From Gold To Sold: 5-Time U.S. Winter Olympic Medalist Begins Commercial Real Estate Career
At 32, after winning five medals across two Winter Olympics, former U.S. speed skater Chad Hedrick was at a crossroads. A life spent pushing himself faster was at an end. With hardly any life skills after tens of thousands of hours of training, Hedrick had to practically reinvent himself.
“People think you win a gold medal and you’re on easy street, but you’ve committed your life to one thing so it’s limited your skills in other areas,” Hedrick said. “As much as I accomplished, it was an injustice when I entered the real world."
Hedrick chose to bypass college to focus on his sport, leaving him little to show for his time spent competing at the highest levels of international sport other than sharp social skills and a good contact list.
After trying out several jobs, including sales at Halliburton, Hedrick turned toward real estate. He started as a residential real estate broker. The first house he sold, a friend's, closed for just under $1M.
Soon Hedrick got the attention of lifelong friend Trey Halberdier, founder of Halberdier Real Estate, who wanted to bring Hedrick into the world of commercial real estate.
“Chad doesn’t know, but I was always secretly working on him,” Halberdier said. “Former athletes and members of the armed forces, people with some kind of disciplined background, thrive in this environment.”
Since getting his license nine months ago, Hedrick has completed 20 deals.
Now Hedrick is in a leadership position at Halberdier, focusing on fundraising, commercial development and building out a team of residential brokers for the firm based in The Woodlands, outside of Houston.
Hedrick revolutionized the inline speed skating world with his unique technique, called the double push. During his career, he won 93 national championships and 50 world championships. Hedrick’s first Winter Olympics was Turin 2006. He took gold in the 5000 metres, silver in the 1000m and bronze in the 1500m. At the 2010 games in Vancouver, Hedrick earned a silver in the team pursuit and a bronze in the 1000m.
At his peak, Hedrick was skating 175 miles a week with a 100-mile bike ride on the weekends. With that level of legwork, stairs became the enemy. Hedrick would sometimes go downstairs backward so he would not fall.
When he left the speed skating world, he realized his Olympic-level dedication and perseverance was going to be his greatest business asset.
“At my first job, it almost looked like people were vegetating,” Hedrick said. “That’s such a different world then from where I come from.”
Hedrick said that even though he did not have a college degree or much expertise in real estate, he knew he could outwork everyone around him. For Hedrick, work is not a 12- or 14-hour-a-day job. It is all day, every day, because that is what it takes to be the best.
“I have the freedom and trust to do what I want because Trey knows the work ethic I have, plus, now I have a family of five to provide for,” Hedrick said.
In 2006, shortly before the Turin Games began, Hedrick asked Lynsey, a woman he had been messaging with on MySpace, if she would like to fly to Salt Lake City, where he was training, for somewhat of a blind date. She took him up on the offer, and a month later, she flew with him to Italy for the 2006 Games in Turin.
As an Olympic athlete, Hedrick was not able to spend much time with her, but his parents could not stop raving about her. Hedrick married Lynsey in 2008. They now have three kids, 8, 7 and 3. Their eldest was just old enough to see him compete at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
These days, Hedrick struggles a little to simply watch the Olympics.
“It's tough. Every time you watch the Olympics, you think you can still do it,” Hedrick said. “These days I sit back and just try to enjoy it as a fan.”
During the Opening Ceremony's prime-time feature Friday evening, Halberdier Real Estate and Hedrick will be hosting an event to raise money for local military and first responders.
"I used to be the best in the world at something," Hedrick said. "Now I'm just a guy trying to start something new."