This is Our Story - Chapter 1: Foundation
We had a problem to solve. Like so many of us out there, we knew exactly what we wanted and simply could not find the solution. I have always believed that at their core, entrepreneurs are problem solvers with the ambition (and often the ignorance) to believe that they can solve difficult problems. Not just any problems, but problems without obvious solutions. Problems which have been attempted many times before, by others, without success. Problems that, left unresolved, would prevent us from living the fullest version of life we possibly could and even keep us from becoming the people we needed to be...
It's almost like being born. You're in this dark place, and on the other end of it is nothing but light and noise. It was a feeling of doing what you were put on Earth to do. I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for that background football. What we do here, that's truly a differentiator and better than what any other brokerage in the Valley does is we develop people. We take raw talent. People that have the desire to be REALTORS®, to be top producers, to make a big difference in their clients' lives; and we're able to bring them into the right environment, give them the tools, the training, the mentorship, the leadership to get them where they want to go.
Amherst Madison is a different kind of company. In an era where real estate brokerages are obsessed with hyper growth and flashy technology, we are making long term investments into our people, our space, our tools and our environment. This is a company that's built to last. Building a company from the ground up is extremely difficult. I can remember times of complete isolation working late into the night at the office and then having to be back first thing in the morning to unlock the front door. About a year after I started the company, half of my agents left in one weekend. They just walked out.
As difficult as those times were, I also remember the people who were there from the beginning. People like Matt Bauscher, Nikele Wood and Jamie Patocka. I had to do a lot of things remotely, and I didn't get paid for a while. I have two small kids, they're running around, I'm trying to have business conversations. There's no money, there's no nothing, you want to be better, but the funding isn't there. When you believe in something, you just go for it.
I knew a lot about Nick before Amherst Madison, and I've always believed in him. Everybody that has built a company has sacrificed. What there is now, is, it's amazing.
Nick had sold me on the idea that if I got my real estate license, that I should strongly consider working with him. If he's the leader, he's going to take you with him.
They saw something and they stuck it out, for me on a personal level, it means everything. Amherst Madison is built on that kind of work ethic and dedication.
I've watched that company grow - Amherst Madison from a small startup to what I'd call a mid-major in the marketplace. The company seems to really develop a culture of having their agents be successful through hard work, innovative techniques, great technology platforms, and they just really present well.
We put people in community first. The giving circle. It was Nick's idea, and he started and was behind it the whole way. You can't have a thriving, profitable businesses without a thriving, healthy community. These values are worth building on.
I don't really think of myself as a REALTOR®, to be honest, I think of myself more as an adviser, somebody they can turn to for a multitude of reasons. I think at Amherst Madison, it's quality over quantity and our average sales per agent is one of the highest in the state and it's not a coincidence. I think client relationships are the oxygen of your business.
When I grew up here, there was dozens and dozens of dirt parking lots down there. We want to build sustainability and we want to build a company that lasts. The second you walk in the room, you can just feel that it's just different. At the core of that difference is that people are here not only to become the best version of themselves, but to do that in a team environment. We're extremely passionate about the business of developing people and placing them in an environment where they can be successful. This is my path. This is our path, forward.
Although he has kept laughing, His road in the Boise real estate world has not always been a laughing matter. Mike, like so many of us, has faced incredible challenges as he has started his journey into what will no doubt be a tremendously successful and decorated career as a Realtor®.
I'm lucky I was good at football. It was football scholarship that took me from Sacramento to Boise State. It was the beginning of who I would become, and it was a teammate of mine who showed me my true potential. My college experience was everything I can ask for. I played football for a legendary football team and made lifelong friends.
I took a job at the end zone near campus during summer in off season. When I graduated in 2009, I kept the job at the bar. I was getting by making rent with a couple of roommates and enjoying life, though with little direction. The job at the bar lasted about seven years before my lack of direction hit me harder than I'd ever been hit on the football field.
I was working late at the bar one night and had to close up alone. I was going through the routine task when I got to the bathroom. They're in front of me was a puddle of somebody else's bad choices on the floor waiting for me to clean up. As I was pouring bleach on the mess, I had a moment of clarity. It was part disappointment and part realization. I thought, I am a janitor. Then I screamed out loud. I'm a janitor! Something had to change. I had to evolve.
