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The Christi Reece Group: Empowering Small Business Owners in the Housing Market! – The Kooler Lifestyle Podcast Ep 30

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00:00:00 Christi Reece
And so I went from there to. When I was pregnant with my second child and starting to get really busy in real estate, I realized that I needed some support staff. So I went to Bray real estate, really loved the the people there and they were always welcoming whenever I went in to drop off a contract and and a nurse money check. And so I didn’t really interview a whole lot, I just went in and said can I work here and they said yes.

00:00:27 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I. Interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work, and serve through my business Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because Community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the Community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth, and our health. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn today, I am so fortunate to be able to sit down with Christi Reece. Christi . You own the Christi Reece group in Grand Junction and I really appreciate your time. Good.

00:01:25 Christi Reece
Morning. I’m happy to be here. Thank you. This is a treat.

00:01:29 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it’s blowing like crazy outside the office and up in Gunnison. We have a a snowstorm and I love seeing the moisture. We can always use it. I want to know, you know, just to start off, I’ll start with the the question I always love to start off with and where is it that you grew U?

00:01:48 Christi Reece
OI was born in Texas, but I grew up in Lake City, Co, so my folks were living in the Dallas area, and that’s where my dad grew up, and they’ve been vacationing in southwestern Colorado since the 1940s. My dad’s family had, and my dad got really tired of his corporate job and he came home one day. And said that my mom can’t take it anymore. And she said, what do you want to do? And he said I want to go by that little sporting goods store in Lake City, Co and at the time there were only 200 people living there and there were no businesses that were open in the winter. So they bought the Sportsman’s sporting goods store and and we moved up there and. That they kept it open year round and they brought in a lot of things you know they they were the first business to have the the Denver Post in there for people so they have the weekly newspaper and. Yeah, it was a it was a great time and it’s that’s where my heart is. I love Lake City and so I have a big Gunnison Crested Butte connection too, because I went to high school in Gunnison.

00:02:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. I love that. How old are you? And you made that move when you’re when you’re family.

00:02:56 Christi Reece
Made I started first grade there, I believe. I think I did kindergarten OK in Dallas.

00:03:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
But it’s pretty young.

00:03:03 Christi Reece
Yeah. And I was in the.

00:03:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
And what?

00:03:06 Christi Reece
Was teen 80 schoolhouse? Awesome. I need to turn my phones off. Better stones are on, Sir.

00:03:15 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It’s alright. What? Uh, what was childhood like in Lake City?

00:03:19 Christi Reece
Well, I mean looking back I think it was, I think it was pretty idyllic, but we spent a lot of time doing things outside. You know, there’s not a lot of culture going on in the winter there. So we did a lot of cross country skiing, snowmobiling, skating on the lake. That’s that’s what I really remember and the summer times, you know, the summer times are just glorious. So you just spend time outside in the mountains and. It’s so beautiful and and of course like many teenagers when I grab, you know, was in high school or getting ready to graduate, I thought I got to get it out of this area and do something different, but then you come back, right? So. Yeah, it’s it’s always right here.

00:04:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Were you an entrepreneur as a kid?

00:04:09 Christi Reece
Uh, I did a little bit of babysitting, but um, working in the store mostly so the the sportsman will blot. It was sporting goods, gifts, and a liquor store. So mom and Dad put us to work in the in the store every now and then. You know, I’d sell worms and work behind the register by also had a job at the local movie theater, the Mountaineer Movie Theater, which is still showing movies like it’s one of the few theaters. In the area, amazing, yeah. And yeah, so did I thought a little bit of working. And then when my dad got into real estate, I did work for him as an assistant, but also answering phones at the real estate office. So that was probably early high school. Maybe, yeah, maybe you’re high.

00:05:01 Luke
Hey, everybody, this is. Luke from Kooler garage doors just want to take a. Quick second to talk. About our sponsor Sommer Garage Door Openers, in our opinion, Sommers are the highest quality product on the market. We recommend them for all of our residential. Garage. Door installs because of the variety of features they include. Such. As Wi-Fi connectivity and safety features such as a fixed chain which moves along a secure rail to ensure your garage door opens quietly. And safely. Click on the. Link in the description to. Learn more about Sommar Garage Door Openers.

