By Kevin Grimes
When I used to play junior hockey, I would read up about the real estate industry while I was on the road. After I got my licence and became a real estate agent myself in Smiths Falls, Ont., coaching hockey in my spare time turned out to be a perfect networking tool for connecting with new clients. By the time Real Estate Maximums (RE/MAX) expressed an interest in me as a potential franchisee, I had found strong success through community involvement. That strategy continues to pay off today across multiple offices in the Ottawa area.
Lessons from hockey
I was born and raised in Metcalfe, Ont., which is also near Ottawa. Life in the country meant spending a lot of time outside, playing hockey and golf, both of which would prove valuable later in my career.
My first job was picking strawberries at a farm just down the road from us. As a teenager, I got work at a golf course, where I would spend the next six summers. I got to play all the free golf I wanted!
By then, I was also playing hockey at a high level. At 16, I rated well on the draft and went to play junior hockey for the Kingston Frontenacs, an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team in Kingston, Ont. I played with them for three years, becoming captain of the team in my third year. It was pretty cool to have that opportunity and we got to do a lot of activities in the community, such as hospital visits.
After my first year playing for the Frontenacs, I became eligible to be drafted for the National Hockey League (NHL). I got selected by the Colorado Avalanche as a first-round pick, so I headed to a training camp in Denver, Colo.
When you’re a first-round pick, the NHL has two years to sign you. So, when they didn’t do so two years later, I became a free agent and signed with the Ottawa Senators back home. They had a very good team at the time. I played in the minor leagues for another five years afterwards, shipping off to whatever team needed me. I even played as far away as Alabama and North and South Carolina.
As I spent a lot of time down south on the road, riding a bus all night to the next city, I started to read about investing in real estate. I found it a very interesting subject and decided to make real estate my career.
I took real estate courses by correspondence while I was still playing hockey. To get my licence in Ontario, I needed to pass three specific courses.
In my last year of playing hockey, I injured my back. It was the perfect opportunity to exit the game and go straight into the real estate industry in Ottawa.