Kelly Bomar is a man who wears many hats. In his own words:
“I’m a Realtor, a politician, a father, a husband, a music leader at church and a school teacher,” Bomar, 42, says with the alacrity of a man who’s speed dating and has two minutes to make a good impression. He’s driving from one job to the next and appears to be accelerating both his vehicle and his speech.
While reciting the many roles he plays in his harried life, Bomar actually left off one – bartender. It’s Thursday evening in Ringgold, Georgia, which means he’ll be behind the bar at Jefferson’s, a casual dining establishment located on Tennessee Street.
When someone asks Bomar if his plate isn’t full enough without piling on one more side dish, he says he’s reluctant to stop slinging beers because the job provides a steady stream of clients for his real estate endeavor.
“I’m helping someone now because they sat down to have a drink at Jefferson’s,” he says. “Bartending has been a good source of business.”
If Bomar were on a speed date, the person on the other side of the table might ask him where he finds the time to help people with their real estate needs. Realtors are expected to be available whenever their phone rings, they’d say and, during the day, he’s busy teaching fifth graders at West Side Elementary in Rossville how to play the ukulele.
It’s a fair question, Bomar admits, but he rarely has a scheduling conflict because most of his clients are willing to meet him after school, he counters. Meanwhile, he tends to the busy work of real estate during the lulls in his day.
While Bomar understands why potential clients sometimes question him about his availability, he continues, he hopes it’s always evident that he enjoys the work he does as a Realtor.
“I love helping people make a positive change, whether they’re moving from one house to another, or going from renting to buying,” he says. “It’s always a good day when I hand someone the keys to their new home.”
Bomar says he’s as passionate about real estate as an adult as he was about music growing up. A fifth-generation native of Ringgold, Bomar began taking piano lessons at the age of 7. He added drums in middle school and was an all-state drummer throughout high school. By the time he arrived at Valdosta State University in Georgia, he was aspiring to become a high school band director.
“My brother was into sports, but music was my thing,” Bomar explains. “I loved it. I excelled at it. It was a way for me to express myself.”
Bomar wanted to be a band director until the day he realized he didn’t. He remembers calling his mother during a moment of distress and telling her he was miserable, not because he didn’t like teaching music but because of “all the other junk teachers have to endure.”
Bomar was too close to graduating to change majors, so he bit the bullet, completed his undergraduate work and then returned home, where he began waiting tables at the local Ruby Tuesday’s.
Management at Ruby Tuesday’s followed. In time, Bomar tired of the 80-hour work weeks and accepted the position at West Side. Thankfully, he says, he actually did enjoy teaching.
“I liked seeing the kids light up when they learned how to play an instrument or a piece of music,” Bomar says. “Some of them went on to study to become band directors. I hope I played a small part in inspiring them when they were in elementary school.”
Bomar continued to work part-time in the restaurant industry to supplement his income. Becoming a city councilman in 2018, however, was about serving his hometown, he says.
“Ringgold has always been a great place to live but it was moving too slowly. Now there’s a lot going on in Ringgold – and much of it is overdue.”
Bomar demonstrated a proclivity for deal-making before he became a Realtor when he located a tenant for a vacant building on Tennessee Street.
At the time, Bomar was eager to bring more dining options to Ringgold but was swimming upstream against perceptions that a chain wouldn’t want to open a location in a town of 3,500 residents.
Bomar believed otherwise and countered skepticism by citing a study at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, which in 2017 had given Ringgold a positive assessment while studying its retail potential as part of the city’s Renaissance Strategic Vision Plan.
When Bomar learned an individual was interested in opening a Jefferson’s, he called the person, introduced himself as a member of Ringgold’s city council and asked them to meet him at the building on Tennessee Street, which had been vacant for over a year.
The rest, Bomar says, is history. Open since 2021, Jefferson’s in Ringgold is doing well and his bartending gig is serving as a conduit of clients for his real estate business.
Bomar says he became a Realtor in 2021 to create an additional source of income. As he and his wife are the beaming parents of three children younger than 7 – including a 2-year-old girl Bomar says has him “wrapped” – the extra money can only help, he explains.
Bomar joined Real Agents Realty in Ringgold after meeting owner Ian O’Shea while serving as president of the board for LIFT Youth Center in the city. (After revealing this tidbit of his background, Bomar says his wife is teaching him to how to say no – a word his 2-year-old has already mastered.)
Bomar says O’Shea encouraged him to earn his license and invited him to join Real Agents, a small, independent brokerage that’s not tied to any major franchises.
“The family atmosphere appealed to me,” Bomar says. “And Ian loves teaching agents and helping others. I thought it would be a great place to hang my license.”
Although a number of former teachers are now Realtors serving the greater Chattanooga market, Boma says he has no intention of quitting his day job to focus on real estate. Instead, he hopes to move up in education by becoming an administrator and helping other teachers rise to their potential.
To that end, Bomar has earned a Master of Music in Music Education as well as an education specialist degree in instructional technology. If he gives any of his jobs the boot, he adds, it’ll be the bartending.
Wherever the future takes Bomar, chances are he’ll still be wearing several hats when he gets there, he confesses.
“I’ve always been a workaholic,” he laughs. “It’s how I self-medicate.”