00:05:41 Christi Reece

00:05:42 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Alright, so how walk me through a little bit of the concise story. So childhood and Lake City. And early experience with real estate. O your father is an entrepreneur and gets into real estate. Gives you, gives you a look at that. How does that go from high school to where you are now?

00:06:03 Christi Reece
Well, I didn’t really think real estate was something that I ever wanted to do when I was younger. And my mom owned the title company and so, um, you know, I had that perspective as well and. So I I think I would just kind of grew up around the business and it was just part of my life. But I went to a school in Texas and I got a film degree. I think I owe that all to the Mountaineer movie theater. Love the movie that I wanted to work in the film industry for a while but when I had the opportunity to come back to Colorado I took it. So I moved back to Lake City after college and and that’s when I got my real estate license. So my dad said even if this isn’t something that you want to do for the rest of your life and and for your career, it’s a great education to get your license and have it and and use it if you want to so. That was 1992. So I just had my 30th anniversary of getting my license and I worked alongside my dad for a number of years, and I really didn’t think it was the right career for me. But I was young, you know, and I wanted to be out playing in the mountains. And he was like, did you call this person? Did you call them back? Did you do what you needed to do? Did you get your list done, you know? So it took me a while to realize. Um. That I was well suited to that line of work. They did a lot of other things in between. You know, when you live in a small town, you wear a lot of hats, right? So I was selling real estate and I had a gift shop and I was Rolfing also. So and I think all those things. Helped with my customer service skills. You know, like retail is great. You know, retail and restaurant. Everybody should do that at least once in their face. I agree. It’s like a great eye opener.

00:08:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Yeah, I remember intentionally. I was always the back of the House and the restaurants going through high school and. At some point in my professional career, I was like, I have to go work on the front of the House and I waited tables at our local garlic mice in order to learn how to sell. And that customer service facing is so critical because I’m going to push my kids into it for.

00:08:28 Christi Reece
Sure. And it’s hard work. It’s hard work.

00:08:32 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah. When did you when did you land in Grand Junction and and form the Christi Reece?

00:08:37 Christi Reece
Group. So I met my husband in 2001 and he was from. Transactions we met in Lake City at at the 10K and we kind of thought, you know, do we want to live in Lake City or Grand Junction. And it was just I think after 10 years back in Lake City after college, I was ready for something a little bigger or something a little different. And I had just recently spent some time in Grand Junction and I thought, you know, like I kind of like Grand Junction. I think it’s got a lot of potential. Before that it was, it was just one of those places I drove through on my way to Utah or something like that. So I hadn’t really spent a whole lot of time here. So when we met, we we did decide that we would make Grand Junction our home and I wasn’t sure I was going to get into real estate here, but I did have my license and I just kind of kept falling into deals. And and it just snowballed and it I thought yeah, I think this is a good good time to get into real estate and Grand Junction. So I started with a small firm here just one gallon an office out by the airport, no staff and that was back when we were hand delivering contracts, right and faxing, faxing was the starting to get kind of big and but we did a lot of hand delivery of contracts and checks back then, no electronic software for sure.

00:10:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. And that was mid 2000s.

00:10:04 Christi Reece
Yeah, 2002, 2003, yeah.

00:10:07 Matthew Kuehlhorn
20 years. Amazing.

00:10:11 Christi Reece
And so I went from there to. When I was pregnant with my second child and starting to get really busy in real estate, I realized that I needed some support staff. So I went to Bray real estate, really loved the the people there and they were always welcoming whenever I went in to drop off a contract and and a nurse money check. And so I didn’t really interview a whole lot, I just went in and said can I work here and they said yes. And I I became the top producer at that company. Um. After a number of years and. That was a great education, a lot of really wonderful agents there. That taught me a lot. I learned, learned a lot from everybody there and appreciated my time there. But I started to build a team while I was at Bray. I realized I couldn’t do everything by myself anymore and I needed some help. So I brought all my first buyers, agent London, my team and and and assistant and just started building from there.

00:11:14 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Team is really the juice.