My mom encouraged me to get in the real estate. I never gave it any consideration until I had a conversation with my old friend, Nick. I mentioned to him that I thought about being an appraiser, but Nick steered me to being an agent. The thought was daunting. I knew I would have to study for the difficult test, not just the complex rules of real estate, but there was math and math wasn't my thing.
Nick in the Amherst medicine team was incredibly supportive. It took me more than one try to pass the tests, but they were there with flash cards, encouraging words and a positive mindset that I could feel when I was around them. With their help and a few tries, I passed my test and became a real estate agent.
Life had just started to move forward with me when my mom got sick. Cancer. While hoping for the best, we quickly learned she didn't have a lot of time. I need to help care for my mom. I need to take care of my little brother, who was only 15 at the time. It's what you do for family. The outpouring of support from the Amherst Madison family was never more apparent. They had my back. They kept my business going when I couldn't be there. They closed deals for me. They stepped in and maintained relationships with my clients. Their support and they're positive mindset continue to carry me through the process of adopting my younger brother after my sweet mother passed away.
In addition to financial independence, my time at Amherst, Madison taught me how powerful my thoughts of my own mind can be. This knowledge has taught me how to set, visualize and conquer my goals. I now live in a house I've dreamt of. I drive a car I'm proud of. I spend time fishing with my son on the boat, that was once just a picture on my wall. My experience at Amherst Madison has been more than just a job. It's been the door to financial freedom and giving me the strength and confidence to take care of my partner, Meghan and our two amazing kids. It was my team on the field that drove me and inspired me as a young man, and my experience at Amherst Madison that set in motion the man I have become.
CEO and Founder Nick Schlekeway shares, “It’s not just her knowledge and experience Eva brings to Amherst Madison every day, it’s her heart.” From a childhood lived in the dark shadow of the Cold War, to a top producing real estate agent, coach, entrepreneur, and Broker of the Year; Eva's is a story of triumph and inspiration.
I've always found strength when I needed it most. I came to Boise to open my own karate school. I trained in San Diego, and I was a brown belt. I want it to become a black belt. But it didn't want to just join another karate school. So I started my own. Karate was where my journey of confidence and inner strength began, and moving to Boise led to joining Amherst Madison.
I was born in Munich, Germany. My parents just barely escaped the Czech Republic during World War two. My parents found refuge in Germany. At eight years old, I remember hearing bombs go off from my bedroom. My father worked for a radio station that broadcasted news about the Cold War, funded by the US government. This allowed my parents and I to gain US citizenship and immigrate to America when I was 19.
It was everything I wanted it to be. I enjoyed my freedom and took solace in the inner strength I found in karate. I got my real estate license in 1998 and worked diligently until the market crashed in 2008. My husband and I had to get creative about short selling our house. We lost everything.
While clipping coupons, I took a job as a delivery driver for FedEx to make ends meet. I was determined to continue in real estate, which was a balancing act, to say the least. I changed into my business attire in my truck. I attended closings and then changed back into my FedEx uniform to finish my route. I did this for eight years.
I joined Amherst Madison in 2015. The training at Amherst Madison was a revelation. It started my business and launched me from 0 sales to Partner in one year. I became Designated Broker in 2018 and won Broker of the Year in 2019. My financial success since joining Amherst Madison has allowed me to go to Europe to visit my family, and to have the freedom to give back to the Alzheimer's organization.
In 2018, I lost my husband. It was then that my Amherst Madison family stepped up and supported me. You see, I only have one brother, but at my husband's funeral, just about every one of my colleagues showed up to comfort and support me like family. The next day, I led our training program elevate. It was difficult, but I've learned from studying karate that you only have the moment; you don't have yesterday or tomorrow, and if you miss out on moments, you miss out on life.
Amherst has changed my life both professionally and personally. Together, we are impacting lives of others. We truly get to make a difference in the community by helping people. It's the clients and agents I get to work with that encourage my strength and make me want to be the best person I can be. If you set limits, those limits will hold you back. But if you are willing to take opportunities, you will grow.
