Longtime Realtors reminisce about early days

Gather longtime DeHoff Realtors real estate agents together and the stories flow. These Realtors have hundreds of years of experience among them — and almost as many memories of working for the DeHoff family.

Gather longtime DeHoff Realtors real estate agents together and the stories flow. These Realtors have hundreds of years of experience among them — and almost as many memories of working for the DeHoff family.

Jerry Mazanec, who has 30 years with the firm, and Byron Stavrou, who has 35 years, recall a time when agents were touring homes that had just been listed for sale.

“We went into one house that was an absolute mess,” Mazanec said. Inside, Ardis (A.J.) DeHoff opened a closet and “a whole bunch of stuff fell out … it almost knocked her over the sofa,” Mazanec said.

Without missing a beat, she said,“My what a spacious closet,” he remembered, laughing. “Ardis never had a bad word about anything.”

“I’ve never known a more positive person,” Stavrou said.

JoAnn Grisak, who began her real estate career with DeHoff in 1976, said A.J. used to do role-playing with new agents to help them learn the about ins and outs of real estate.

“She had high expectations of us. What a wonderful teacher! I always say I learned from the best,” she said.

Patty Fugate-DeVille, who has spent 37 years with DeHoff, called A.J. “the foundation” of the company.

“She was my mentor,” she said, noting that she taught Realtors the importance of a positive attitude. “We could have a rough day and a bad transaction going, but she always said, “Put a smile on your face because when you pick up the phone, you can hear it in your voice.’ I always remembered that.”

Stavrou remembers his early years, when he was working in the attic of one of the South Main Street homes that the DeHoffs converted into office space.

“I worried about what I’d do if there was a fire,” he said, because there was not an exit on that floor. “I mentioned it to Bob and Linda.”

The next day, he came into work and there was a heavy-duty chain-link fire ladder sitting on his desk.

Mazanec recalled the winter day in 1982 when he interviewed with the DeHoffs.

Bob took him out to The Boroughs in Lake Township, a residential area the company was just beginning to develop. But Bob ran out of gas and the two were stuck until A.J. and Glenn brought a can of gasoline to get them going again.

That sense of family helping family is what makes the DeHoff company unique, the Realtors said.

“I remember Glenn put his arm around my shoulder one day and he said, ‘You look a little stressed,’ ” Mazanec said.

He remembered Glenn giving him a word of encouragement that day and reminding him that problems can become opportunities.

“It’s kind of like a little family here,” Grisak said.

Realtors consult with one another and problem-solve together and Bob and Linda are likewise ready to lend a hand. Stavrou and Grisak said they feel like “they’ve grown up” with Bob and Linda.

“The DeHoff family business includes all of the agents like family.There is a special closeness of everyone willing to help and share in all we do thru thick and thin,” Karen Belden said.

“That creates a special bond throughout the company,” said fellow Realtor Jo Anna Belden.

The DeHoffs are always looking for ways to improve and stay ahead of the pack, said Dave Maltese, who has worked for DeHoff for 16 years.

“The DeHoff family is always thinking ahead to maintain a high level of customer service, including ways to incorporate the latest technologies for our Realtors to assist buyers and sellers in the most efficient manner,” he said.

Grisak said the DeHoff company’s success comes in large part from the fact that it is run by a family that is committed to serving area families.

Fugate-DeVille said she has enjoyed being able to work for both the husband-wife team of A.J. and Glenn and now Bob, Linda and Dan. Although the leadership of the company has changed, the three qualities that drew her to DeHoff when she was starting her career remain: exacting standards, integrity and professionalism.

“Anything they do, they do it top-shelf,” Mazanec said.