00:11:16 Christi Reece
Yeah, I mean. I think there are a lot of really successful single agents, but. You do get to a point where you get so busy that you can’t provide the customer service that you used to be able to. And when you’re a single agent, it’s hard if you’re. Listing property and out, showing property and trying to coordinate your title services and your inspections and all of that. I mean, there’s a lot that goes into a real estate transaction, so. Five, step back from the buyer side and and let the agents on my team work with the buyers and I just focus on listings and that’s been something I’ve really enjoyed and. And I one of the things I really love is providing good jobs for our staff. We have right now we have 16 agents and seven staff and I feel really good about. Providing. Really nice jobs for those people and I think they really like where they work. We have a great culture and we have a lot of fun. We had Mardi Gras party yesterday. It was awesome.

00:12:19 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That is awesome. That is awesome. What do you think? How might you define the difference that makes the difference for the Christie Reese group? And who is it that you attract? And for an experience of a buyer or seller, what is the difference between another real estate agent and?

00:12:38 Christi Reece
Yeah. Well, you know, one of the things that we focus on is, is that everybody that works here, this is their full time job. So we don’t have any part-time agents that Christi Reece group. This is all how we make. Living so we take it really seriously and we do a lot of training. We do a lot of collaborating with agents, not only here in the valley but agents all over the country. So we’re learning best practices. And you know, there isn’t any reason we can’t do the same things they’re doing in New York City right here in Grand Junction if they apply in the right way. So yeah, no, we just, I think we take a different approach. As a team, because we really support each other. I know learning, there’s a lot of great agents and a lot of great companies out there, but we’re like a little family and we support each other. We we tour each other’s listings. We we train each other. We’re always there. Like everybody on the team is always there for everybody else. Should you need something, people reach out and and get the answers they need and. We call it refreshing real estate because when you when you come in here our team meetings are different than anywhere that you’ll you’ll go in the valley. You know, we we focus on different things. We also focus on fun. We we take our job seriously, and we’re trying to take ourselves too seriously. I mean, if you’re not having fun. There’s no point. Really.

00:14:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I love that. I love that.

00:14:11 Christi Reece
But you know, we also, we have a goal to provide a good real estate transaction for people. I think when when you and I talked before, I mentioned that. My real estate coach, Tom Fairy, talks about consumers think of Realtors as like a bag of potato chips that when you walk down the potato chip aisle there’s there’s so many different kinds, but they they’re all similar and it’s really hard to determine how to pick one. So, you know, we try to make ourselves stand out, we try to do things a little differently. And and just not be a typical average agent. We we study more, we put more hours in, we focus on customer service more and try to make sure that our clients have a really. Smooth, easy experience and we’re we’ve been very successful at it. And it comes onto the team. They have to be dedicated to that.

00:15:07 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I get that. I get. I can feel it just being an observer and and just watching and when did you? Really learn how you learn and fall in love with that consistent, never ending learning and improvement.

00:15:23 Christi Reece
You know, hiring a business coach was a really important step for me. I searched for a long time, you know, I’d go to seminars and things like that. And try to find somebody that I could follow on a consistent basis that really spoke to me, like their way of doing things made sense to me. And when I landed with Tom Ferry, I was like this is it because I tried three or four other different coaching systems and there’s a lot of real estate and and just business coaches out there. But I think having somebody look at your business from the outside is so important. You know I I just love the accountability but also the analyzing of my business from the outside because sometimes you you get your blinders on and get your head down and you’re working hard and and you don’t see the. Course through the trees. OI really love having somebody that will. I mean, I I’m with my coach every week on the phone talking about what we’re doing that’s working, what we’re doing that’s not working, how we make changes and how we provide a better experience for our clients.

00:16:32 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, that’s so good. And you know, for listeners, you know, I would say I’m a huge proponent of of coaching and you look at athletics, it’s a great example. But and anything that we want to get really good at, whether it’s our boys or our business or, you know, physical attributes like having a coach is going to be another level of accountability. And when you get the right one, there’s just some magic that happens there. Have you been blessed with mentors throughout your life?

