Editor’s note: As part of our online special Real Estate Quarterly this month, we asked several longtime employees of Ebby Halliday Companies about the late founder of the real estate firm, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. To hear Ginger Gill speak about Ebby Halliday, click on the links in each quote.
When you’ve been in the real estate business for 75 years, it stands to reason you’ve seen a few things – although maybe not a pandemic.
Recession? Check – even of a couple of them. Oil bust? You bet. Real estate bubble burst? Sure. A surge in the use of technology to power offices and sell homes? Absolutely.
But a pandemic? Maybe not so much. But Ginger Gill, who now runs Ebby Halliday’s Preston Center office, said that if the founder of the company she works for was here right now, she would be rolling up her sleeves and getting to work.
“You know, what she would be our biggest cheerleader, and have the most positive attitude, no matter what happened, whether it was the recession, whether there was a pandemic, every was, she would have been out rallying everybody,” Gill said. “She would be talking to us. She would have figured out the technology of how to do Zoom meetings. And she would be a perpetual cheerleader. And she was always there to serve agents.”
She believed in servant leadership and she raised all of us to believe in servant leadership. I mean, it’s just, she would be doing it. She would be learning the technology. She would be talking to everybody. She’d be trying to cheer everybody up. She would be the proverbial cheerleader for us all right now.”
Gill said that she felt fortunate to have been able to develop a close relationship with Halliday and with Mary Frances Burleson, who served as Ebby Halliday Companies CEO and president before passing the torch to Chris Kelly. Burleson now helms the Ebby Halliday Foundation.
The two tapped Gill to take over the Preston Center office – the first new person to run the operation since it opened in 1976.
“They knew it was going to be a rough, rough go, and the two of them would call me every day, she would come over to office meetings. She called me over to her house,” Gill said. “I mean, there is no failing when you’re around Ebby. She looked at everything, her cup is half full, and she’s going to make your cup half full. I mean, she was amazing, absolutely amazing attitude.”
Gill said she also marvels at the fact that Halliday started a company at a time when women couldn’t even have a credit card in their name.
“Think about it – that woman opened this company, women in Dallas, Texas, did not have the right to vote,” she said. “You couldn’t buy something without your husband’s permission. And she opened a company.”
Gill said that much of Hallidays legacy is attributed to her attention to detail – and the personal attention she gave her agents and employees.
“She just had such an incredible attitude about everything. She helped us through the recession. She counseled you. She called you over to her house. She had papers all over the desk and she’d say, ‘Honey, I’ve been worried about those numbers. Let’s sit down and think about what we can do to help them be better,’” Gill said. “I mean, that’s the person that she was – she truly cared about every agent and every manager and every employee in this company. I mean, it was just, she was an amazing human being.”
Gill said that she also was certain that Halliday would be thrilled with the direction her company has taken, too, including its acquisition by HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, in 2018.
The legacy of Halliday in North Texas now includes 2,000-plus agents and staff across three real estate brands and affiliated mortgage, insurance, and title companies.
The Ebby Halliday Companies have grown over the years through strategic acquisitions, including real estate brands Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate and Williams Trew, as well as strategically located offices to serve the growing North Texas region. Today, the company can take a home buyer through the entire purchasing process thanks to Ebby Halliday Realtors, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, Williams Trew, and affiliated core-services companies Prosperity Mortgage, Home Team Insurance and Texas Premier Title.
“I think that she would be thrilled with where the company has gone to. I think that she would be thrilled with the technology,” Gill said. “She knew that we needed all this technology to be able to compete. So I think she’s in heaven doing her happy dance.”