FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Ron Stanners
May 20, 2014
He credits his recently retired registered nurse wife Cathy (they met on a blind date) for a shared-frugality that got them through so many ventures, adventures and businesses in their early days. He's not flashy, flamboyant or extravagant - but his success, respect and accomplishments in the residential real estate industry in Alberta are significant. He is a past president of the Calgary Real Estate Board, co-leads a firm of 500+ realtors - and on the day I met him he had his lawn more in the back of his van next to his golf clubs. A tenant in a property he owns had hip surgery and couldn't mow the lawn. I guess he could have hired it out, but then he wouldn't have had a chance to visit with his long term tenant . . .
When I first met* Ron Stanners he impressed me as warm, welcoming and of my generation – he exuded trust-worthy-ness, projection of which is a learned skill in the selling game, but I’ve come to know it first hand, in action, and can happily vouch for him – he’s been my broker at MaxWell South Star Realty for the last eleven years.
I’ve enjoyed working with him. And I like him, but did I know him?
Perhaps it was about time that I learned some more …
When I sat down with him recently over lunch, I had my eyes opened to talents I’d not previously known.
He remembers dates – not just big events, but so many things we talked about, where he recalled not only the year but the exact date of things. And, as he recounted them it was clear that January 17th is a recurring date for significant things in his life . . .
Ron feels he must be the real ‘first baby-boomer’, because his dad rushed home to Gladstone, Manitoba when the war ended and Ron arrived as the baby nine months later.
When his parents split in 1957, Ron moved to Winnipeg with his dad. High school wasn’t his thing – but soon after he decided delivering groceries on a bicycle has limited career potential. His career path – working for a building plan company, Air Force aerial photographer, restaurant manager, service station franchisee, encyclopedia sales, life insurance sales, drapery sales – left him wanting to be in control of his own destiny. Those moves took him from Winnipeg to Virden, to Edmonton, then Calgary. Friends suggested real estate sales. His first job in real estate – Dec./1980, MacCaulay, Nicholls, Maitland in Calgary doing residential sales. Sales and management jobs with Royal Trust, Royal LePage, Canada Trust, P.J. Toole Cote – until Mar. 23, 1989 when he opened South Star Realty as a Sutton Group franchise. If Feb 1994 his old friend Dick Oakes said, “let me be your partner”. Ron saw the opportunity to take on a partner better than taking on another competitor. By 1999, with four offices running under the Sutton Group banner, Ron and Dick quit searching for a more compatible brand – Dick’s aim was ‘create our own brand’ to which Ron readily agreed. MaxWell was launched August 31, 1999. Ron says that move was the best one he ever made, and Dick is the best partner he ever had (aside from his Cathy wife of course).
* [when I moved back to Calgary fifteen years ago, one of the first things I did was a volunteer project for the United Way – calling on real estate firms to encourage employee contributions. One of those I met that fall was Ron Stanners of MaxWell Realty. A few years later, having stayed in touch with him, he was my logical choice when I left Colliers (another story for another day).]
I asked Ron how he sees business, for real estate brokerage firms … over the next quarter?
… I see us continuing to be very active in a sellers-market which is not healthy. While everybody is doing well, at some point there will be a correction – and that hurts people.
And over the next 5 years?
… I see our licensing structures likely to change. I expect a broker-level educational requirement for all agents who will either be licensed as their own brokerage, or be associated with one as most are now – but with liability more equitably on the realtor’s shoulders. With technology continues to advance so quickly, I sense we are cocooning, which causes the industry to lose the hands-on and face-to-face connections which, in my view, makes for better relationships and better real estate transactions.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… honesty, people who deal fairly, ‘haggle-free-give-me-your-best-price’, trust, no agenda, people who are responsive when I have a problem
What distinguishes you that causes people/employers to choose Ron Stanners/MaxWell, why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… my word and my handshake are as important as my signature, we treat people well, we support our realtors with service and problem solving.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… Not much. When I leave the office, I leave it all behind. Not just because I have good people. I’ve always been that way. I don’t know how I do it – I just do.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my father, for patience and understanding. He was rarely upset. Jim Chaput – sat on a not-for-profit board with him; his skill bringing calm to difficult situations by asking the right questions. When I have problems I often ask myself, “What would Jim do?”. Dick Oakes, my partner of 24+ years – implicit trust, very astute.
Work life balance?
… golf, road trips (to golf!), gardening, wood-working, bird-watching (our home is adjacent to a preserve), planning more foreign travel. Family time - 3 children, 2 grandchildren.
What do you read?
… historical fiction, National Geographic, The Source and other James A. Michener novels.
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