MARSHALL - It was a difficult loss, staff members at Wilson O'Brien Real Estate said. But even as they tried to cope with the unexpected death of their coworker Steve Strautz earlier this summer, they knew they needed to keep moving forward.
"We think it's what Steve would have wanted us to do," said Wilson O'Brien agent Art Olson.
Wilson O'Brien agent Kevin Swanson said last week that he hopes to continue the business' legacy as its new owner. Swanson, a realtor and auctioneer who has been with Wilson O'Brien for four years, has purchased the business. Agents discussed the future of the business together, and "We took the opportunity to buy the business," Swanson said. He said he and his wife Deb, also an agent at the business, want to keep Wilson O'Brien's reputation for service going, but they know they won't be doing it alone.
Photo by Deb Gau
Kevin Swanson is leading Wilson O’Brien into a new era after the passing of Steve Strautz, the previous owner.
"We have a great bunch of agents to work with," he said, "And we've been fortunate to have Art Olson to help with the transition."
Steve Strautz, the business' previous owner and a prominent supporter of the Marshall community, died June 10. He was 58.
Swanson has been a part of Wilson O'Brien since 2007. He had been an auctioneer with his own business for 15 years, he said, when he decided he wanted to be able to offer customers options he couldn't before. Real estate auctions are pretty cut-and-dried, while realtors get to help match a customer with the home that fits them, he said.
"I knew, starting back from when he was in the banking business, I wanted to come work with Steve," Swanson said. "Wilson O'Brien has a tradition of trust in the community," going back more than 50 years, he said.
Swanson's own family has become part of the Wilson O'Brien family, too. The Swansons' son, Andrew, is the latest member of the family to get a real estate license and join the team.
Wilson O'Brien agent Diane Buesing said teamwork and caring about the customer are two of the things that help make the business what it is. Strautz also helped build a foundation of getting involved with the community and attracting new residents and businesses to Marshall, she said. Agents aren't just selling properties, Buesing said. "We're selling the community, we're selling the people."
"It was a tragic thing that happened," Olson said of losing Strautz, but Wilson O'Brien team have kept moving forward. "We have not lost any ground. We've been very busy," he said.