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Blog :: 01-2019

Looking Forward to Celebrating 45 Years as a Local Leader in 2019

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In 1974, Ron McColly founded McColly Real Estate in Merrillville with just one office and four agents. His overall approach was to start a company that helped to sell and market real estate in a way that had never been done in this area before. Around that time, John Rostankovski was working for an insurance company in the very same building as the newly founded McColly Real Estate. “Ron McColly talked me into joining him so I went and got my real estate license and I’ve been here ever since,” says Rostankovski. “It [the business] was a lot different back then.” Fast-forward to 2018, McColly Real Estate now has nearly 500 sales associates with 22 offices spanning both Indiana and Illinois. For the last four years, McColly Real Estate has been voted Best Real Estate Local Company/Team in the Times Best of the Region. Last year, McColly had 4,728 total transaction sides closed with $845 million+ in open sales volume, ranking #137 in the Top 500 Brokers in the U.S.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

“We had no computers, no internet and no copy machines when we started,” says Rostankovski, who remembers that the first mobile phones came in big bags that you draped over your shoulder. “It’s like coming out of the Dark Ages,” says Realtor Diane Cline, who has worked for McColly Real Estate for 36 years. “Before there were computers and the online Multiple Listing Service (MLS), we had MLS books, which came out every two weeks and listed the homes for sale. That was before lockboxes. Now you’re in touch all the time and buyers can see the houses online.” 31 years after joining McColly, Realtor Elaine Eich remembers how Realtors worried when listings became available online. “They thought clients wouldn’t need us anymore, but that’s not true,” she says. “What is true is if I didn’t keep up with technology, then younger people wouldn’t stay with me. They want to text, they want to communicate instantly and that’s one of the factors that make McColly Real Estate so successful. In order to keep growing, you’ve got to keep ahead of what’s going on,” says Eich. “We really do that here. Nobody likes change, but if you don’t adapt, you won’t be able to give your customers the best service.” In addition to expanding the number of sales associates and keeping up with technology, McColly Real Estate has also adapted their business services with the evolving needs of their clients — adding the McColly School of Real Estate, Community Title Company, an affiliation with Diamond Mortgage, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, McColly Insurance, a New Homes Division, First Developers of Indiana, Inc., award winning mccolly.com website, Luxury Portfolio International®, and McColly Bennett Commercial Advantage.

We’re a Family, Not a Franchise

Rhonda McColly-Fleener, Ron McColly’s daughter says, “We’re family not a franchise”. McColly-Fleener started working at the office when she was in middle school and was given the assignment of organizing a large closet crammed with what seemed like 900,000 message pads (no voicemail back then) and MLS books. Though McColly-Fleener graduated with a teaching degree, her father offered for her to work, at least temporarily, for the business. That was more than three decades ago. “At first I did public relations for the company,” says McColly-Fleener, McColly Real Estate’s Chief Operating Officer, noting that one of her earlier advertising gambits before internet advertising was to dress up like a giant Easter egg and hand out candy at the McColly Real Estate kiosk in Merrillville’s Century Mall. Another pre-internet advertising campaign was when she organized a contest to find the oldest Better Homes & Garden cookbook when McColly was part of the Better Homes & Garden franchise (McColly went independent in 2003, when they were asked to be a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. LeadingRE gives McColly associates compelling global exposure for their listings and the most prolific referral network in the industry, with a qualified client introduction occurring somewhere in the network every five minutes.). “I’ve been here a long time so I obviously think it’s a great company,” says Cline. “Most Realtors move around, changing companies, but at McColly we’re a very tight, family owned company. It’s McColly’s business savvy as well as how employees are treated that have led to their success whereas other agencies have come and gone.” “My dad treats everyone fair,” says McColly-Fleener, who says that her father’s family, who lived in the Glen Park area of Gary, always had an entrepreneurial knack, owning businesses like a corner grocery, a bowling alley and laundromat. “We attend the weddings, the memorials, and as many special events as possible.” McColly also supports their agents by offering an extensive training course called “McColly University” every six weeks to all new and experienced agents desiring to participate. In addition, monthly company-wide meetings are held that bring in experts from various aspects of the real estate community as special speakers as well as community organizations that are vital parts of the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Region.

