Family Matters: Sporting a New Focus

June 1, 2005

Chuck Hilbert says losing three-fourths of his business in one fell swoop was one of the best things to ever happen to him.

Hilbert, broker-associate at Hilbert Realty Inc. in the Rochester suburb of Webster, N.Y., had been involved in the new-construction market since the beginning of his career in 1987. He was working closely with a local builder, eventually handling about $10 million in sales annually for him. The relationship soured, however, and the two parted ways in 1999.

“Seventy-five percent of my business was coming from that one builder. I had to reinvent myself,” Hilbert says. But rather than scramble to replace the lost business, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity to spend more time with his family and to pursue his other passion, competitive sports.

As he replaced the lost business, he maintained a 40-hour work week, down from 80 hours before. He got involved with coaching son C.J.’s basketball and soccer teams and started playing in an over-30 soccer league himself. An avid skier, Hilbert also began skiing competitively, a pursuit he shares with wife Tiffany and daughter Rachel. In addition, the family takes a minimum of four trips annually, each lasting at least a week.

“For the first 13 years, real estate consumed my life,” says Hilbert, who had watched his father, a real estate practitioner for 40 years, devote everything to his work. “I saw how this business can take over your life,” he says.

“For the past five years, my philosophy has been that you can always make more money but your family is here for only a short time,” he says. “With that mind-set, my business has actually been growing.”

One reason Hilbert has succeeded at striking a work-family balance is his use of technology, including a cell phone, handheld computer, and Internet-based contact management program. He also credits his assistant, Kevin Klem, whom he hired just before the relationship with the local builder dissolved. “He’s grown right along with the business,” says Hilbert.

In terms of business growth, Hilbert posted $16 million in sales volume from 85 transactions during 2004 after handling about $10 million in volume and 65 transactions the year before. He was also named the 2003 REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® of the Year by the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®, of which he’s a current vice chair. He has served on the association’s board of directors since 2001.

Hilbert keeps his business successes in perspective. Business fortunes might come and go, he says, “but your family can disappear pretty quickly, too, if you don’t invest the time that’s needed.”

NAR is promoting work-life balance through a new “FamilyTime ” program it produced with Million Dollar Round Table, an insurance industry group. Pricing for the DVD begins at $5.

For more information, call 800/874-6500.

Chuck Paustian is a former REALTOR® Magazine senior editor.

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