Charleston feels like a second home to me and I’m a big fan. Fan enough to allow my two daughters to both come here to attend college. It’s also been Solid Earth’s second largest customer since about 2002, when one of my daughters was in third grade. They grew up hearing about Charleston through me as I traveled here often to attend to the needs of our very valued customer.
Through all of that time, Terry Ketchum has been at the helm of the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS Terry manages the association with a quiet gracefulness that belies the difficulty of the job. An association executive is part diplomat, part sheriff, part marketer and part den mother and full-time psychiatrist. Terry has done those jobs and more through the biggest challenges in modern real estate and she’s still there, and popular, and amazingly sane. So the connections in Charleston are deep for us, and we have not even mentioned The Director of Customer Happiness or my oldest daughter, the College of Charleston educated event planner, who helped us put this event together, or what this Summit thing is all about in the first place!
When I did the first training session at the Charleston offices near the airport, Dick Cain, the Director of Customer Happiness, introduced me after banging a stapler on the lectern. He told the class gathered to hear about the new MLS system from Alabama that I knew more about the system than any of them ever would and that they better listen or he would not answer their questions when they called!
Hence the title.
But Dick turned out to be that rarest of finds, a true gentleman, and he and his wife Betty remain friends today (Dick also helped me find a handyman for my daughter’s condo). After Dick retired, for the third time I think, Terry brought in a new young IT professional from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Jen Blalock. Jen had a Microsoft Certification and brought a new level of technical expertise to the post of MLS Director and helped Solid Earth modernize much of the early LIST-IT installation. Jen went back to MUSC and Terry hired another IT professional from one of her brokers, Joseph Collum, but again, Jen and I remain friends and share tales of College of Charleston students to make sure none of them are about my daughters!
Now, ten years later, working with Joseph is different than working with Dick or with Jen. But it’s working out really well to have his perspective from the broker’s side of the table (he used to be IT at Carolina One Realty). Joseph is a sharp guy and a dedicated CTAR brand champion. He even attended a technical learning expedition with our software development team to Seattle Interactive last year, just to see what he could learn. How cool is that? On that trip Joseph got to spend time with our development team, and another MLS Exec from Louisiana Ken Damann. Having customers so engaged in our work is really rewarding to us, and it speaks to the value of working together as partners on such large enterprise software projects. We thrive on collaboration!
And that brings us to the Summit, what are we doing here?
In addition to Charleston, Solid Earth operates MLS systems about 25 cities, across 14 states, and they are all coming into Charleston to receive an update from our Executive Team and talk about the next year. Last year at our meeting in Atlanta, we announced the development of an entirely new MLS platform, built from scratch for tablet and smartphone mobility. Now, a year later, we’re making progress with the new Spring MLS platform and we’ll show everyone where we are on the project. We’ll also be discussing the change management plan we have suggested as a way to gradually move from LIST-IT to Spring.
The migration from the LIST-IT system to Spring will be carefully done and not hurried. We propose that there be no forced “cut-over” to Spring and no price changes. Spring will be offered (as soon as it’s been reviewed by each MLS staff and/or committee) to the existing LIST-IT membership one city at-a-time and will run parallel with LIST-IT. That will allow people who have used LIST-IT, some for as long as a decade, to learn the new system and move over when they are comfortable. It’ll be up to each customer to decide what their group wants to do at the end of their existing contracts of course, but Spring should be a viable option this Fall.
To learn more, contact comment on this post or contact Bill Fowler by email. Or come see us in Charleston! We love the place so it’s a perfect forum to host a meeting for some of our best friends and customers. I hear The Director of Customer Happiness might make a guest appearance!