The Liberty Group continues its plans to expand nationwide and we always try to promote within our organization. Dean O’Kelley was the natural choice for the National Sales Associate.
Dean started with The Liberty Group in March of 2006 as a Sales Associate for the Houston area. Dean immediately became heavily involved in the Houston Apartment Association committees. Dean became an Ambassador three days after starting with The Liberty Group and became a favorite member. Why do you ask? Some of Dean’s favorite quotes and his authentic caring nature earned him the Supplier of the Year in 2013. One of Dean’s famous advice he gives regularly is, “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice. “ Dean truly feels that each person he comes in contact with rather it is a new Porter applying for a job or the President of a large Property Management company, to always be nice and care about the conversation you are having with that person. To listen 90% of the time and speak the rest.
The Houston Apartment Association Abode magazine conducted an interview with him and this was taken from it “What’s your strategy for providing excellent customer service, and what does that mean to you?” Customer service, to me, is being there, making yourself available, and to try to do that with all of my clients. Again, things may not be exactly to their expectations, and what I ask is that they let me know as soon as possible, because I would hate for someone to spend time with a candidate that’s not meeting their expectations. The sooner I find out, the better, so that we can rectify the situation. I consider my business almost completely reactive….What I find is that my clients are sometimes far more understanding than I am. I seek perfection, and I realize perfection does not exist. I can give you a hundred examples. I’ve been told many times, “Dean, we understand, and we know it’s going to be OK.”
“Why is the association important?” We are very fortunate to have the association that we do. Everything, in my perspective, is all about relationships, and that is what HAA is all about. I am still amazed by the length and the depth of some of the relationships, and for anyone who is coming on board, I encourage them to get involved as quickly as they can. It can be a little daunting at first. I always like to say it’s like showing up to a family reunion and you’re the only non-family member. But if you just allow yourself to stick out your hand and make some introductions, more people than you know will be willing to help make introductions to you, and you’ll find yourself quickly in the fold.
Dean also earned his Certified Apartment Supplier (CAS) designation early on. He pursed this designation class to get “hands on” experience to understand the industry and to build relationships. Dean feels it gives a company instant credibility, that you care enough to learn their business and helps you stand out in the crowd on your resume. He highly recommends to all candidates who seek to advance in their career to earn their designations. Certified Apartment Manager (CAM), National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP), Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) and the Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS). Go to www.naaei.com for more details or our website for our Leasing 101 and EPA Certification classes.
Dean was the Expo Chair in 2013 and they had record breaking attendance and The Liberty Group received rave reviews from his hard work and contributions. When asked what he learned from it, Dean replied “What I learned was how wonderful our volunteers are. We have the very best and I don’t mean that lightly, the staff does all the hard work, it is hard to mess it up.” We watched Dean spend hours making sure everything went off perfectly and we knew that same passion and drive would help The Liberty Group grow nationwide.
Dean’s first task was to travel to our new branches in Washington, DC and Orlando, Florida. Dean possess the talents to engage clients and our employees. He has an infectious smile and personality, people are just drawn to him. He deeply cares about the multifamily industry and helping find new candidates to experience a rewarding career in the fastest growing industry in the world. On almost every corner you see a new apartment community being built. Therefore, there is a need for new talent. It is not just the many awards and honors Dean has won, it is the many people Dean has touched and inspired across the nation.
One of my most favorite quotes I read from Dean was this. “There will be some travel coming on board…I think of travel, and I’m very blessed to have seen what I’ve seen, but you get yourself out of yourself, and you realize that is very, very tiny blue-and-green globe that we live on. It’s an amazing world that we live in, and we have some pretty amazing people on it, many of which are right here.” When I first met Dean about five years ago, he left an immediate impression on me. I had just started with The Liberty Group in Austin, Texas. He was so excited I had joined the company and immediately gave me his hand to welcome me. He became my own Ambassador and showed me “the ropes” of staffing. I watched him at my first Texas Apartment Association trade show talk to almost every single person and people from across Texas told me over and over again, “I just love Dean, he works so hard for us in Houston, and you won’t meet anyone nicer and more helpful.” He also has a big heart. He loves to do charity work and gets very involved in our own charity events and those of the associations. His drive to help people and to be an Ambassador is why I have no doubts that wherever Dean travels to, he will also leave a lasting impression on.
Congratulations Dean O’Kelley I cannot think of anyone more deserving.
Shonna Schneider (CAS)
National Director of Marketing and Public Relations
The Liberty Group