Giving Back

McColly Charities is a big part of the organization. They are currently finishing up their McColly Coat Drive in partnership with the Salvation Army and have participated with Toys for Tots. However, year round, Ron McColly is very active with numerous charities, such as recently donating $100,000 for the Southlake YMCA expansion in Crown Point. “We have a lot of charities and Ron is very involved in the community--I can’t go to a charity event without seeing him,” says Cline, adding that she had recently attended the 17th annual Pink Ribbon Society Breast Cancer Awareness Tea and saw that McColly Charities had donated a pair of diamond earrings valued at $2,000. “He never talks about those things.” If agents are active in a charity, McColly-Fleener says they’ll help in supporting them.

Old Fashioned Values

“The only thing that’s really changed is the technology,” says Rostankovski. “But McColly Real Estate’s business model is the same. It’s about following a code of ethics and always following through with what you’re supposed to do and what you said you’d do. That’s what working with Ron has been like all these years.

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Celebrating 45 Years of Serving as a Local Leader in Real Estate in Northwest Indiana

In 1974, Gerald Ford ascended to the presidency upon the resignation of President Richard Nixon; “The Sting,” starring Robert Redford won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song “was named the Best Song of the Year.

Closer to home, Ron McColly, who grew up in Gary, opened a small real estate office with four agents in Merrillville, Indiana.

Robert Redford is retiring from acting next year and this year’s top song is Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next.”

But McColly Real Estate, voted Best Real Estate Local Company/Team in the Times Best of the Region for the last four years, now has nearly 500 sales associates with 22 offices in both Indiana and Illinois and in 2017 posted 4,728 total transactions sides closed with $846+ million in open sales volume, ranking 137 in the Top 500 Brokers in the U.S.

As McColly Real Estate grew, so did their investment in the communities they served. 

“Since 1974, Ron McColly has privately been a local philanthropist,” says Monica Decker, director of marketing and technology, noting that McColly Charities are an important part of the organization. During the holiday season, the company participates in Toys for Tots and partnered with the Salvation Army in the McColly Coat Drive. Year round, Ron McColly has been very active with a multitude of charities, recently having donated $100,000 for the expansion of the Southlake YMCA.

“We have a lot of charities we support, and Ron is also very active in the community—I can’t go to a charity event without seeing him,” says Realtor Diane Cline who has worked for McColly Real Estate for 37 years.

A few months ago, Cline attended the 17th annual Pink Ribbon Society Breast Cancer Awareness Tea and saw that McColly Charities had donated a pair of diamond earrings valued at $2000.

“If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have known because Ron never talks about things like that,” says Cline.

“My dad treats everyone fair,” says Rhonda McColly-Fleener who earned a teaching degree. However, she decided the family business is where she wanted to be and took a position in the marketing department after college and remains with the company more than three decades later.

But that’s not unusual. Instead of the typical turnover in the real estate business, many of the McColly Realtors have been with the company for twenty years or more.

“That’s because we’re a family, not a franchise,” says McColly-Fleener, Chief Operating Office of McColly Real Estate, noting that knowing the market and being out in the community are several of the many reasons McColly Real Estate has been so successful. “We aren’t just another agency selling houses in Northwest Indiana—we’re an integral part of the communities we serve.”

General Manager Tracy Parus, who has worked for McColly Real Estate for 23 years, is a prime example of the company’s commitment to community.

“Being a Realtor is so much more than just selling homes,” she says noting that McColly’s mission has always been, since day one, to create long term relationships and trust with their customers and clients in order to develop a culture of sharing and caring for the communities they serve.

That’s important to the McColly staff continues Parus, because the McColly Charities gives their Broker Associates the opportunity to become an integral part in making the lives of others better.