Learn more about Amherst Madison Founding Partner and Top Producer, Matt Bauscher.
I'm Matt Bauscher, I'm the founding partner at Amherst Madison legacy. I have a beautiful wife named Lindsay and a precious two-year-old Princess named NYA. I graduated from Boise State. I played basketball for the Broncos. Then I spent six years playing professionally in Europe. I got my master's from Concordia in Irvine, California. We moved back to Idaho. I got into real estate full-time and I haven't looked back since.
It was just amazing how we'd go and look at a home, and we'd be kind of, I don't know, they might be not priced right and just the Matt's competitive nature was just it was awesome because he's like, let me deal with that. That's my job. I love living in Boise so much that when somebody calls me up from Tennessee or Texas or Alaska or Houston and they're thinking about moving to Boise, Idaho, it gives me goose bumps. I get so excited to tell them about every little pocket, every restaurant, every bar, every park. I mean, I just love the Valley here. So when that phone rings and they're thinking about it and they're in Houston, Texas, right now, it makes me really excited.
One of the most impressive things to me about Matt is you've got a guy who's done a hundred transactions in 2016. He's the only individual agent that I know of in the entire state, do that many transactions. But when I talk to his clients, they're all thrilled. Moving to Boise is a pretty stressful experience, but working with Matt made it completely stress free. He would answer our calls and our texts back right away. Matt's a former basketball player, so he's got that competitive spirit, a lot of energy. He was coming to us with potential properties and really made the process pretty easy.
His passion and his dedication and hard work really pays off in the long run for us as a family, but also for his clients because he is going to bat for them. We are so excited. I'm totally just in love with where we're at. I love real estate because I love building personal relationships. Every client has different wants, different goals. And I love catering to them and making a difference.
Matt's energy is contagious, and he's a constant reminder to me that it's not always what you say, but how you say it. It was like working with family. It was quick. It was easy, and you knew that he had your interest in his mind. It's good. We love Idaho as a whole. We love traveling around our state and doing things outdoors with our family, and we just think it's absolutely beautiful here. We love it.
If you're thinking about making a real estate move and you want an agent who's fun but yet professional. Email me, call me or go to my website.
This interview took place in 2019. Nick Schlekeway and Eva Steinwald describe Amherst Madison origins, the struggles of growing a young company, and what matters most.
There wasn't a single person in my life that thought that it was a good idea for me to leave the fire department and open a real estate brokerage, not one. I mean, family, friends, mentors, people that I know my whole life and respected said don't do this, this is a bad idea, take a leave of absence. I mean, people wanted to do interventions with me. They thought I frickin' lost my mind. Do not do this. This is a bad idea.
Well, Nick Schlekeway, Amherst Madison and Founder, I started the company, I guess it'd be five years ago now, July of 2013. My name's Eva Steinwald. I'm the Designated Broker of Amherst Madison here in beautiful Boise, Idaho, and I've been the broker for, oh my gosh, it's going to be two years. I've been licensed here in the Valley since 1998 so almost a quarter of a century, it's quite a long time.
The brand embodies a lot of who I am and things that I learned prior to business, prior to real estate, and things that I carried with me in my life. You know, for example, just the idea of the name and where it came from. Having a name that was meaningful and having a brand that was meaningful. You know, we wanted it to tell an impactful story and we wanted it to be something that obviously checked a lot of other boxes. That was quality, that was representative of who we were. That was visually appealing that we could pick up and take with us wherever we went.
When someone sees an Amherst Madison sign, they see consistency. They see professionalism. They see an agent that is knowledgeable, that has support from their brokerage and that has the tools to serve their client, their seller in marketing and closing the transaction. We were obsessed with client services from day one because I saw it as a big gap in our market, and in a big gap in the industry that we could come in and fill as a brokerage that really was focused on the client, what they needed, you know. Not being transactional and not just trying to get to the next closing. Not just trying to maximize your dollar per closing as a brokerage and as agents, but saying what can we do to sort of redraw a new line and redefine what it means to add value to people through real estate transactions.
