You will not meet too many people that went from the cattle business into the real estate business, better yet how and why. This is my story of leaving a family business, Fairview Farms to Petrowsky Real Estate Company. Also how I learned about referrals or maybe more importantly, about asking for referrals from a farmer I did business with.
My parents bought a dairy farm in Columbia CT, when we came to America, I was 5 years old at the time. It was pretty tough work, plus not being able to speak the language, but we all learned. Like many immigrant families we were delighted to be in the USA. Like the Neil Diamond song "Coming to America".
Move forward to when I turned 17, my dad and I became partners in the cattle business. We purchased and sold cattle in CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME and NY. This is where I got my foundation for my future careers in the real estate and mortgage businesses.
At the early age of 17 I met Oscar. He was one of my very first customers. I had worked with him for about 6 months, when he mentioned to me, that he also had an artificial insemination business and had about 80 farms as customers. "You can't make this stuff up". I wasn't really very quick on the trigger that day, but a couple of days later, I approached him with a request. Can you introduce me to the farmers that you have as customers? To my great relief he said, he'd be delighted.
Over the next couple of years he introduced me to each and every farmer that he had as a customer. My cattle business expanded and I was on my way. I don't recall what percentage of his customers I actually did business with, but it was well over 50%. This became my credo about how I got all future customers.
For the next 5 years, I had interacted with many farmers that wanted to buy cows from me, but they didn't always have the money and financing was often a problem. So, the way I worked with some of them, was to take land in trade for the cows they wanted to buy. Many had land, that was really worthless to them if crops could not be grown. They had wooded land and lots and we would work out a value for the land and I would trade them cattle that they wanted. None of my competitors would ever consider doing anything so crazy. My father wouldn't either.
My father told me, that if I was going to take real estate in trade, he wanted to get his portion of the cattle value and profits. So, at this point, I bought his portion of all the land that was taken in trade. I figured I had better start selling some of the real estate, which I did. I offered financing, normally with 25% down. It didn't take long before I was making more on my real estate than the cattle business.
I made a drastic decision; I was getting out of the family cattle business and into the real estate business. My parents were not very happy with me, but they supported me in my new venture "Petrowsky Real Estate Co. Inc.". I opened my first office Sept. 18, 1970 in Eastford, CT, then opened offices in Putnam, Plainfield, Lisbon, Norwich and finally Willimantic.
For the next 15 years, we grew with the industry and adjusted to the changes. RESPA came in to existence in 1974, that's right, RESPA did not exist until this time. A closing statement for a real estate closing was one sheet of paper. In 1977, I became president of the Northeastern, CT. board of Realtors. In the late 70's mortgage rates were in the high teens. But you stopped complaining when you were getting 15% interest on your savings accounts. Don't we start going crazy when mortgage rates go to 6%?
One thing that became very clear to me, if you could get your real estate transactions financed, the deal died on the vine. There were very few mortgage brokers and the ones that were around, well let's just say, the weren't very good. Banks were the primary avenue to getting mortgages for homes. If you think it is sometimes tough to get your transactions financed today, you should seen how difficult it was then. There was no credit scoring, it had more to do with who brought the banker the borrower or who they knew.
By 1979 I had enough of this way of getting mortgages for clients, I opened up Northeast Capital Funding Corp. The goal was to get mortgages for folks that couldn't get a mortgage from a bank. That was probably 30% of the time.
It didn't take me long to figure out, the mortgage industry was where I wanted to spend my time and energy.
In January of 1985 I sold Petrowsky Real Estate company to 13 of my Realtor Associates. They were actually the first 13 agents I hired. I did an ESOP and sold them the company in that manner. These folks were very good to me over the years, so it was a good way for me to give them something back.
In 1993 I purchased another mortgage company called Access Capital Corp. of America and merged Northeast Capital Funding Corp. into this company. In March of 1997, we did a name change. Crazy how things happen. I was reading this pile of letters that I had gotten from past clients over the previous few years and immediately recognized a common theme. "Thank you for getting us on the right track" Thank you for getting us on the Right Track" Again and again, the same phrase kept showing up.
We did a name change to Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. We are licensed to do business in 8 states, CT, MA, RI, VT, NH, ME, NY and FL. 100% of our business comes to us by referrals, which was the best lesson I learned in the cattle business so many years earlier. The Realtor community and Right Trac Financial Group, has always worked well together, the main reason, I can speak both languages very well.
By the way, I still own "Fairview Farms" after all these years.