Martin named the recipient of the 2014 William R. Magel Award of Excellence in REALTOR® Association Management.
“REALTORS® have such great life stories, and they really represent the last frontier of individual entrepreneurs,” says Bill Martin, CEO of the Michigan Association of REALTORS®, explaining what he enjoys most about being in the REALTOR® family.
Like the members he serves, Martin has a great life story. He served his country in the Army, wore a badge as a state trooper, represented his county in the state legislature, and ran the state lottery and the state prisons before joining the REALTOR® association in 2002.
“I have been blessed with a great many opportunities to serve,” he says. “All of them presented their own challenges and rewards.”
Martin currently sits on the board of the Michigan Society of Association Executives and is a trustee emeritus at Western Michigan University, his alma mater. He is a past board member for Habitat for Humanity (the organization’s Public Official of the Year in 1999) and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, Martin was appointed to the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Board of Directors and Executive Committee by Gov. Rick Snyder. In 2012, the governor appointed him to the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Martin’s involvement in state political, governmental, and legislative issues is deep and multifaceted.
“REALTOR® organizations have always been significant players at the state level, particularly in state legislative races and constitutional offices,” Martin says. “However, the one area where the associations are starting to engage more fully is the Independent Expenditure space.”
The power of local REALTOR® associations to rally members and home owners to participate in political campaigns that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate is growing across the country, he says.
“This expands the advocacy tool box for REALTOR® organizations and, in doing so, makes us a real power on several different political fronts. There are few, if any, associations that can play as significant a role as we do in that arena,” he says.
And with the new core standards focusing every association on advocacy initiatives, the REALTOR® organization’s role is further expanding.
“There is no question that being a federation has increased our ability to engage in the political process in ways we could not have done by going it alone. As we work together in Michigan, both at the state and local levels, to achieve these new standards, I believe it will help create a stronger bond and level of trust between the organizations.”
Pausing to reflect on the organizations he has led, Martin says: “Out of all the great opportunities I have had, not one of them offers the opportunity for making long-lasting friendships like the REALTOR® family does. I have said that REALTORS® could visit every state in the country and stay with a friend in each. In fact, I might try that—I think it would make for an interesting book.”
Not only because of his leadership accomplishments but because of his warm and open leadership style as well, members and AEs seek his advice.
“I like to think the best advice is simple advice,” he says. “Whatever you are doing, do not make things more complicated than they really are. Regardless of how sophisticated your association is, regardless of how much technology you have and how big your budget is, the biggest asset you have will always be your people. They are the ones you will live or die with and actually do the work. Treat them with respect and give them praise.”
Martin will be officially recognized at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans during the BOD meeting Nov. 10.