So why don't we just focus on taking care of people and on doing it right, and building a better client base - and and as an extension, building a better community, I think. Going the extra mile. I mean, if you have a client that is selling and they can't get their house cleaned on their own - hire someone. I mean, our agents do that. I mean, just going the extra mile, making them feel special that you really care about them.
The reason why you have a standard like minimum production is the same reason why you brand the way that you do. It all has to drive back to your core values, drive back to your mission, why you're there and what you're trying to accomplish as an organization. So if we want to be a professional organization, then we have to have standards. What's even more important than that is you have to have people that are willing to enforce those standards because standards don't do you any good unless you have people that are willing to watch them. So you're looking for people that match up to that. Is it easy? No, it's hard. I've made a lot of mistakes. I've brought people on that that, hey, it just didn't work out for a variety of reasons. So you're looking for people that can fulfill these standards and fulfill the mission of the organization.
It's not just a company with a whole bunch of agents. It's a company where each agent is knowledgeable. They're not part time agents. They consider real estate as a profession, and that's important to us because it sets us apart from lots of other brokerages. By doing that, we bring the seller - value. Hey, the fact of the matter is, is that if you're not out there in the marketplace active on some level, you know, even if it's less than the average agent or more than some agents - but if you're not active on some level, you cannot be a fiduciary to your client, right? If you haven't sold a house in years and years or you sell one a year, do you really know the market? No, you don't. That's something people don't really talk about with real estate sales is the best way to know the market is to participate in the market. If you're not participating in the market and you're not doing trades or in this case, sales, you know, it would be like a stock broker that never does any trades. How well do you really know the market? I mean, you can read charts and graphs until you're blue in the face. The market is us. The market is people.
People set the market. The person has to have a lot of energy. I always ask, what is the most difficult thing you've ever been through in your life? And that really tells me what, how they face challenges and the way I look at an agent, the agents that we have, they're willing to go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.
One of the questions I always ask people is tell me about your goals with regards to real estate. Why did you get your license and what are you looking to accomplish with it? Then just let them talk, and they will tell you a lot of what you need to know about what their motivations are. You know, if somebody jumps in and they immediately start talking about money, it's kind of like, that's a red flag for me. Are you going to be a transactional agent that's just trying to show people through to the next closing? Or are you going to try to create customers and clients for life and really try to impact somebody?
The fear is real, and in fact, if you don't feel it, there's probably something wrong. When you have fear, it overtakes your mind, it paralyzes you. I look at fear as a way to step outside your comfort zone, and if you don't do that, you're not going to grow. It's supposed to feel that way, right? If it doesn't feel that way, if it's not scary, if it's not uncertain, if it's not complicated, you're probably not doing something right because that's how it feels when you're trying to push and drive change.
The reason agents have fear is because they don't want to be rejected, but you have to get rejections to be able to be accepted and to get clients. It takes so many no's to get a yes, and you just have to trip. You get up and you run. You don't trip and just kind of stay down. You get up and go.
After a while, you kind of learn to trust your gut and you really learn to listen to that part yourself. You know, but a lot of times it's just Frankie fear standing there trying to get you to quit. It just takes one yes, to be successful. Just takes one yes.
The Inc 5,000 was special because it made us realize we make a difference. I knew about Inc magazine, you know, and I think I just talked to my assistant at the time and that we should look into that, you know, how much does it take just out of curiosity? What kind of percentage growth do you have to have to get in something like that? We started checking it out, and low and behold, we actually were well qualified and were 715 on the list out of 5,000. I'm anticipating we're going to be on it next year in the top five hundred.
The future of Amherst Madison really is being part of the community. We want our Treasure Valley, when they think of real estate, they will think of us because we are part of the community. We're not just here selling homes, but we'll be integrated into the community and that's important to us. That's where the future is going to be. So we are a little bit on the wild side when it gets to giving back to the community. We have Make-A-Wish foundation where we do the polar bear plunge, and that's once a year and it's kind of an initiation for new agents. They have to plunge into Lucky Peak January 1st and we raise lots of money for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Then, of course, our Giving Circle, which is our first year. We also are involved in Alzheimer's organization where we do the walks, and then every agent has her own little charity that they are involved in. We support them as much as we can because it's just giving back and being part of the community. I think that's what's going to make us different and stand out from other brokerages.
