My adoptive parents, Ivan and Wilda, were my biggest influence while growing up in Lodi. My dad and his business partners were real estate champions. My mom was the head surgical nurse at Lodi Community Hospital. Though they did it in different ways, both my parents were concerned with helping and taking care of others, and taught me how to do just that.
After graduating from Lodi High in ’79, I went to college in Springfield, Missouri and played football. I eventually earned a pro football tryout in southern California. Even though
I was the best punter/kicker on the field the coaches eventually picked other players who went on to long NFL careers. I had been the best guy on the field, and I was able to move forward with confidence instead of wondering what could have been.
I decided to stay in southern California rather than returning to Missouri, and got a job in sales with a merchandising company. I would literally sell stuff out of the back of my car, in parking lots, at car washes, or up and down the streets of Long Beach, peddling everything from pots, pans, dish and knife sets to pool sticks, hunting knives, and travel bags.
After a few years of successful sales in SoCal, Ivan encouraged me to come back to Lodi. I figured that if I could do well selling small stuff, I could do well selling real estate. I returned home, earned my license at age twenty-three, and joined my dad in the business.
I’ve been working in real estate ever since. It hasn’t always been easy. Nearly ten years into my career, the market started to slow down, and I looked into some options for extra income. I served as a firefighter in Woodbridge for several years, and getting licensed to drive that truck led me to later become a tour bus driver. It was in that role that I met my wife, Tammy.
Tammy is a wonderful person, and a hard worker who does whatever it takes to get things done, just like me. She’s a teacher in a leadership position and I’ve learned a lot from her about preparation and follow through. We’ve been married over sixteen years now, and there’s nobody I’d rather have by my side. She brings out the best in me.
In 2004, I had what I thought was an anxiety attack. My heart would race and I would get dizzy. I had to hold onto something until it went away. It reoccurred a number of times over the next few months, but I didn’t think much of it, because it always went away—until one time it didn’t.
I went to the emergency room, where they told me my heart was beating 269 times a minute. It was so fast that they couldn’t feel a pulse! I spent a week in the hospital before they were able to figure out what was wrong with me: my heart had a bad valve.
I was transferred to Sacramento to have open-heart surgery at the age of forty-three. Before this, I had been otherwise healthy. I worked out and played sports. I had always felt like I was invincible. The surgery helped me to reevaluate my life. For one thing, it proved that I had a heart! But beyond that, it made me confront my mortality and consider my family and legacy. What would my wife and kids do if I was gone?
I determined that I had been going through life too self-centered. That experience made me realize how temporary it all is. Since then, I’ve been living with empathy, and making my life more about taking care of others and making a difference. And for more than ten years now, I’ve been fortunate to have my business partner Mitch alongside me working towards those same goals.