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Front Page - Friday, November 7, 2014

Realtor armed with lessons learned during military service

Mavis Threat is a veteran of the Navy and a Realtor with Fletcher Bright. She says she learned many lessons in the military that continue to guide her today. - (Photo by David Laprad)

Mavis Threat was never interested in the careers that typically attract young people. When her friends would say they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, she’d say, “I want to join the Army!” Growing up in Junction City, Kan., near Ft. Riley Army Base, she was drawn to military service.

There was just one problem. “When I realized they sleep outside, I knew that wasn’t for me,” she says, laughing. “So I went into the Navy instead.”

Threat (pronounced “Threet”) wasted no time pursuing her dream; as soon as she graduated from high school, she headed for boot camp. Basic training was physically and mentally taxing, and gave her an appreciation for paying attention to details.

“If one person messed up, the company commanders would drill all of us for hours,” she says. Threat messed up once, but she was the only one who had to pay for it.

“The company commander came in while I was on watch, but I didn’t say ‘Male on deck,’ which we had to do because we were an all-female unit. I didn’t want that to happen again, so the next time a company commander came in, I shouted ‘Male on deck!’”

Threat didn’t know this particular company commander was a female.

“She said, ‘Do I look like a male to you, recruit? Drop and give me 72!’”

Threat’s first command was Mayport, Fla., where she worked on a tugboat that pulled big ships in and out. In time, she decided to become an information systems technician. Growing up in a single parent household with no computer, though, she lacked even basic skills. C-School brought her up to speed. “When they send you to C-School, you’re the stuff,” she says, “so I was the stuff!”

Threat even needed to learn to type. “A girl had gone overboard, and I was tapping out the message with one finger,” she says. “My company commander said, ‘Do you want me to type this for you?’ I said, ‘Yes, please!’”

Threat enjoyed serving in the Navy, and by the end of her first enlistment, she envisioned herself making a career of it. There was just one issue.

While in Mayport, Threat had met her husband, Eric. Eager to start a family, they had three kids right off the bat. “People thought we were too young to have kids,” she says, “but my husband said, ‘When our kids are grown, we’ll still be young enough to kick it.’”

Eric wanted boys, but the couple had two girls, so they kept trying. Their first of two boys came next. Raising three kids while both of them were working 12 hour shifts wasn’t easy, and a change in venue to Naples, Italy made their situation even more challenging. Then came a fourth pregnancy and news the Navy would be sending Eric to Bahrain for a year.

“We tried to make it work, but we couldn’t, so the Navy released me early and I moved to Chattanooga, where my husband had grown up,” Threat says. All told, she was in the Navy nearly eight years.

The time without Eric was difficult, but Threat not only made it on her own, she furthered her education by taking computer programming classes at ECPC (now Chattanooga College). In time, her husband came home, and the couple settled in, went to work, and raised a family.

Over the next few years, Threat worked first at a telecommunications company and then BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Determined to earn a bachelor’s degree, she also took classes at Phoenix University and Bryan College. She graduated from the latter with a degree in business administration. Her education wasn’t yet over, though.

No longer employed at BlueCross, Threat had started researching investment properties, and was considering making some purchases.

“I’d always been interested in real estate,” she says. “When we were in Mayport, I wanted to buy a house. My husband said, ‘One hundred and ten thousand dollars? Do you know how much money that is to owe somebody?’ I told him you’ll always have to pay rent, and you can either pay it to someone else or to yourself.”

Through trying to locate a Realtor with whom she and her husband had previously worked, she connected with Jennifer Grayson at RE/MAX. Jennifer took Threat around, showed her several properties, and praised her level of knowledge.

“She told me I knew what I was looking for, and she said I should get my real estate license,” Threat says. “As soon as I finished my last class at Bryan, I went to TREES [Tennessee Real Estate School].”

Like Threat did with the Navy and starting a family, she hit the ground running. She joined the team at Fletcher Bright and soon had her first listing: a short sale. “Short sales tend to be complicated and tedious, but I’d studied how to do them while researching investment properties, and it worked out perfectly,” she says.

Threat’s first buyer was a HUD, but it also went smoothly. Then someone wanted her to list a mobile park. “I said, ‘Bring it on.’ I sold it before the contract expired,” she says.

Threat continues to work with investors, and is still with Fletcher Bright. “My broker, Miss Betty Smith, takes care of me, and our office assistant, Susan Simpson, works really hard for us. They take care of their people,” she says.

Although Threat is approaching 15 years out of the Navy, she still carries many of the lessons she learned in the military with her. She’s especially grateful for the lessons about not giving up.

“When something isn’t easy, it still has to be done. No matter what you do, there’s going to be good, and there’s going to be bad. In real estate, there have been times when it’s been bam, bam, bam – one closing after another. And there have been times when nothing was happening. But you have to push through them. Boot camp sucked – our muscles hurt and we were in tears – but in the end, we came out of it okay,” she says.

Threat is also grateful for her experiences in the Navy meeting people from all walks of life. She continues to draw on those encounters today.

“Not everyone is going to think just like you; you have to come to understand different attitudes, perspectives, and personalities,” she says. “I need to see things not only from my point of view, but yours, too. And I need to consider what you want and need.”

Threat is living a full life made even fuller by her family. While she enjoys her work, she loves her husband and children, who are her focus during her down time. Judging by her description, they provide her with the comedy relief she needs.

“In our spare time, we enjoy each other. We chill. Our kids will joke on me, and then they’ll joke on their dad,” she says. “I treasure my time with my family. When you lose it, you can’t get it back.”

Threat has gained much she’ll never lose – fortitude growing up in a single-parent household, strength of character and acceptance of others in the Navy, and the love of a family she helped to create. Whether she’s on the job, or relaxing at home, she’s using these gifts to make the most of every moment.

Looking back, she’s even grateful for the extra push-ups.   

For more photos, pick up a copy of the Hamilton County Herald.