Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 9:32 p.m.
organizer, Professional People in Real Estate
Professional People in Real Estate Meets Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
Hosted by Magnolia Place Towndominiums, 5075 NW 43rd Ave.; Catered by Füs Restaurant & Burkhardt Sales & Service (Budweiser); Live music by Omi Ajamu Trio; Open to anyone involved with real estate; visit www.ppir.org for more information and to RSVP.
He has himself discovered 20 new species and has had his name attached to some, such as the Metaleptobasis mauffrayi from Ecuador and Peru.
It's just a time and place where appraisers can meet lenders, Realtors can meet suppliers, the builders can talk to insurance agents away from the confines of the workplace.
That's how Bill Mauffray describes Professional People in Real Estate, a networking group that meets six times a year for an evening. It began with a dozen people getting together at a downtown restaurant. Now in its seventh year, the networking social is hosted and catered (sometimes with music) by lenders, legal firms and new developments. The e-mailing list has 1,500 contacts.
"It's just a great way for us to get together and talk about our day, to share information, and frankly, just have fun," said Mauffray, a home loan consultant for Countrywide Home Loans in Gainesville.
The 1997 Realtor of the Year who worked here for RE/MAX and Century 21 since 1992 - and in real estate in Louisiana for six years before then - combined his talents of organization and persistence to form PPIR. He's now called Mr. PPIR by members.
He's so buoyed by that success that he also started Jewish Professionals, another social networking group of lawyers, doctors, educators and others who also happen to be Jewish.
Mauffray is also one of the world's leading experts on Odonata - dragonflies and damselflies - and is volunteering with the Division of Plant Industry to identify and catalog these insects for an exhibit. He routinely travels to Central and South America to collect and discover specimens.
Back in a previous life, though, when he said he was a "longhair," he was a talent agent and booked bands for parties in New Orleans.
After graduating with a degree in entomology from Louisiana State University in 1969, he got a job with the St. Bernard Parish (Chalmette, just east of New Orleans) mosquito control board.
Married with two children already, he found out in three months that this was no way to support a family.
He moved to Gainesville to become a graduate assistant in the entomology department, but that only paid $1,100 a semester, which didn't do him much good either.
So back to Louisiana he went. To augment his income he began booking bands for dance clubs and lounges in the New Orleans area. This was beginning in 1972, and "surprisingly, there were few people doing this. New Orleans was still purely into jazz." After six months, he found being an agent paid more than being an entomologist; after another year of doing both, "I quit the day job."
Calling himself "the only longhair in Chalmette," Mauffray booked up to 80 different bands all over the Southeast under the business name The Musician's Exchange of the South, with representatives in Baton Rouge, La., and Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.
"Then (John) Travolta ruined it for us," he laughs, referring to the 1977 movie "Saturday Night Fever," which helped popularize discotheques, the music and the dance.
Mauffray then begin booking bands for corporate parties, supper dances and more particularly, events around Mardis Gras. His most successful was his involvement with the "super" Krewe of Endymion, one of the larger Carnival organizations, as well as Bacchus and Orpheus, two other krewes. Often he secured entertainment for all three celebrations and his business set up the lights and equipment for a week before the event.
Endymion broke the mold when it brought in popular bands and singers such as Englebert Humperdink and musicians such as Doc Severinsen, and created an extravaganza that eventually drew 10,000 guests to the Rivergate Exposition Center. It eventually grew to need the Superdome in 1981 to host the thousands of guests, and the main Mardis Gras parade actually marched up to that party.
Alas, Mauffray found that booking music in the Gulf Coast turned into a seasonal event: Mardis Gras and not much else going on. So he started working for RE/MAX as a Realtor.
A visit to Gainesville led to an interview with RE/MAX here and he moved here in January 1992, and eventually moved his license to Century 21. Since then he has regularly been one of the 10 top residential Realtors in the area, specializing in "expired listings," those which were not sold under an initial contract. "It took persistence to make those sales," he said.
He also devised the current numerical grid system real estate agents use to locate, via computer search, homes and property with particular attributes.
He was named Realtor of the Year in 1997 for averaging more than $5 million in sales annually in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
He also rekindled his love for entomology, particularly dragonflies and damselflies, and quickly hooked up with Minter Westfall of the International Odonata Research Institute, headquartered at the Doyle Conner Building on SW 34th Street. Since then he has used all his spare time for research, travel, collecting and identification. He has himself discovered 20 new species and has had his name attached to some, such as the Metaleptobasis mauffrayi from Ecuador and Peru.
One late summer afternoon in 1998, Mauffray got in touch with a loan originator to follow up on a loan she was working on. She and an appraiser were about to go to dinner, so she suggested he meet them at a Mexican restaurant. After a few margaritas and their meal, they realized how relaxing it was to discuss their respective days in a social setting and not just over the telephone.
The first Professional People in Real Estate meeting was at a downtown restaurant, with about a dozen people attending. The following month about 20 people showed up at a casual dining restaurant. The event blossomed until 40 people regularly attended to socialize and swap stories and business cards. Once the meetings began being hosted by businesses, including food and music, attendance has swelled.
His involvement with the Jewish Professionals sprang from his remarriage. He was divorced in 1999, "otherwise one of my most productive real estate years." Some time later he attended a social put on by Trinity Singles and met a woman named Esther. She asked him to follow her to the dance later that evening, and he did. They talked, they clicked, and exactly one year later they were married. A non-practicing Catholic, Mauffray attended B'nai Israel with her and was taken with what he called a "no pressure" religion. He subsequently converted.
Mauffray recently returned from a visit to his hometown, taking dozens of photos of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. His children still live in the area. "It was amazing what I saw there," he said.
Marina Blomberg can be reached at (352) 374-5025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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