In November, EXIT Realty Inter Lake with offices in Bridgewater and Liverpool, Nova Scotia, celebrated its 20th anniversary with EXIT Realty, the first brokerage in the system to reach this milestone.  Franchisee, Jon Walker, reflected on the past 20 years. 

Before we joined EXIT, we were a small, independent brokerage of three people; myself, Doug White and Sylvia Cherry (all still with EXIT) located in Labelle, Queens County, Nova Scotia.  In 1997 we decided to move to Bridgewater to expand our business and get into a different market.  We thought agents would flock to join us but several of the agents we interviewed wanted to be with a franchise.

We called six franchise organizations; some have never gotten back to us!  EXIT contacted us immediately, we met with them the next day and made our decision to join EXIT Realty.  Professional hockey player, Mark Seamone, joined soon after as a brand new real estate agent and later joined me as a partner in the brokerage.

When we attended broker training early in 1998 we saw that what we bought into was much bigger than we ever dreamed.   We met even more people at Convention (I’ve attended all of them).  Whenever we have an opportunity to be with EXIT people, we take it.  We learn from one another and the synergy just rubs off.  From there, and going forward, growing our brokerage has been a whirlwind of activity.  It took on a life of its own.

Because we were the first in Atlantic Canada, no one knew what EXIT was, so we started doing radio ads.  Then we set up a big tent at the South Shore Exhibition displaying all of our listings and that really helped to get us going. Within a few months we grew to seven agents.

At EXIT’s 1998 Convention held at the White Oaks Resort & Spa at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the company’s affiliation with Habitat for Humanity was announced.  We began our fundraising efforts for Habitat by selling hotdogs from our EXIT tent and this also helped to build our brand.  Our efforts led to our successful annual golf tournament and gala and to-date we’ve raised more than $240,000 for Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia South Shore Chapter.

Editor’s note:  EXIT Realty Inter Lake received the Business Leader Award for Atlantic Canada in 2016 for their work with Habitat for Humanity and was honoured in a ceremony in the Nation’s capital.  The award recognizes “businesses that demonstrate social responsibility and support the well-being of their communities.” 

In 2001 we opened an office about 49 km away in Liverpool, an area known for its big sales of waterfront properties and our office is thriving there today as a result.

In 2003 at Steve Morris’ urging, we bought our building which was a daring venture for us.  Until then we’d never had financing; we’d always run on cash.  It was one of the best decisions we ever made.  Our agent count, sales and market share all doubled. (We’ve held the #1 market share position for number of units in the South Shore Region since 2001).

Today we are very busy.  When we ask our customers why they deal with us, they say it’s because of our community involvement.  Everything we do is focused on the community and they give back and support us.  We’ve been fortunate to have EXIT Realty’s Founder & Chairman, Steve Morris, and Canadian Divisional President, Joyce Paron, visit our office on several occasions and the community and our competition take note of that too.  All these things combined helped us to move forward.

I’ve always believed in EXIT’s principles and followed the example set by Steve Morris to “go big or go home”.  Last spring, we contracted for 10 billboards to be displayed at the entrances to Bridgewater and Liverpool.  Our message is, “Thinking of buying or selling? Go to the nearest EXIT.”

Also in the spring we started providing scholarships in our five local high schools for graduates entering a business program at a community college or university.  The schools’ scholarships committees made the selection, agents from our office were on hand to present the scholarships and we ran the photos and write-ups in our local newspaper.  We’ve received phone calls from the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of these kids thanking us for supporting the community.  No other real estate company around here has ever done that.

EXIT always has so many exciting things happening.  This is my life and I enjoy working every day – I enjoy every bit of it. The only thing I wish is that Steve had developed EXIT years earlier. He is always pushing us to the next level and we’re looking forward to an exciting future.

 

 

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