Garner steps up at WRAR

by Patricia E. Matson
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Staff photo by Joshua Curry

Ashley Garner will be installed as the new president of the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors on Jan. 20.

Although he wonít be formally installed until Friday, Jan. 20, Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors president Ashley Garner is already working on strategies for this year and beyond. He said his leadership experiences in the real estate field give him a strong foundation for planning.

Garner moved with his family from Salisbury, N.C., to Morgantown, W.Va., when he was 6, but returned to this state for his freshman year at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He finished his accounting degree at West Virginia University, but was happy to be able to move to Wilmington six years ago.

"Itís like living on vacation," Garner said during an interview on Monday, Jan. 9. He and his wife, another native North Carolinian, toured coastal towns in the state before choosing Wilmington, a no-brainer he said because of its combination of beaches, plays, concerts and shopping.

Garner said he never considered any career other than real estate. His father was a commercial broker who also flipped and rented properties. Garner and his sisters grew up helping with maintenance, collections and other aspects of the business.

Since he began working professionally in the field five years ago, Garner has gained experience in appraisals, commercial real estate sales and development, and property management. He has also dabbled in investment properties.

"Residential sales was my last frontier," he said.

Past president Dave Hilliard and active member David Eggleston Sr. initially encouraged Garner to run for the WRAR board of directors. Two years ago, Garner was elected vice president; last year, he was simultaneously the president of the Multiple Listing Services board and the president-elect of the WRAR.

Garner believes that his wide variety of experience enhance a leadership position that allows him to see everyonesí points of view. He said the WRAR is a harmonious group, yet with a member base that ranges from appraisers to commercial real estate brokers, those members may have different priorities; his mission is to make decisions that support the careers of all of the members.

In addition, his understanding of financial issues is an advantage, he said. He has already drawn on it heavily while dealing with the drop in membership due to the housing slump and while helping to oversee the construction of the WRARís $4.6 million, three-story, 25,000-square-foot headquarters, which opened on Sept. 28, 2011. He is very proud that although dues had to be raised to pass along rising costs from Multiple Listing Service providers, the new facilityís cost did not contribute to that necessity.

Future challenges include dealing with the shrinking role of multiple listing services as consumers find their own information online. Garner said a big part of his mission was what he called strategic stretching, not only thinking creatively about current problems but brainstorming about what issues might arise later.

Garner said WRAR is ahead of the curve compared to other Realtor associations on technology, financial planning and policy, partly due to its phenomenal staff. Standards are high from the top down to every level.

Garner said it is his nature to be heavily involved, and he has already benefited personally and professionally through his service to the WRAR, including improvements in time management. He also loves talking with and learning from other Realtor associations at the local, state and national levels.

"Knowing what I know now, I would do it again in a heartbeat," Garner said about his WRAR leadership track.

Outside of work, Garner serves as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church and is on the board of the United Christian Campus Ministry. In addition, he likes to run, having completed a couple of Beach2Battleship half-marathons, and he earned a private pilotís license this summer. He and his wife had their first child in November.

After Garner finishes his term, he will still be heavily involved as a leader, serving formally for a year as past president.

Garner will formally be recognized as president at a banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 at the WRAR headquarters at The Terraces on Sir Tyler Drive. Other officers and directors taking up their positions include vice president Jody Wainio and president-elect R.J. "Alex" Alexoudis. The Realtor of the Year and Salesperson of the Year will be named, and Hall of Fame Awards will be presented.

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