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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article


Written By: Krista Goheen
Published By: Calgary Real Estate News
Article Used with permission of the Calgary Real Estate Board. © Copyright Calgary Real Estate News, 2007

Loyalty earned distinction

At 108 years old, Prudential Toole Peet is one of the oldest real estate companies in Alberta. As such, it is synonymous with legendary REALTORS and it was with Toole Peet that Ken Russell built a solid real estate reputation.

Although Ken humorously describes himself as, somewhat of a stodgy person, both his success in the business and the warm opinions from his peers belies this self-deprecating description.

Born in 1922, he grew up in Winnipeg where a love of hockey almost destined him to a professional career in Detroit. Instead, he joined the air force during the Second World War, where he served for four years.

Following his discharge and work with the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, he was transferred to Calgary. A natural in sales, his reputation solidly grew and he accepted a new job as sales manager of Universal Mercury Lincoln.

In 1963, Kens good friend, Al Mackay, replaced Pat Toole as the real estate manager at Toole Peet.

As the years passed, Al clearly foresaw Kens potential.

He convinced me that I might be able to do well in the business and it turned out that he was right, Ken says.

He joined the company in 1967 after taking his REALTOR classes with the board.

The real estate industry has a very good educational program and I was, of course, exposed to all of that, he says.

In 1975, Ken served as president of the Calgary Real Estate Board, the first salesman in the industry to do so - a significant achievement, even more so considering attitudes at the time.

At one time salesmen were not allowed to serve on a board of directors or any other sort of administrative areas and I felt that was a waste of a lot of good talent. This was because there was a different classification of licensing. At that time the broker was the licensee and the salesman was a sort of underlying who operated under the license of the broker.

He worked his way up to manager at Toole Peet in 1980 and in 1982 became director. It was in 1980 as well that Russell became the first-ever recipient of the Calgary REALTOR of the Year designation.

Fortunately my peers felt I was qualified to receive that first award, he says and certainly it was a great source of satisfaction.

Always the consummate gentleman and a most modest person despite his phenomenal success and career in the business, he attributes his achievements to a solitary personal attribute, hard work, and the rest to some very good friends. I found that when I was in real estate and I was exposed to doing a job for a buyer or a seller, subsequently they became friends ant that was one of the attributes that I felt was so worthwhile.

Toole Peet is where Ken would remain for the remainder of his career.

I worked for just the one company and thats unusual. I would say the larger percentage of people in the business work for three or four companies, but I found Toole Peet to be very comfortable. Their reputation was without blemish and I found it comfortable working in that sort of atmosphere.

A humble person, Ken is unlikely to articulate the importance of his work with the company. However, he undoubtedly helped to contribute to Toole Peets admirable reputation.

[Kens} loyalty to Toole Peet is a well-known credit to himself and the firm, according the Toole Peets company history.

He describes his relationship with the real estate board as, extraordinary. At that time Frank Johns was the executive officer and he and I were great friends. All of the people who found themselves with the time to dedicate to the process were all such fun people; I found it a pleasure to be working with them.

Although times have certainly changed regarding the ways in which REALTORS are now able to conduct business, Ken says he feels it is for the best.

Today, technology has given the industry a totally different personality and character and has provided a more regulated performance by members of the industry.

The well-being of the public has always been first and foremost in the eyes of the real estate board and the changes have created an area where any deficiency is more readily visible. I think it hasnt hurt the industry at all, it has improved it greatly.

He describes real estate as a most rewarding way to make a living and says he thoroughly enjoyed his time in the business.

I was exposed to such wonderful people, both clientele and my fellow colleagues. Ive always appreciated the fact that they were the kind of person that I would like to be.

This article was written for Calgary Real Estate News, a division of the Calgary Real Estate Board, for the series “Legends of Real Estate” showcasing important members of the Calgary Real Estate Board. Please visit the Calgary Real Estate Board online.This article is part of the collection of the Calgary Real Estate News. Please visit them online.

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