Two Years Ago

Two years ago, I decided that I was tired of working for the broker I was with, tired of the screwups of others at that company making it hard for me to do business the right way, tired of making a decent living but having no pride in my work.  Two years ago I opened my own brokerage, a one-man shop, right on Main Street.

Two years ago, the real estate market was flourishing, there were tens of thousands of loan officers actively plying their trade, and dozens of companies ready to welcome me with open arms.  There were 600 different lenders I could work with, and Mortgage Originator magazine had 110 pages every month.

Two years ago nobody knew that the market would collapse, credit dry up, property values decline 25%.  Two years ago nobody could have forecast the demise of GM and Chrysler, deficits of $1.8 trillion, the number of big-bank lenders declining from 25 to 4.  Nobody knew that if you weren’t a big shop, with FHA loan capability, backstopped by large correspondent lines, you were already dead.

In terms of the business, almost everything I thought was true, wasn’t.

But two years ago I knew that I wanted to be on Main Street in Lehi.  I knew I wanted to work in a small office, with people I hired myself, on a busy but – let’s face it – sleepy two-lane street less than a mile from my home.  I knew that I wanted to become part of the community, to put roots there, to learn the names and faces of everyone for two blocks in either direction.  I knew I wanted this place to be my home, and that I wanted desperately for my business to contribute something to the health and vitality of the community around it.  I wanted people to know me and to know they could trust me.  And I wanted to know myself.  And I wanted to trust myself.  And I believed that this place was the place it could happen.

Almost everything I thought I knew about the place I was, and the reason I was there, was absolutely true.

Two years ago, the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce, the lady that I chose as my Vice-Chair and who succeeded me as Chair, presided at the grand opening of my brokerage on Main Street.  Kris Belcher, who wasn’t an author then, but who was, and is, one of the toughest, most genuine, smartest and finest people on earth, made a short speech in honor of the occasion.  She said one thing that day that I won’t ever forget as long as I live.

She said we would go through hard times, but that we had been through them before, and we would always come out right, because, she said, “the Chris Jones Group has the fighting spirit.”

Two years ago, that was true.

By God, it still is.

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