“Life is all about transitioning from one stage to the next. Everything is always a transition,” said Chad Hedrick, founder of the Gold to Sold Group and former Olympic speed skater. Hedrick and his team provide the best possible service to the luxury real estate market in Houston, Texas. He founded the Gold to Sold Group in 2017, and the organization now represents the “gold standard” in the Houston housing market.
Below, Hedrick spoke with HousingWire about his gold medal career in speed skating, career jump to real estate and how the leadership skills learned from athletics prepared him for leading a team of all-star agents better than anything else could have.
HousingWire: Before we discuss your current career in real estate, can you tell me a bit more about your past experience as an Olympic speed skater?
Chad Hedrick: I grew up skating a lot because my parents owned the roller rink in our town. I found that I had a knack for it at a really young age and spent many hours at the rink. I was a “rink rat,” and I decided at a young age that I wanted to be the fastest skater in the world. When I first started skating, I was on conventional skates — ones with two wheels in the front and two wheels in the back.
When I was 14, in-line rollerblades came out, and I started racing on rollerblades. We traveled all across the country competing. At 16 I turned professional and started getting paid as an athlete. For 10 years I competed and had endorsement deals, but at the end of the day, I would tell people what I did and they wouldn’t know what in-line speed skating was. So, I decided I wanted to try something that people would recognize.
I packed everything up from Texas, moved to Utah and pursued an Olympic career in high-speed skating. That journey started in 2003. About one year later, I became the world champion. And, two and a half years after my first day on the ice, I won the first U.S. gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
My story is similar but also different from many other people’s stories because life is all about transitioning from one place to the next. Whether it be a position at a company or the growth of your personal company, everything is always a transition. You have to accept the challenge and not be frustrated with change. You’ll face adversity that could be discouraging, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I was so glad that I was able to prevail in accomplishing this challenge of mine.
HW: How did you make the transition into real estate? What motivated that move?
CH: I didn’t find real estate, real estate found me.
I relocated from Salt Lake City, Utah, back to Houston with my wife, and I really went through a bit of an identity crisis. I had done one thing my whole life and I had sharpened this one skill and not really paid attention to anything else, which if you’re going to be the best in the world, then that is what you have to do.
At 32 years old, my skating career was over because I was competing against athletes who were 10 to 14 years younger than me, so it came to an end.
But, when I came home to Houston, everyone who was successful was in the oil and gas industry. I didn’t have any formal education, but I weaseled my way into the oil and gas business. What I discovered was that I was starting a new career, working for people my own age who had already spent 10 years after college building their careers. It was difficult for me to go from being the best in the world at something to answering people my own age. I really floundered for quite a while. It got to a point where I knew I had to do something else. I had to take control of my destiny. And, one of the biggest real estate brokers in our town at that point gave me an opportunity.
HW: What was the greatest learning curve getting into the new industry?
CH: Originally, it was just me. Serving clients, showing up to the closing table and getting paid were all great, but it was a lonely business for me. I was used to traveling with a team: a sports psychologist, a coach, all of these people were always around and we would celebrate the wins or work to understand what we needed to do to get better if we came in second or last.
I realized that having a team was really fulfilling to me and I wanted to be able to use these leadership skills that I developed as an athlete. Now, we have a team here in Houston and it’s been incredible to use the competitive spirit — lessons my father and coaches taught me — to be able to challenge and inspire my team and enjoy this business.
HW: You mentioned leadership skills and a competitive spirit, how have those attributes from your prior experience in athletics helped you become a better real estate agent?
CH: I’m wired to win. Winning could mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. When you’re winning, it may not be closing the most deals, it could be developing relationships along the way. It may be helping others to grow in this business. You have to find what really pushes you. For some people, it is all personal and financial gain, but for me, I realized that I needed more than that. To me, it’s about nurturing and building the relationships around me.
HW: What does the market look like in your area?
CH: Houston has always been a more stable market. We don’t see the fluctuation that other parts of the country do. We’ve seen a lot of growth, of course, over the past two or three years like everybody else. But, it is still a seller’s market. Everything that is priced correctly sells within a week or so. I put up three homes last week and one sold in three days, the other two sold in a single day. It is all about supply and demand, but we feel like rates are going to come down in the next 18 to 24 months. Once rates are back in the four to five range, real estate is going to be going gangbusters again.
HW: Gold to Sold has quite the team of agents, how has the team atmosphere enhanced your real estate experience? Is it at all similar to the team environment in athletics?
CH: Before creating the team, I felt like a man on an island, selling homes by myself. It’s a business where you’re with someone new every day. If you want to do great, then every day you have to go after it again and again. I didn’t have a team or coaches at first, so it was so important to me to establish that environment.
I started with my wife’s aunt, she came in as my partner. And quite honestly, we haven’t really pursued people or recruited them. Our team attracts people who want to be a part of a team because it’s been such a great experience. I want to help someone be the best they can be and to see an agent that you brought into the business close 30 deals in their second year, which is unheard of in this business, it makes you feel really respected as a leader.