June 2016

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34 Mobility | June 2016 PATHWAYS: HOW I FELL INTO MOBILITY e Industry I'd Never Heard Of By John D'Ambrogio, CRP, GMS, GRI I've never really met anyone in my life who knows a relocation industry exists, unless they've been "relo'd" themselves. When my kids were young, I asked them what they thought I did. Daughter: "You help people when they have to move." Son: "You go to cocktail parties all the time." Well, they're both right. But how did I fall into it? Unwittingly, as most of us did. My goal was to be the next great copywriter. I aspired to be a Mad Men character two decades before the show was conceived. Armed with an advertising degree, I left the University of Illinois and began writing radio and print ads, eventually producing corporate videos, and finally made the big time as an account manager at a Michigan Avenue ad agency in Chicago. "Hit the big time"—or so I thought. Eighteen months later I was burnt out and grinding my teeth in my sleep. In an effort to segue out of the agency business, I interviewed for a job that I found in the classified ads, for marketing manager of an apartment rental agency. At that point I was ready to be a bicycle messenger. I got the job, and with no other instructions besides "make our marketing better and bring in business," I got to work. One of my ideas was to take the local Chicago business magazine's weekly "top 20 list" of largest companies, minority-owned companies, largest banks, etc.—the list changed weekly—and send them direct mail pieces promot - ing our services. This was the early '90s, and frankly, the apartment rental industry was not a bastion of professionalism. So as an afterthought, I created and trained a team of agents to work with the transferees. (The marketing paid off—relocation companies and corporations were calling me directly to place referrals.) This afterthought soon became a major source of revenue and an additional business line for my company. Frankly, I still had no idea this was an industry of any size or consequence! Eventually, I received an offer from a destination services provider (DSP) client to come over as a con - sultant. They had a cool downtown location and casual Fridays, so I accepted. Thus I was introduced to the entire relocation world. I eventually bought half the company. Soon after, an offer came to revive the reloca- tion department of a major Chicago brokerage; I like a challenge, so I sold my interest in the DSP and went to the broker side. I enjoy it so much I'll never go back.

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