Brian Watkins of Royal LePage Advance Realty in Campbell River says one of his favourite things about being with the company is the emphasis placed on community involvement and charitable support.

Houses, salmon and giving back

Community improvement and charity are a huge part of Advance Realty’s culture

Charity and community betterment are well-ingrained values in the corporate culture of the Royal LePage Advance Realty office on Shoppers Row.

Thank-you letters and certificates of appreciation dot the walls from causes and organizations that have expressed appreciation for the realtors’ involvement in some fundraiser or another, to the point where even general manager Bryan Watkins can’t keep track of them all.

“I tried to take a count one time of the causes everyone here supports,” he says with a chuckle, “and I had to stop counting, because I got to 30-something and wasn’t anywhere close to getting through them all.”

Royal LePage, as a corporate entity, Watkins says, “has always tried to reaffirm and strengthen the ‘quality of life’ philosophy within our realtors,” in that they believe in selling homes to people in a community they are actively trying to improve.

“If a realtor wants to get involved in something, then we’ll pay their entry fees (to fundraising events), and we’ll match donations, and do whatever we can to facilitate them in some way,” Watkins says. “I don’t think there’s a person in here that isn’t involved in something. Everyone has a cause, from Ducks Unlimited, to the Salmon Foundation, to the SPCA, to Cameryn’s Cause – you name it, and we do it.”

Realtor Mark Ranniger says he, too, tried to compile a list of their charitable interests once.

“One time I asked everybody in the office for a list of their charities and community stuff they’re involved with, and I put them all on the board, and it’s phenomenal how long that list was, “ he says.

“I think it’s one of the strongest reasons that I love it here, personally.”

Ranniger, for example, organizes the annual local fundraiser for Ducks Unlimited, which he says nets the environmental organization more than $50,000 every year.

He’s also one of the people who brought up the concept of a fishing derby – which the company is organizing for the first time this year and has gotten a hugely positive response about – as another way to give back.

“Deanna Collins and myself were having a conversation, and we suddenly thought, ‘Why don’t we have a derby in Campbell River?’ It’s insane.”

Ranniger and Collins brought it up to head office as something they’d like to look into doing, and were immediately given $5,000 by president Stephen Grant to offer up for a grand prize, which got the ball rolling.

“We launched it on Facebook, and the response was immediate and amazing,” Ranniger says.

“We had people phoning and emailing as soon as it went up asking how to donate, when they could buy tickets, and those kinds of questions. It was really something to see the support rolling in.”

Watkins, too, is being overwhelmed by the support flowing in for the event. But he thinks he knows why it’s happening.

“The really impressive thing about it is that from a cold, hard, corporate perspective, there is very little in it for one of the law firms in town, for example, to give us money for this,” Watkins says.

“Like, why would you give us this money? It’s not a great publicity deal, you’re not getting your name up in lights and a million words in the paper, so why are you doing this? But I think if you asked them why they’re doing it, they’d tell you it’s because it’s the right thing to do for Campbell River.”

And that’s why they do what they do for Campbell River.

“Our realtors are to be congratulated in that they are putting money back into their own community – where they live, into schools their kids attend, parks that they play in, fish they catch,” Watkins says, adding that he also thinks it’s why the company itself has seen success.

“Realtors are uniquely positioned to create a quality of life for the people that we make our living from,” Watkins says, “and this company does that more than any other I’ve ever known. They live that. They give back and try to improve the quality of life of the community they’re serving, and I think there’s a direct correlation between that and the success of the company.

“Out of our 50 realtors, there are probably 65 different charities we contribute to,” Watkins says, “and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”