00:17:05 Christi Reece
Well, I I really have. I mean, I I consider my parents my first mentors, but also Phil and Carolyn Verdon, who owned the movie theater in Lake City of great folks and just creative and and really giving and. You know, when you, when you asked about where I grew up and how that influenced me, I think one of the most important things that I bring with me from Lake City is that my community was my family and my family was my community. And so I really want to give back. I think you you can’t live in a small town without participating in a lot of things. You can, you can hide out, but we were always just involved in everything and giving back to the community. Make it better all the time. And that’s what we try to do in Grand Junction two, which I really love. I love kind of interweaving our business with local causes and supporting lots of different things here.

00:18:07 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yet I’ve seen your your efforts in that realm. You two also host a podcast and you you bring on guests.

00:18:15 Christi Reece
Love you sometime.

00:18:18 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Let’s do it. And and I’ve seen like you do have a big component that gives back into other organizations, charities. What? What are you driving for? Like another five, 10-15 years down the road? What is it that you might hope to leave as a legacy?

00:18:43 Christi Reece
You know when we opened the Christie Reese Group as a company so we were at a we were a team at another brokerage firm and I talked to my team about how we could give back and I thought you know we were we were with Coldwell Banker and we were being we were giving a lot of money to Coldwell Banker which we weren’t sure where it was going you know like Cola Banker International and and and they’re a great organization but for us I thought you know, if we didn’t. If we weren’t sending that money to Chicago, uh, we could keep it right here in our community. And so I I brought up an idea with my team, what if we left and opened our own brokerage firm and then gave some of our revenue to local area nonprofits? And they all said. Hell yes. Let’s do it like that is such a great idea. So I think that’s a big part of our team culture that we we, we do a lot of giving to the Community and. You know. A real as Realtors, if we’re successful, we make good money and I think it’s our duty to give back to the Community and we wanted to build it into our business model and not just say, hey everybody on the team, we encourage you to write a check now and then and support you. You know these causes that you like. We we wanted to make a system out of it so that our business model. Got everybody involved. So I just love it. And I think our team, I know everybody on the team really loves it and that’s part of the reason that a lot of the team members work here. Because we have that that giving attitude and so I I hope that we’re showing other businesses. How great it can be to give back to your community, especially if you’re a success. I think it’s important to. To share what you’ve done and help others and and and help other business people be successful. You know, like I’m, I’m always happy to speak to people share I I mastermind with other agents. I love helping people build their business and therefore they can give back more.

00:21:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it’s beautiful. Huh, very cool. But so we’re in a bit of a of shift and I guess you could say like change is the only constant in any economy in the market. Certainly the Western Slope, Grand Junction, Gunnison, we’ve seen a a population shift, COVID was a disruptor. And. You know, potentially now we’re we’re entering a a time where. Such as the housing marketing in general, maybe, maybe slowing down, maybe not, maybe it’s depending on where you’re at. But my question for you is like what are we excited for? What’s what’s on the horizon horizon that juices you a little bit and you can see some opportunity and and potential to lean.

00:21:51 Christi Reece
Into Grand Junction has just been growing by leaps and bounds and I think not everybody loves big growth, but. I will say that I think over the last 10 years, Grand Junction has become a much more vibrant community and I still think we have a ways to go. You know, our art scene can improve our, our culture scene can improve, our dining scene can improve. And so I think that a little bit more growth, measured growth and planned growth I think is really exciting for Grand Junction. And we’re busy. Not everybody wants to live in a ski area or a resort. Down. And sometimes it’s cost prohibitive. So even though prices have gone up here a lot in the last 10 years, it’s still one of the more more affordable places to live in Colorado, and we’re going to continue to draw people here. I love the fact that we’ve become a destination now. We’re we’re not just that place that people drive through anymore. People really come here because we have a lot to offer, and you can come ride your bike and float the river and drink some wine and there’s so much to do. And I think it’s just getting better all the time. So I’m. Really excited about Grand Junction’s future and um. Yeah, I love its proximity to everything in western Colorado. It’s just a great location to have a home base.

00:23:18 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It really is. I would agree with that. Alright. So a couple, couple more questions for you, Christi. We’ll start wrapping around this conversation. Let’s see. Where do I want to go? I think I want to ask you. A question. So if there’s listeners out there that you know, maybe have just started a business or have a venture in their mind and and they want to lean into it, certainly there’s some risk that goes along with that and taking that next step. But whether it’s it’s maybe a younger version of yourself or just a young person that is listening, what would you? Tells somebody that might encourage him to.

