Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 7, 2015

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center hosts CEO

Byron Kelly, broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center; Gino Blefari, chief executive officer of HSF Affiliates, which operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices; and Karen and Ben Kelly, owners of Realty Center. - David Laprad

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center last week welcomed Gino Blefari, chief executive officer of HSF Affiliates, which operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, to Chattanooga for a day of training. Speaking at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, Blefari also offered the dozens of agents and brokers that met there 63 time management tips.

The day began with Realty Center owners Ben and Karen Kelly paying tribute to the five service members killed in the shooting at the Navy Operational Support Center on July 16, and honoring the long career of one of their agents.

Service members honored

While the Kellys were attending a Berkshire Elite Circle meeting in Washington, D.C. in June, Blefari presented the couple with a U.S. flag, folded in a triangular shape and stored in a small glass and wood case. The flag had, at one time, flown atop the U.S. Capitol.

As Karen told the story of receiving the flag, she said she had no idea how much it would come to mean to her and Ben a month later.

“It was a very special gift,” she said  before stopping for several seconds to hold back tears. “We mourn the loss of our fallen heroes, and we’re proud of our communities in Chattanooga,  Cleveland, and North Georgia for coming together to support the families of those servicemen.

“Thank you, Gino, for presenting us with this flag. It will always have a special place among our family, and it will always be a reminder of that day. Chattanooga strong.”

Ben and Karen’s son, Byron, broker of Realty Center, then lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Honoring Rose Stutz

Before Blefari took the floor, Ben paid tribute to a real estate agent who retired in 2014 after 20 years with Realty Center.

Rose Stutz chose to retire last year instead of renewing her license so she could spend more time with her family, which includes a growing number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Ben gave Stutz a plaque signifying her long time of service with the company. “A rose is not a shrinking violet,” he said. “It’s a robust bloom that stands out in the garden. And that was our Rose. Thank you for your years of service to your company, your fellow Realtors, and our family.”

“I was very happy with my real estate family,” Stutz said while speaking with the Hamilton County Herald after the presentation. “They were like another mother and father to me.”

Stutz became a Realtor in 1994 in order to sell the houses her husband, John, was building. But she knew the difference between a house and a home before she ever sold her first listing. “A home contains memories. A house is just a house,” she said. “It’s easy to sell a house. It’s much harder to sell a home.”

Stutz said the work was hard, but her love of people sustained her through the years. “If you do this just for money, then you’re going to have more bad days than good days,” she said. “But if you do this mainly because you love people and want to help them, then you’re going to have more good days than bad days.”

Stutz said stepping away was hard, but it was time. “I met so many good people,” she said. “Every time I talk with someone, real estate comes up. I miss it.”

Stutz has not been lacking for things to do since retiring. For starters, she and her husband have their hands full managing the ten rental properties they own. She’s also ready and willing to dole out advice to the next generation of Realtors whenever one crosses her path.

“It’s a hard job,” she tells them, “but you get out of it what you put into it.”

After attending to local business, the Kellys yielded the floor to Blefari, who spent the next few hours offering tips geared toward helping Realtors work more efficiently and increase sales.

While introducing Blefari, Byron said he’s committed to the success of every agent that works under the Berkshire Hathaway banner.

“Gino doesn’t just talk the talk, he also walks the walk,” Byron said. “He’s living proof that if you get to the point where you can help others achieve their goals, then you have far exceeded your own.”

Founded in 1982, Realty Center began operating as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center in January, making the family-owned real estate agency part of a brokerage network that has grown to more than 34,000 agents and over 1,000 offices in 47 states since the brand launched in 2013.