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A Salute to CRE's Veterans

Austin - San Antonio

Think your company’s managing director runs the operation like a drill sergeant? He may have been one. To honor Veterans Day, we sat down with a couple of Austin’s military vets to hear how their experiences translate to commercial real estate.


Keller Williams Commercial’s Jim Young spent eight years in the Army, enlisting on his 17th birthday. The West Point grad served (as a first lieutenant) as an armor tank platoon leader, a tank company executive officer, and as a battalion air load officer. "One thing I learned at my tank battalion was to seek out the best performing officers and non-commissioned officers and ask their advice on how to accomplish my mission. In commercial real estate, I have done similar by seeking out experience from industry legends and arming myself with CCIM training," he tells us.


Here’s Jim at his West Point graduation in 1994 with his family (including Lt Col Dan Young, his dad, who served more than 20 years as a tank officer, pilot and military intelligence officer.) Jim tells when he’s faced with a new project, he analyzes the most important critical tasks to mission success. “In the military, we had a saying: 'be technically and tactically proficient.’ In CRE sales, that same thought process applies to knowing your client, their criteria and the market,” he tells us. Jim tells us there was a lot of fun and learning opps for him: he went to airborne school/air assault, had breakfast with the Supreme Court Justices for West Point law class and met Gen Norman Schwarzkopf.


Pence Properties’ Bert Pence, who served from 1965-67 as an artillery forward observer with an infantry company in Vietnam (as an Army first lieutenant) as well as on the demilitarized zone in Korea before that. “I experienced a lot of combat, and many moments essentially changed my life from destroying the enemy, to seeing firsthand the devastation of war and the effect on everyone from my fellow soldiers to the native population,” Bert tells us. “But, I tried to always, somehow, see the positive side and maintain a sense of humor whenever possible.” For his actions in the intense Battle of Phu Xuan the day after Thanksgiving in 1966, Bert was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and heroism. He had a life-changing moment after a B-52 strike. Another soldier reading the Army Times found an ad for an assistant to the president of a Dallas-based company. Bert was intrigued by the idea of living in the South, answered the ad, and landed in Texas in 1967 and has been here ever since.