You know, the new building shows that there is amazing growth, and the growth only comes from what we do. It's not about having 300 agents, it's really making a difference. By doing that, we get rewarded by being able to have a bigger building, and that building is going to be right there on Benjamin and people will see it. I'm really looking forward to that. I want it to be part of a family of a group that cares for each other, and that's what we provide. That's what drew me to Amherst Madison, and I think that's what keeps agents here because we're more of a family. We're not just a number, but we all care for each other.
How have top producing agents like Matt been able to leverage the marketing tools, resources, and support provided by Amherst Madison?
The marketing resources here at Amherst Madison are honestly never ending. You have a team that's with you every step of the way. We have different platforms and philosophies. Whenever we have new agents come over, they always look at this and they get overwhelmed with all the tools and resources we have there. They're shocked at the amount of help and guidance Amherst gives the individual agents.
The marketing is all tailored towards the individual seller, so from the first time I made contact with the seller, everything is elaborate, dialed in for that particular seller. Their goals from the time we make first contact until the time we're telling them, hey, the deal is closed. They love it.
Every seller I've had, I've had great relationship with. We've gotten the goals they've wanted. They love the brand. They love the marketing philosophy. No matter if you're seeing my Amherst Madison listing or another person's, you're going to have that high standard. To me, somebody's most prized financial investment, there's nothing to be casual about. It's life or death doing everything it takes to get that thing sold.
We continue to invest in our company, we're investing in our marketing, we invest in our Sellers. We're seeing a lot of success and we're going to continue to ride this wave.
The cornerstone of an abundant mindset is where people accept that a rising tide lifts all boats. Abundance and love form the foundation of success and fulfillment.
Amherst Madison is #28 on the 2019 Inc. 500 List. A prestigious ranking of the Nation's fastest-growing private companies.
Our agents have one of the highest productivity and profitability ratings out of any brokerage in Idaho.
New building coming in 2020. We're building on the future of our industry, not the past. We believe clients deserve more from their REALTORS®, REALTORS® deserve more from their brokerage, and the community deserves more from us all.
Come join our growing team!
We have been able to travel as a family, and gone to over 30 countries. It's given me an appreciate for art, design, architecture, other cultures, and most importantly t has given me a sense of openness just for accepting people in different walks of life but coming back to Boise is coming home.
I think I am able to share that with my clients, knowing that it does have so much to offer and there is nowhere like it in the world.
Growing up in the North End in our home, it was older, it didn't have all the bells and whistles of a new construction but it was home. I remember at one point my dad wanted us to strip all the wood to bring back the natural color, and I was like I am doing it, I am determined, I want the results, I am not going to give up. That's just the way I do business. I think it is all about digging deep, doing what no-one else wants to do, and then just the results that come are so satisfying.
Our team goes above and beyond, and has been hand selected because of their professionalism and the talent that they have to get top dollar out of each property we list. I can see a property and I have an instant vision of like how could this be better? Sometimes it's a matter of just painting a space or doing the landscape. Small changes can result in thousands of dollars in sales so it's to elevate the space and maximize the profit.
Just doing this personally, I know what it takes. We own multiple rental properties; buying, renovating, it's pivoting and moving quickly as you see something come up and it seems like a good fit. To jump on it, to be instinctual, to have that gut of just knowing it's a great deal, great investment. The only way you can get that gut feeling is being in the trenches every day, and that's what I do and I love it.
There is a creative side to it, and design is something I love. It is something that has always been a part of my life. I love clean, I love bright, I love airy, modern with a touch of organic is my favorite style. I think there is something special about being in a space that is luxurious and is beautiful yet feels like home.
Luxury means something different to everyone but at the end of the day the most important thing in terms of luxury is the details. It's how you create something that no-one else has and for a client to trust me to do that means everything. What it comes down to is knowing the market, having a gut instinct, and getting results for my clients - every day. That's real estate.