Chad Schwendeman, Broker/Owner
Exit Lakes Realty Premier

7153 Forthun Road, Suite 120
Baxter, MN 56425

Direct: (218) 831-HOME (4663)

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The first in the office every morning and the last to leave, Exit Lakes Realty Premier Broker/Owner Chad Schwendeman built his thriving company the same way he's approached everything in life: through dedication and strong work ethics.

Even as a child, Chad displayed uncommonly keen selling savvy during the annual school candy bar sales drive. Later, he exhibited inexorable tenacity when at the age of sixteen he rode his bicycle across the country to raise funds for the American Lung Association.
"We rode from Seattle to Atlantic City," he recalls. " My mom had quit smoking and got into bike riding and so did I. The bike trip took forty-seven days and was the largest group at the time, to make the trip. There were over 600 of us and we raised two million dollars for the American Lung Association. When I look back, there were times when I really wanted to quit, but I learned you have to suck it up sometimes when you have a goal in mind."
His already highly developed sense of commitment served him well when he attended college and worked full time at Trade Home Shoes, an independent company with over 110 stores across the Midwest.
Not surprising, his strong work ethic moved him progressively up the ladder at Trade Home Shoes, eventually leading to his position as District Manager and Manager of the Mankato location, which at the time was the largest volume store in the chain.
"During my seven years with the company I'd been in several locations including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin," explains Chad. "It finally got to the point where the President of the company said, 'We'd like you to be a supervisor and go on the road. I wasn't married at the time and I thought, if I make a move I'll have to sacrifice my personal life, I won't have the opportunity to build a relationship, because typically supervisors work 28 days a month with one weekend a month off. I realized that if I accepted this position my job would be my family."
It was the next move in his meteoric rise but the sacrifice was just too great. Chad knew that he wanted to meet the right person and start a family, so he declined the promotion. Of course, there were other factors as well. For one, he wanted to return to his childhood home of Brainerd.

"I lived in Brainerd my whole life and I wanted to get back up to this neck of the woods," he says. "So I started inquiring. I loved real estate, I owned some rentals in Wisconsin and I thought this is an opportunity for me to go out and work hard and build something, but work for myself and have a little freedom. I wasn't afraid of hard work or long hours since I'd grown accustomed to working 80 hour weeks,"
Almost as if by providence, Chad discovered a real estate company for sale. Tower Real Estate, was a small independent firm that had done less than two million in sales the previous year.
"The gentleman that I bought Tower from was a very nice man," says Chad. "We wrote it into the sales contract that he would stay on board for two years and serve as the active broker so that I'd have time to get my broker's license. So, I moved back here and basically jumped in with both feet. It was the best move I've ever made!"
Meanwhile, Chad had a friend who was also district manager for Trade Homes Shoes whom he wanted to bring on-board. Travis Banks was someone Chad knew had the wherewithal and work ethic to make an excellent partner.
"Travis told me to go ahead and if I didn't fall on my face then he'd join me," Chad says with a laugh. Needless to say, about six months later he joined me and bought 20% of Tower."

Tower Real Estate now has five equal partners, three of whom come from Trade Homes Shoes.

"We all knew each other and have a great camaraderie," Chad happily explains. "Our first year in business we did 13 million."

And, they've only continued to grow by leaps and bounds: 36 million in the second year, 51 million the third year, 65 million the fourth year, and over 75 million the fifth year. "I have to give a lot of credit to Trade Home Shoes," says Chad with appreciation and modesty. "They instilled a terrific work ethic. There's a saying that I love that came from Jeff Gordon in his rookie year as a racer. He was leading the points at the time and someone said to him, 'Jeff a lot of these drivers out here say that you're lucky to be leading the points.' Jeff turned to him and said, 'you know, the harder I work the luckier I get.' And that's kind of the motto that we live by."
Tower Real Estate has since joined a national franchise and has become Weichert Realtors - Tower Properties, which has improved our business immensely providing us with even more wonderful services to offer to our clients. Which is what we call "The Weichert Difference" providing: Online Marketing, Enhanced Open House Program, Price Trend Analysis and our Amazing Call Center. Weichert Realtors- Tower Properties employs about 30 Realtors but Chad has also created his own team within the company.

"I decided this was the best way to develop my business," he says. "In reality, I probably spend about 70% of my time with listings and 30% of my time with buyers, so I hired a full-time buyers agent-Jeremy Perlinger. Jeremy has been with me for a little over four years and has been a great asset to the team."
Chad also has an assistant Kathy Hartman. Kathy is kind of my right hand person, she insures that our listings get the absolute maximum marketing coverage possible, she also follows up on our clients to keep them informed about their listing, provides feedback from showings on listings and sets up open houses for the weekend. This is quite a responsibility because at any given time we'll have 50 homes listed and probably just as many land listings just for my team. Kathy does an excellent job to make sure our clients receive exemplary service.

Chad says that constant communication with his clients is one of the most important concerns for his team.
"One of the most frequent complaints we hear about other agents is their lack of communication with their clients," he says. "After every showing we send out a feedback form in the mail, they get copies of every ad we run, we also send out bi-weekly letters with market updates and either myself or Kathy will touch base with them every other week."

Apparently, all this special service and one-on-one attention has paid off. Not only do their sales numbers continue to rise but referrals and return clients are at record highs.

And there are other indications that Chad's business approach is exceptional. For instance, he went from a top shoe sales representative with no real estate experience to being named Brainerd Lakes #1 Home Seller in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.

"We're really proud of that," Chad says with humility. "It's the result of a lot of hard work and determination to get to that level. I'm really proud of my team."

There's another group of people that Chad is extremely proud of and that's his wife Melissa and their two children ages 5 and 7.

left I can't imagine my life without my wife and children," he says. "I know how lucky I am. My wife is amazing and very understanding about my long hours. I try to make up for my long weekday routine by trying to be home by four on Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for family. Of course, there are always exceptions, but it's something we look forward to. I also encourage members of my team to take time off for themselves and to spend with family."

"I feel very blessed to call Brainerd home," he says. "Many of our friends have second homes here and we watch the long lines of cars every Friday night heading north so they can enjoy this beautiful town for two days. Then, Sunday night it's another long line as they head back to the rat race. We're very grateful for this incredible quality of life."

Authored Susan Cushing, Broker/Agent Magazine
Photography by Tom Stancampiano
Chad Schwendeman

Chad Schwendeman

Contact Chad at:
     Phone: 218-831-4663

  © 2006 Chad Schwendeman
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