Written by JohnReinhardt
I am Thankful.
I am thankful to my father for having the insight and vision and courage to start our company. I am thankful that he developed a team full of dedicated and loyal friends, of which many we still enjoy the benefit of their efforts, knowledge and friendship.
I am grateful for dad’s willingness to adapt to new changes in the market. Even though he might not have known why we had to do things differently, he graciously went along with trying new things out. Because of his willingness to take a chance on new things, we created a culture of being on the forefront of the newest and best ways to operate a real estate business. We became leaders, and others followed us as they continue to do so after 43 years.
Dad’s great attitude empowered me to go out in the world and discover technology. He didn’t want to learn about technology and explore it on his own, as he believed it was for the kids to do. In my dad’s eye, I was a kid at 30 years old and I believe that if he were still here with us today he would still call me a kid. “We ran this company just fine without all of those machines,” dad would laugh, “I don’t know why we need them now.” He would continue, “just get off your butts and see houses and talk to people and send those silly machines back.”
Of course dad was somewhat kidding around when he would talk about getting rid of the computers, but his points about getting out there in the streets should resonate with us all.
As a son, I was blessed with a strong and loving father. Dad was not only a brilliant business mind, but he also knew how to have fun. Many people would surround dad and want to be around him because they knew that he would be the life of the party. If Bill was there, fun wasn’t far behind. If you really knew Bill, you probably ended up on an impromptu trip down south to Atlantic City on a moments notice. Dad would ask, “Are you in, or you’re out?” If you said IN, you might have ended up in a limo or a private jet or helicopter and you were in Atlantic City within 24 minutes. That’s the way dad rolled.
Growing up in the fast lane, kept me fast and on my toes at all times. There were no limitations for my dad. Dad believed that anything was possible.
One of dad’s famous quotes was, “money makes the blind man see,” and we would confidently walk up to a sold out event without tickets and miraculously make it in and sit in the VIP section, laughing all through the night. Nothing is impossible if you have the right attitude, the willingness to try, and of course if you are a larger than life figure that is well loved and respected. Dad had it all. It wasn’t the money that got us in, but the fact that everyone wanted to please and help out dad, because you knew he would do the same for you if he could.
Another lesson learned from dad was the fact that he was a true leader and never followed trends or people simply because others were doing it. He banged his drum to his own beat. He wasn’t always right, but he was always true to himself and what he believed in, and that is what true character is all about. I recall when the mls was first introduced, dad didn’t like it. I’m not sure if it was because we had most of the inventory anyway or the fact that he felt that he was being pushed into it instead of being a part of the creation process. It seemed like the other brokers of the area teamed up against Fillmore because we were making most of the sales. As a young boy, I remember seeing larger than life signs in the window of each office that said,
“We DO NOT belong to the MLS?”
and we’re proud of it!
Come inside and see the largest selection
of exclusive homes for sale in Brooklyn.
I guess you just can’t take the Brooklyn out of the guy sometimes. You fight for what you believe in, and you fight with all your heart.
Dad’s perseverance paid off as the mls realized that they could not pull off a successful service with 35% of the listings not on the system. The MLS woke up and included dad in on the conversation, and allowed dad a vote for each of his 8 locations at the time. Dad went from not being heard to the most powerful voice in the mls.
Dad didn’t do things just because everyone else was doing it. Actually, now that I think of it, if everyone else was doing it, it didn’t excite dad much as all.
Although dad didn’t fully understand technology, he did think it was cool. I remember when I purchased our first fax machine. I brought it to dad’s house to show him how it worked. He couldn’t believe that documents could be sent over a telephone line, so I was happy to offer a demonstration. When the fax came out on the shiny rolled paper dad did think is was pretty cool, although he didn’t like the fact that it was a little blurry. What dad learn though that day was that the company had a record breaking month and each of the offices productivity was outlined in the fax. Previously, dad would call the office and then write down every offices numbers on a napkin or on the side of the newspaper that he was reading, What made dad so special about this was that he would repeat this story a hundred times to his friends. “John got this silly machine that he hooked up to the phone and I got all my numbers from the offices at my house.” His excitement would encourage me to always try to find the next “fax machine” that would get him excited.
Speaking of motivation, if the fax machine didn’t work out well, dad would not yell or complain but rather say something like, “ I’m sorry that the fax machine didn’t work like you expected it to John. I’m sure that it just needs a few tweaks and it will work fine…and thanks for trying it out, ‘cause that’s what will keep us going forward.” His support taught me to continually try new things, and not to expect every idea to be a grand slam. You only need one or two grand slams to really make yourself a winner. And who really remembers all the strike outs and foul balls when you end up with that game-winning home run?
That’s the basis upon which I have had the privilege and freedom of exploring new things at Fillmore. This attitude and gift given from dad is something that I and Fillmore still benefits from today…thanks to dad.
So, dad, you see that there are a lot of ways that you are still with us today. Your honesty, fairness, your fun attitude, your willingness to try new things, and your determination to stand up for what you believe is right at all times can all be seen in the hundreds of Fillmore managers, agents, and board members that are still here continuing to build the company that Bill built.
Dad is a legend in the real estate industry. Although we could never fill his shoes, each day we try to walk in the same path he has set for us.
Perhaps some might wonder if dad is still running the company. To this I reply, “Absolutely!” His leadership, guidance and lessons are with us today and his spirit will never be forgotten.
So, when you ask me what I’m grateful for, you know my answer.