Amy Reid is a Minnesota native and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The newly hired CEO of the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors didn’t study anything to do with real estate, however, while growing up in the Upper Midwest. Having recently lived in the Vail Valley and Parker, Reid shared with the Business Journal her first impressions of Colorado Springs and what it’s like to grow her trade association — and botulism.
How did you get to Colorado?
It’s a random story. My roommates in college were all on the ski team. Around my senior year our apartment was being torn down [in Madison] to make room for the Kohl Center, which is where the [University of Wisconsin] basketball and hockey teams play. My roommates said they were going to Vail for three weeks and asked if I wanted to come. I ended up staying a little longer than three weeks — I stayed for eight months. But I went back to Wisconsin to graduate and then moved right back to Vail. I fell in love with Colorado. There’s no other place on Earth I’d rather live.
Did your degree have anything to do with real estate?
I have a degree in food science, which I haven’t used since I graduated. But when I got here, I was thinking I might switch and finish school in Colorado. Even at 21 I realized it was smarter to finish [in Wisconsin] rather than add two or three more years in schooling. I honestly thought I might be in Vail a few years and lived there 16 years. I got into real estate when I first got there working the front desk, then went to work for a large developer and got into association management with the Vail Board of Realtors.
Talk about your introduction to real estate.
I worked the front desk at Ron Byrne and Associates. I was an executive assistant then and got my license and moved to Slifer, Smith & Frampton, which is the largest real estate firm in the Vail Valley. I did marketing, public relations and operations. Then I moved to sales. I wanted to do sales to move up in the operation, but I like the back end of real estate more than the sales. I always say I love what my members do, but I don’t want to do it!
The downturn hit and my broker didn’t need me full time. I ended up working for Vail Resorts’ development company in club sales. In addition to golf clubs, there are ski clubs and parking clubs. You drive up, park your car and you’re met with your skis by your ski valet. There’s a deposit and monthly dues. I did sales and marketing for them and worked a lot with real estate brokers in the valley. When a new person moved to town, we would talk with them about those clubs.
Then, the CEO of the Vail Board of Realtors put in her notice because she was taking a job elsewhere. I was getting calls and emails asking if I ever considered her job. I’d say no, but after the fourth call, I figured maybe I should be doing this. I applied and got the job.
I left Vail for the Colorado Association of Realtors. The state association is in Englewood, but I lived in and worked from Parker. I really wanted to move into a larger association. When [former PPAR CEO] Terry [Storm] announced his retirement, I threw my hat in the ring.
Talk about the association.
There are about 25,000 members at the state level, and here we have about 3,400 members. We’re the third-largest in Colorado after Denver and South Metro Denver. About 70 percent of members live between here and Fort Collins.
I’m the CEO of the association, as well as our multiple listing service, which is the Realtor Services Corporation.
We have a board of directors for both organizations and they really set in place our strategy, vision and mission, and it’s my job to implement those through our committees and staff. I do budgeting for both organizations. I work with staff a lot on advising and strategy. We have a strategic planning session coming up in June and that will be my first with this association.
The Realtors association is the largest trade association in the United States, but we encompass Teller and El Paso counties. We advocate for private property rights, home ownership. Realtor members also work at the state level so it’s easy to practice, but most importantly, so it’s easy for Americans to buy and sell property and do what they want with their property. We also are involved with the [Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC] and the Downtown Partnership to be sure we have a vibrant, healthy community.
Did you have an impression of Colorado Springs before you moved here?
Yes. Colorado Springs is much more like the mountains than I expected. It’s a much more tight-knit group and much more diverse and more is happening here than people in other parts of the state realize. A lot of people think it’s all military, but there are so many exciting things going on here. … It’s a pleasant surprise. It’s a bigger city than I thought, but feels like a small town. And it’s beautiful.
Assess the health of the industry.
We’re struggling with lack of inventory. People may want to move here but can’t. Properties are going on the market and last for only days with multiple offers. It’s healthy but we need inventory. We also work a lot with the Housing & Building Association, but inventory is an issue across the country.
What about younger people forgoing homeownership?
Homeownership is at an all-time low, but it’s only a few percentage points off. The Millennials are starting to move out of their parents’ homes. But in Colorado, Millennials are looking for multi-family condominiums in urban areas. We’ve had issues with construction defects, so we weren’t seeing the building of multi-family units outside of apartments, and we just had some success at the state Legislature on construction defects. … Millennials will be the next great wave — our next Baby Boomers.
You studied food science in college?
Growing up in Minnesota — Pillsbury and General Mills are there. My stepfather was in executive placement and two of his biggest clients were General Mills and Pillsbury. He would come home and talk about what food scientists did. I knew I wanted to be in science then. It was really fun and interesting. I focused on the bacterial side and food safety and stability. When I was in college, organic was a new marketing ploy and trans fats were all the rage.
Do you still think about food science?
During the downturn I did. There aren’t many food science programs in the country, but there’s one at Colorado State University. I thought about going back to school for my master’s degree.
Are there similarities between food science and what you do now?
None. There’s a big difference between getting food through pipes in a plant and looking at real estate daily. I miss growing things on food — getting your Petri dishes off the shelf two days later to see what grew. … I worked for the Food Research Institute. Large companies would send in food products for research and development. … I got to try and grow botulism on this meat product once. That smell is still stuck in my nose.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the association, the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors.