring Wasabi to do his advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work. Wasabi’s work led to listings and sales that Matt would have otherwise struggled to achieve. In his brilliant style, Matt made Winston and Justin a proposal – to build and own a traditional real estate company, and abandon the referral model. He would never have to worry about marketing again; that was their job. He could list, sell, and recruit and forget about being the best; he had partnered with the best.
That was two years ago. By January 2011, Hawaii Life will be 100 agents strong.
I jumped the fence in February 2010 to be the Broker-in-Charge for Hawaii Life on Maui. I feel like I have started the real estate business all over from scratch. Now, every day, agents from all around Maui are calling me and want to know more about the company. It is really fun! Maui’s crew is 15 agents strong and growing weekly. The leadership skills I have learned over the past 10 years as president of the Realtors Association of Maui and now as President of the Hawaii Association of Realtors have taught me one thing: be the best, join the best, hire the best!
Beth Holiday, our company trainer and Education Chair for the Hawaii Association of Realtors has taught me how to find my strengths, acknowledge what I don’t do well, and to find partners and build teams of people who complement each other, all doing what they like and using their strong points, and not worrying about what they don’t like to do.
Leaders build teams. Hawaii Life is the future of real estate in Hawaii.