30 Years in Real Estate? I’m just getting started!

Davis & Company Real estate Madhouse Coffee

Today is a special day. 30 years ago today I earned a license to sell Real Estate.


I thank my friend, Ray Etzler for the encouragement at the time. We were on a phone call about two weeks after I broke my thumb at work. l and he said “you should look into selling real estate. You would probably be good at it”. I also thank my friend Hisham Massarweh of Muddy Waters Coffee, Valencia Street SF who in 1999 after looking at a building with me that I was considering buying for a coffeehouse encouraged me to open my own Real Estate company in the upper flat.


I grew up in San Francisco. My first business was a Chronicle paper route. Yes it was a business. I had to be down at the corner rain or shine at 6:30 every morning. I had to collect the money door to door every month and pay the bills. What every was left was my “profit”. It was about $70. Child slave labor I say! I think I was about 13-15 years old. But what an opportunity! I learned a lot on that route. I met many interesting people. There was a man, Mr. Wall who while I was 15 years old sold me his Triumph Italia 2000. It was a prototype for a TR4 and there were only 200 built. I had to give him a down payment and make payments until he let me pull it out of his garage. I remember that the “throw out bearing” was bad and needed to be replaced. This was my first adventure into auto mechanics. I had to pull out the transmission and replace the bearing. I couldn’t drive the car until I was 16 so I had some time to fix it up. In the meantime I found out I could drive a motorcycle legally at 15 and a half so I managed to get one. By the time I was 16 I had my drivers license, insurance, and a girlfriend. Twin Peaks here we come!


I sold the Triumph and bought a Volkswagen bug which I quickly chopped up and turned into a “Baja Bug”. I traded parts with a guy in the Bayview, Glenn Gellinger who was working on Volkswagens out of his garage. I watched him do this and wondered if I could do the same. I gave it a try and within a short period of time I had a Volkswagen business. I learned how to rebuild a Volkswagen engine all the way down to the crankshaft. Every nut and bolt. I turned my parents garage into a full on VW shop. When I didn’t have customers cars to work on I worked on my own cars to “flip”. I owned over 40 VWs and flipped a few to buy our first house. By the time I was 21 I was married and owned a home. I later went to work for the Broker who sold us the first house, Gerry Girouard at Trotter Realty San Mateo.


The  VW business got so busy that I had to hire someone to help me. Mort Aronsen helped me as a side job. He was working for an airline and talked me into coming to work with him there. I would get benefits and free airline travel!! Now we’re talking! Let’s go see the world! Working for Pacific Southwest Airline as a ground mechanic for 7 years has been the only real “job” that I have had. I was able to take three and a half weeks and travel to Europe after working there a year. We walked into a used car dealership outside of Frankfurt and bought a used Mercedes and took off south down the autobahn. 132 MPH (I have photos of the speedometer) HA! Good times. I even got to drive a semi tractor trailer to the Pacific Northwest a few times to deliver airport equipment to newly opened airlines while working at this job.


in 1986 we refinanced the first home from 12.5% interest down to 8.75% and pulled money out to buy a second home. We rented out our first home. I was about 25 years old and I was interviewing people to rent our home. I had read the book “Landlording” so I was ready to go! One of first prospective tenants asked me if I really owned the home! I ended up renting the home to a biker with a blind Pit bull.


We later traded the little one bedroom home for an apartment building and ripped the roof off of the second home to add a second story. By 1987 I was working at the airline and selling real estate part time. I had Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off from the airline to work real estate and I got off at 4 o’clock every day. So while I was standing around the time clock with the guys in coveralls waiting to “punch out” I was in a suit and cleaning my finger nails. I was grinding. Working 11-14 hours a day about 7 days a week.


The market had already started to decline 6 months before the ’89 earthquake. and by 1990-91 it was in a tailspin. It was then that I had my second story addition framed up, I got laid off from the airline and we got pregnant. The trifecta! Time to do the hustle. And I have been hustling ever since.


30 years goes by pretty fast. When I started there was no internet, cell phones were attached to your car (attached antenna was a status symbol) and the fax machine had just come out. Don’t leave the fax on the dashboard of your car!


In about 1997 my friend Roland helped me set up an internet site for real estate. He had me get a domain name that was about a foot long. We had to strip down the photos to about 25k so they would load up on a dialup internet service.I bugged him a few times about putting together a Real Estate platform to sell to other agents but he always thought it was too much of a vertical market. We could have been Zillow! LOL


I went to Coldwell Banker in 1997 and spent 3 years with them when I got the opportunity to buy the commercial building that we are in now. We then opened Ron Davis & Company Real Estate and 18 months later Madhouse Coffee. We opened Madhouse Coffee a few days before 9/11. I could write another long post about that day. I am very blessed to have been able to buy that building. Thank you Annegret Myers! Many thanks to Karyn Tham who worked with me at the opening of Ron Davis & Company. She was a trooper! Good times! We have recently changed the name to Davis & Company Real Estate.


There are many reasons why people get into real estate. Three reasons stand out to me. One is that they are in “sales” and want something else to sell. Another is that they left something else such as retired or got laid off and need a new challenge or identity. And another is that they are an entrepreneur and a problem solver. Looking at my history I would say number 3 applys to me. During the purchase of our second home I said to myself “I could do this, and better than my agent”. The call with Ray confirmed this.


I am grateful to have a team of agents, Michele Jauregui, Bianca Matta and James Ball to work with as well as my wife Danette who stages our homes for sale so well and my son, Chris who manages the coffeehouse. My daughter, Madison is now on the City Council and she’s darn good at it! Watch her on Channel 27!


I’m looking forward to new challenges and executing new ideas that are bouncing around in my head. One of them is a new Podcast that will be coming online soon! Watch for more information. I will be the host and we will be talking with interesting people with interesting stories. My goal is to do 50 episodes. I will be donating $100 for every episode that I air and I am looking for people who will match me. Fifty episodes is a lot. This is like one of those jog-a-thons only better! I hope my guests will inspire you! 20 people donating at $100 an episode will raise $100,000 for local charities. That’s $5,000 per person. Of course you don’t need to be involved at that level but it would be great to have you on board.  Let me know if you are interested and I will contact you with more information. I’m not asking the guests to donate but they are welcome! The first 10 episodes are lining up well and should be fun.


Thanks for all the good times so far! And by the way, if you know someone who could use our services please introduce us!




Davis & Company Real Estate



(180 , 1)