00:24:06 Christi Reece
Take that lead now.

00:24:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn
With that step.

00:24:10 Christi Reece
Well. I’m a firm believer in taking advantage of opportunities when they come your way, you know, I mean, I remember. A friend of mine from Gunnison called one day and said, hey, I’ve got a a permit for the Grand Canyon private trip, 18 days. Coming up, can you go? And I was like, no, I can’t go. Let’s, you know, that’s how grandma going to take off work. How we gonna do that? And then I was like, that’s crazy. Of course I have to go, right? And so I feel that way about some things in business. They’re just there comes a point when you’re like, of course I have to do this, you know, you have to follow. Your heart and what and what drives you, but I think. Watching. The marketplace, whatever kind of business you’re in and seeing where the opportunities lie, especially when there’s changes, change always brings opportunity. So when people start to freak out about the real estate market changing, I say. This is just more opportunity. It’s opportunity for different clients and we have to make sure that we’re advising our clients on what the opportunities are in different markets. So as an entrepreneur, um, I think you take calculated risks, you do a lot of studying, you do a lot of talking, you find some mentors, and then you just gotta go for it. And it can be really scary, but I think. When you take advantage of those opportunities that come your way, it’s a really great feeling, so to say. Yeah, I saw this coming and now is the time, and I’m going to take the leap.

00:25:49 Matthew Kuehlhorn
OK. How do you define failure?

00:25:54 Christi Reece
You know, I really don’t believe in failure. I gotta say I think everything is a learning experience. So. You can have setbacks and you can have mistakes, but I you can come back from just about anything and learn from it and and be better. Be better person, be a Better Business owner, be a better friend. So yeah, I don’t. I don’t like the word failure.

00:26:21 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I agree with you. I don’t like it either. There’s always, there’s always learning to be had. And it’s part of the journey, right? The journey. The journey is the gift. Beautiful Christi, what I loved is, you know, threading together and every conversation is similar. And I always start trying to understand a person’s childhood in this contextual experience, right. So. You know, a shout out to you and your team. You have a strong brand that has a very significant presence. Like, I can’t go into Grand Junction and not recognize your brand. And part of that might be because I am an entrepreneur and I’m always looking out for stuff. But also you guys do a great job of standing out and now I’ve got a little bit of context. So I see a lot of video and video production in your social media and now I’m like, OK, films. Student and goes back to the film in in Lake City in in I think that’s I think it’s beautiful to see that thread. So thank you for sharing that story. In closing, Christie, what? Any final words? Anything you want to close out with?

00:27:37 Christi Reece
Wow, here’s my opportunity. What do I want to say? Ohh. You know, be kind. Um, that goes a long way in business. I I think that one of my strengths is maintaining good relationships with other business owners and and other Realtors and that.

00:27:59 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Has very good brand.

00:28:01 Christi Reece
That has brought me a lot of joy and and a lot of business and a lot of success. You know, I think respecting other people and showing them kindness. Excuse me. Whatever, whether they’re a competitor of yours or somebody that needs some help getting their business going or just somebody in your community. I just it goes a long way and I I love what you’re doing with the podcast. I think that’s you know you’re you’re providing a great service benefit outlet to the community and. It’s it’s obvious how much you enjoy it, so that’s that’s awesome.

00:28:44 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, thank you for that. I really do enjoy it. It it jazzes me and every conversation is so enlightening. I really appreciate. Appreciate you opening up and and just sharing some of your story um your time is valued and for folks that want to reach out either learn more about Christi Reece Group and Oregon you individually how might they do that.

00:29:07 Christi Reece
Well, we have a website of course And our phone number is 970-589-7700 and um got lots of people here that would love to talk about the market and me included. I’m always up for a phone call with anybody that wants to learn about Grand Junction or the real estate market or anything else. Give me a call.

00:29:29 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Awesome. We’ll include those links and phone number in our in our show notes. So please do reach out to Christi Reece and the Christi Reece group. And yeah, here’s 2. Being kind and building a stronger community, Christi, thank you. So.

00:29:42 Christi Reece
Much thank you, Matt. Been pleasure.

00:29:46 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, we’ll talk to you soon.