Since 1995, when she began working as an agent, Parus has seen the company’s exponential expansion of market share and locations.

“The growth that I have been part of through the McColly Companies and through our affiliation with the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has been exciting for me--our footprint has been enlarged through the success we are experiencing in Indiana and also with the growth we have had the pleasure to experience in Illinois,” says Parus.

 “Whether buyers are looking for property in LaPorte, Indiana or farmland in Paxton, Illinois and any type of real estate in between, our agents have the local expertise to best serve our clients’ needs, since we live in the same locales,” says Decker. “Our affiliation with the infrastructure of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® network and their Luxury Portfolio International® with headquarters in Chicago, London and Singapore, creates a dominant global presence. LeadingRE is the most productive real estate and relocation services network on the face of the earth. Only 1 in 5 brokerage applicants is granted membership into this exclusive, by-invitation-only organization. With clients moving due to employment opportunities, moving to be closer to loved ones or looking to purchase a second home, the relocation division is there to assist.”

McColly not only invests in the community but also its Realtors, creating long-term agents who are well training and able to use cutting edge technology in servicing clients.

“McColly is all about human interaction,” says Cline. “That includes networking and honesty.”

That is why, says Decker, McColly Real Estate has been in business for 45 years and will continue to be around for so much longer.

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McColly Annual Christmas Party Celebrates a Strong Year

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It was another banner year for the McColly Real Estate team, and they celebrated in style on Thursday with their Annual Christmas Party at Innsbrook Country Club.

The party was not only a celebration of the real estate agency’s business achievements over the year, but also a way for the McColly leadership to recognize and honor the brokers and staff across Northwest Indiana, Chicago Southland and Central Illinois who make everything they do possible. Featuring almost endless waves of gourmet food from the Innsbrook kitchen, live performances from the Wheeler High School Choir, and an appearance from St. Nick himself, the evening showcased everything that makes McColly a special place to work and grow.

“I think people really like this, we’ve been doing it now for about 25 years,” said Ron McColly, Founder of McColly Real Estate. “If I were to boil our work culture to one thing it’d be ‘family.’ What we’re trying to do is create one large family. I’d just like to wish that family the best holiday season ever.”

The Holiday Party is a mainstay of McColly’s culture, and some of their veteran brokers have been attending it for well over a decade. The leadership always strives to be more than just a workplace; they look to perfect work-life balance by not only granting their team the time they need for their families and personal interests, but also by making sure there is always something to look forward to on their calendar.

“What we try and highlight with this holiday party, and any of the various appreciation luncheons or dinners that we do throughout the year, is the idea that we want people to have a true work-life balance,” said Drew Ranich, Director of Broker Relations. “We want to make sure that our brokers can provide for their families and live their best lives while spending as much time with their family as possible and pursuing the thing that they’re passionate about.”

Aside from enjoying food and drinks, attendees also lined up for pictures in front of Innsbrook’s many Christmas trees. Sounds of holiday classics were also enjoyed thanks to the Wheeler High School Choir.

While many of the brokers loved the chance to sit back and enjoy dinner with friends and family, others were so excited about the McColly team’s achievements this year that they could not help but talk shop.

“The McColly leadership is on the bleeding-edge of technology, when we’re the number one company out there, why would brokers consider going anywhere else,” said veteran broker Mary Jane DiMichele. “But even though I say that, there’s a social aspect to our business. It’s not always ‘business, business, business.’ Thanks to events like this, we get to know people on a social and personal level. It’s about families and us getting to know each other, and that’s very important.”

From the newest agents to veterans of over two decades, there was a common theme mentioned when asked what it is that makes McColly Real Estate a special place to do business: every single broker is a whole lot more than just another team member.

“What I love about working for Ron McColly is that he cares about every agent, not just succeeding this year, but succeeding for a lifetime,” said Brenda Versnel, one McColly broker. “He cares about our future, our retirement, he invests in us as people.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS!

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