Exit Realty CK Elite broker/owner Kirk Groombridge is a third-generation real estate professional who recently teamed up with his father, associate broker and 50-year industry veteran Dale Groombridge, in Chatham, Ont.
“In many respects (my father) has been, and always will be, my main role model both in real estate and in life in general. For me, and our entire team at the office, it’s an amazing advantage we have in him because we know we can go to him with any questions or get advice on something we might be encountering for the first time that he has likely come across before,” Kirk says. “Even from a brokerage standpoint, he has been there, done that, running multiple brokerages and managing dozens of agents, which is a huge benefit for me right now as we begin growing this new franchise.”
Throughout Dale’s five-decade career he’s been an owner of his own firm, a broker with two major competitors as well as an independent. He was on the ground floor of the formation of the Chatham-Kent Real Estate Board, serving as past president and remaining on as a member ever since. He has also been awarded his Fellowship of the Real Estate Institute of Canada (FRI) designation and served as a Canadian Residential Appraiser (CRA) with the Appraisal Institute of Canada for 12 years.
“In those early days a Multiple Listing Service as we know it was non-existent and very few, if any, listings were ever shared between brokers,” says Dale. “Small business computers were unheard of. Rather, those were the days of telephone land lines only, photocopiers, three-ring binders and 48-hour photo processing; no internet, digital platforms, or social media.”
Although eras apart, Dale and his son grew up in the same small town, enjoying a close-knit and spiritually oriented life there as boys, and though post-secondary school took both of them away for a short time to pursue young dreams, both would return home and to real estate.
Dale married his “college sweetheart” (and into a real estate family) but followed his Bachelor of Commerce dreams right out of university into the Toronto IBM headquarters after graduating. Years later he would be transferred home to serve as branch manager at the company’s new Chatham location, and seize the opportunity to buy his father-in-law’s successful, 15+ year brokerage.
Kirk had eyes for film studies, and he too would leave Chatham in pursuit of a Christian-based liberal arts education that led him to California and his future wife. Coming from a strong real estate, family-first background, Kirk watched the entertainment industry turn him and his wife into “ships passing in the night,” and he says he knew he didn’t want a life-long career like that. With real estate booming in the area at the time, Kirk reached out to his father for advice and eventually returned to the “family business”, opening his own independent office in the U.S. “Real estate had always been in the back of my mind because I loved the flexibility it gave my father as I was growing up, and as a people-person I knew that I would enjoy the customer service side of the business,” Kirk says.
Having the chance to partner with his son was an exciting prospect that was “like a tonic”, Dale says. As it turns out, Kirk is a regular chip off the old block because the people aspect is precisely what has kept Dale attracted to the business for so long as well.
“Uppermost in my enjoyment of and love for real estate is without question, the people. I enjoy the fact that no two days are ever alike. You are forever interacting, wearing different hats,” says Dale. “I learn from and am constantly challenged by Kirk, my team members, friends and respected competitors; not to mention the many lawyers, bankers, appraisers, home inspectors and mortgage professionals. In dealing with all of them, both professionally and personally, I’ve always strived for integrity and mutual respect.”
In his mid-70s, a husband, a father of four and spending the better part of his life in real estate, Dale says he doesn’t feel like he’s ‘worked’ a day in his career. He says he considers himself blessed to enjoy what he’s done for over 50 years.
His advice to those also looking to build a life-long real estate journey? “Never stop learning,” he says. “Always be willing to learn and adjust without compromising your own personal standards, beliefs and aspirations.”
Melanie Robitaille is senior staff writer and graphic designer for Exit Realty Corp. International.