Irish lad Keith Ellis moved to Armidale four years ago. He tells Focus readers about his life in the New England so far.
What brought you to Armidale?
The opportunity to experience Armidale came from a local rugby club, Barbarians RUFC. Several emails with then president Lucas Brown, and Sam Piddington, culminated in my arrival in the New England. It’s been four great seasons, and I’ve made some exceptional friends who have played a huge part in my time here. In 2013 I decided to settle permanently in Armidale and looked at possible careers. I’ve always been a people person and enjoy the thrill of the sell. These go hand in hand with real estate, and it’s proved a very rewarding choice. I now work with Professionals Armidale, after getting my start with Ian Brookes at LJ Hooker. Without Ian and Rod, I may have ventured off to a city in search of opportunities within the industry. Things have really progressed since joining the Professionals Group. We have a great team of dedicated employees and complete access to training. No story is complete without a leading lady, and that’s Jess. We were introduced by a mutual friend at the St. Kilda in 2012. We have just spent Christmas at home in Ireland with my family, which was a great occasion, having been three years since my last sojourn journey.
How does life in Ireland compare to life in the New England? What do you love most about Armidale?
Irish society is quite insular in a lot of ways and has rigidly defined ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable to do. I think Irish people, particularly young Irish males, fear to express themselves or indulge their interests if these interests fall outside the norm. Conversely, Armidale has a great community of people who work very hard but still manage to keep a relaxed viewing of others. A great example of the community spirit here was the recent Christmas lights scattered throughout Armidale’s streets, with the sole purpose of putting some smiles on neighbours’ faces and bringing some festive spirit to the kids. Simple gestures like these make Armidale a community I want to be a part of and contribute to. The climate is one thing I don’t miss about the Northern Hemisphere. I much prefer warm summers and mild winters. The Irish have this thing about umbrellas. It takes one drop for them to get their brollies out and makes for an uncomfortable environment. Over here on the other hand, a quick sun shower is welcome to clear the dust or cool the afternoon.
You are involved in many local activities; tell us more?
I play rugby with the Barbarians, and have done since my first game in Yamba, 2011. It was also my first attempt at getting “country league drunk”, which by all accounts is a marvellous pastime. Conan’s roots reach far and wide in Armidale, with the expansion of three men’s grade teams, several extremely successful netball grades and a cricket team who all play together with friends and family. The club really is going from strength to strength. Outside of rugby and other sports in general, I made the risky decision of riding in the Tour De Rocks this year. Having never taken a serious interest in cycling, I went against my better judgment and got on the saddle. I was very lucky to have support from Team Barnier. Their patience was appreciated – Anna more so than Dave. It’s something I’m glad I have completed, and I’m looking forward to training for next year’s event. Outside of physical activity, I enjoy reading and find painting a great release from the day to day life. Painting can be as much a learning experience as it is a time of relaxation. I also like to spend time with my dogs, Winston and Bobbi. Taking them for walks through the pine forest is a great way to unwind after a long day and gather your thoughts. I probably benefit a lot more from their walks than they do.
Role at Professionals?
My role at Professionals is to service our clients to the best of my ability. The role of an agent these days goes much further than driving a SOLD sign into your front lawn. Our job is to make the whole process as seamless as possible; be it releasing your first home and taking the time to make you comfortable with the process, or handling the negotiation on your next home.
We liaise with conveyancers, solicitors, tenants, pest control, and tradesmen. There really is a variety of roles in real estate that make it such a rewarding job. There is no better feeling then orchestrating the exchange of a property between two complete strangers. Real Estate is very similar to Tetris, in the sense that your accomplishments disappear and your errors eventually pile up. You have to always be thinking of the next month, and that is why training is so important – to give you that edge in an ever changing environment.
Plans for the future?
Right now I am very much focused on work and expanding my sphere of influence. TwentyFourteen was my first calendar year, and it was a tough initial first quarter finding my feet and getting some traction within the Armidale market. However, with hard work and perseverance I was recently awarded “top new Salesman” for the July – Sept quarter at an industry night in Sydney. The award is no more than a pat on the back, but certainly solidifies that real estate was a good choice, personally.
Last year finished with a great flurry of sales, and January is looking no different. Outside of work, 2015 is going to be a huge year for Barbarians Rugby, with a brand new structure to the competition. Glen Innes have been confirmed for 1st grade, which also coincides with their 45 year celebration. The Barbarians have a far more settled squad this year; last year was a huge success for the club, with our Third Grade capturing the trophy and other grades losing in the semi finals. We hope to build on that and take our game to a more consistent level.
There are some established players making returns, which can only add to the competition for grades. Jess and I have just returned from Ireland and its ghoulish weather. For our next adventure we may look at a summer vacation or at the very least, Port.