It was an evening filled with laughter, tears – and a little suspense – as the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) honored the best of its best and installed new leadership for the new year.
GCAR’s annual Installation & Awards Reception took place Tuesday, Jan. 17 at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. The first tears came as Jennifer Grayson announced Crye-Leike’s Vicki Trapp as GCAR’s 2016 Realtor of the Year.
As Grayson offered vague details about the recipient, Trapp was unaware she was the one being honored. Trapp also didn’t know members of her family, some of whom had traveled a great distance, were waiting behind a nearby closed door.
“This person has been a Realtor for more than 30 years. She’s also served as president of this association. But more than that, she’s hard working and is never more than a phone call or text away,” Grayson said.
Trapp broke down when Grayson called her name. The floodgates opened when she saw her family emerge from behind the door.
“Thank you for this honor. I’m humbled, overwhelmed and speechless. I wish someone would hand me a speech so I’d have something to say,” Trapp said.
“I also want to thank my family,” she continued. “They made a lot of sacrifices over the years so I could do what I love to do.”
After admitting to wondering why her staff was at the event, Trapp thanked the Realtors and brokers she has known throughout her career.
“I’ve enjoyed working with every one of you,” Trapp said.
More tears flowed after Randy Durham installed Mark Hite as 2017 GCAR president.
As Hite was speaking with the membership, he mentioned the time several years ago when Trapp encouraged him to run for a position on the board of directors. When Hite mentioned Trapp by name, out came a tissue.
Hite, who was president in 2012, switched into business mode as he introduced his plans for 2017.
“One of the reasons I came back was to finish something I’d left undone: cultivating a young, engaged leadership,” he said. “We’re all young at heart but we’re aging. Our young professionals are the future of our industry.
“Our challenge is to give this industry to people who can lead us in a consistent and seamless manner. So we’re going to focus on developing future leaders.”
Hite said GCAR will also work on engaging more of its members in 2017. He used the mayoral candidate forums, held at GCAR on Jan. 11, as an example of how the association can involve more of its members in its activities.
“We used to measure our success by how many people showed up at our meetings. But last week during the mayoral candidate forum more people were watching our live stream than were present at GCAR,” Hite said. “So our challenge is to engage folks where and when they want to be engaged.”
Hite said GCAR will be looking closely at its programming in its effort to encourage more members to participate. “We need to figure out what everyone wants now and what they want moving forward,” he said.
Hite said GCAR will also focus on government affairs in 2017. “By hosting the first mayoral candidate forums, we showed the community that Realtors are at the table,” Hite said. “Your voice matters. The items that impact our clients – the things that affect personal property rights and property values – are our business.”
Finally, Hite is looking to boost GCAR’s community involvement. “We want to show the community we’re here to do more than sell homes,” Hite said. “We’re here after the sale, too.”
In addition to installing Hite, Durham inducted the Northwest Georgia Council’s board of directors and the rest of the officers and directors who will be serving GCAR in 2017.
In other business, GCAR designated Don Tindell, Ann Cornwell and James Bullard as Realtors Emeritus. This recognition is given to Realtors who have been members of the association for 40 years. Upon receiving the honor, an agent is no longer required to pay dues to GCAR.
Outgoing president Nathan Walldorf started the meeting by thanking the nearly 200 officers, board members and committee members who served in 2016 for their time and expertise.
“This association is your association, and volunteer leadership at all levels is the key to its success,” he said. “Thank you all for serving.”
Walldorf singled out Trapp for her work as MLS (Multiple Listing Service) chair.
“You had an interesting year. You started out as MLS president and then transitioned to MLS chair following the dissolution of the MLS as a separate, wholly-owned entity,” Walldorf said. “You handled the transition with patience and grace.”
Walldorf also presented the major investors in RPAC (Realtors Political Action Committee) in 2016 with an original photo of the bridges that span the Tennessee River and connect downtown Chattanooga to North Shore.
Recipients included Walldorf at the Bronze R level ($500-$999); Kim Bass, Linda Brock, Becky Cope English, Jennifer Grayson, Hite Robyn Ring, Nickie Schwartzkopf, GCAR CEO and Executive Vice President Carol Seal, Sabrena Smedley, Brandi Pearl Thompson and Kathy Tucker at the Sterling R level ($1000-$2,499; and Travis Close, Randy Durham, Lois Killebrew and Geoff Ramsey at the Golden R level ($5,000 to $9,999).
To close the meeting, Hite thanked Walldorf for his service in 2016 and issued a challenge to every member of the association.
“This is going to be an amazing year. I appreciate your dedication to our industry and your ambassadorship on behalf of GCAR,” Hite said. “I challenge each of you to encourage someone new to step up and become engaged. We work hard to protect this industry. Our challenge is to leave it to people who will do likewise.”