Rookie of the year brings HEFT, in contracts and work ethic

All County Team man, in business and heart

by Tara Gilligan Reimer


True story. A guy works in a smelter (aluminum manufacturer) for 18 years, gets recruited to real estate by a chance fill-in at a clinch bowling league match (Mark Frye seems to turn up at exactly the right time), and completes a rookie year by putting together 50 contracts.

You know where the story is going.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Lori Reece recently named Brian Hefter RE/MAX Whatcom County’s 2021 Rookie of the Year, praising his hustle and continuous learning.

It’s where the story started that’s surprising.

A good son

“My dad made me get my first job when I was 14, to earn extra money,” Brian says. At 23, “I went to work for Reynolds in Longview, where my father worked.”

From the start, Henry Hefter told his son, “You better work hard and not embarrass me.” Brian laughs, “That’s been my mantra ever since.”

His father’s advice was dead-on for manufacturing. Smelting is physically demanding and dangerous, and smelters rely on each other for safe practices, less like a work team and more like family.

Fortunately, Henry’s advice also applies to real estate, where your reputation is everything. Brian also had a loving example in his mother, Terry. “She taught me to be kind and keep my promises,” adds Brian. Every rookie needs sound coaching. Brian acknowledges his good fortune in parents who taught him what was most important in life.

Mark Frye’s buyer broker

Brian signed onto managing broker Mark Frye’s All County Team in late 2020 ( Base camp was the Glen, the recreational mountain community that Mark reverse-engineered, conducting primary home contracts out of second- and third-vacation property buyers in Maple Falls, Washington.

Working in one place made sense for Brian. “The Glen became my only focus until it became second nature to me,” he explains.

In that one vacation community, the year-one broker learned fundamentals: 1) why to ask for a buyer agency agreement, 2) when to proceed to the next ask, a primary home, 3) and how much courage you need when you’re new. “The David Knox training was helpful, and I often thought about his 30-second rule, when I started to second-guess myself,” Brian explains. When you’ve taken a risk on a new career, it’s easy to ask if you can make it in the next five years, or ten. “Knox breaks it down: in the moment, in the contract, you just need 30 seconds of courage.”

Besides learning fundamentals, Brian also invested in accredited training, extracting knowledge from recognized professionals. (Brian’s certifications come from these recognized industry leaders: National Association of Realtors, Certified Multiple Offers Expert Designation, e-PRO, and Accredited Buyer’s Representation.)

Finally, he relied on his work ethic, learned from his father’s example. “I have two rules,” Brian offers. “Keep your customers happy. And treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Brian is also careful to point out: “I would not have succeeded without Mark’s dedication to the Glen for years. Also, Julie and Shayla were just so helpful.” (Julie James is Team Manager while Shalya Lerner is Systems Manager.) Then Brian invokes the litany of names—the five pros on one team known as the CEO, CFO, IT & Marketing, and Directors of broker and client services. “I’m just so grateful to Lori-Lisa-Michael-Jennifer-Ashlee. RE/MAX feels like one, big family, where everyone wants the best for you.”

Family man

Has Mark Frye read all the studies of how happily marrieds and long-term couples can also be more successful? (Inc. magazine, “A Supportive Marriage Can Make You a More Successful Entrepreneur. This Study Shows Why,” by Minda Zetlin, Sep 2020.) Because when Brian says, “I owe everything to my wife” the interviewer thinks, three for three. Another All County man.

Brian and Lisa have been married for almost five years. She’s a Lynden girl and, notably, Chief Operating Officer of Peoples Bank. “It took me until my 40s to find my soulmate,” Brian says quietly. “Lisa was the one who said, ‘I think you’d be successful as a broker.’”

“Sharing your life with those you love is what it’s all about,” he adds. He sounds like the newest broker to All County: Justin Kirby describes his wife, neuro-ICU nurse, as “my hero.” Also, Brian echoes the guy who started it all: Mark refers to Julie James as “team manager” and “my beautiful wife.”

Real estate pros, serious sports fans, and grateful husbands. A band of brothers, grinders, and achievers with blue-collar work ethics.

These All County guys.

Man in the middle

When Brian’s Rookie of the Year win was announced company-wide, Mark took a moment to name every contributor on his team—Julie, Shayla, Lindsey, Josh—and ended with personable and heartfelt appreciation for Hef: “We all love ya, man.”

Behind the scenes, Mark, ever the conscientious managing broker, was a bit concerned. While Mark had just received a write-up for his RE/MAX Hall of Fame award ( and new broker, Justin Kirby, also got a featured introduction ( ), it was Hefter who was top concern. “What Brian has done—THAT is the most important thing,” Mark insisted.

Sometimes our life’s path takes such a sharp turn that we surprise ourselves. We’re in our forties and meet our soul mate. We change careers and score success. We find power in learning and confidence in being uncomfortable.

That’s the power of being a rookie. The man in the middle, the one learning from his lead and inspiring the other coming up, is always the most important. Ask Mark Frye and Justin Kirby. They’re thrilled to run with this Rookie of the Year.

About us. Thirty years ago, a local girl (Sehome High School, Washington State University & Western Washington University grad) launched a small start-up with a big dream. Little did RE/MAX Whatcom County founder and CEO Lori Reece know that her company would become not only the most successful brokerage but also respected nationally and across industries. Her team, 90+ sought-after professionals, leads by serving thousands of clients and building market share. Learn, collaborate, be kind. When you’re doing all that—together—you know you’re in RE/MAX Whatcom County, the house that Lori built.

Tara Gilligan Reimer loves to find the story in place and people. There’s always another story inside the published one, and in this feature, the backstory is about husband-and-wife team editing. Brian and his wife, Lisa, offered edits that helped make this story precise and tight. They followed the editing examples of Mark and Julie as well as Justin and Christina, in their previously published features. The All County Team runs well, all the way through. This is my eighth feature on RE/MAX, the best brokerage in Whatcom County and the agents who lead, with brilliance and passion.