RE/MAX Team Earns Top Honor from U.S. Department of Defense

Levi Rodgers is a decorated Green Beret whose commitment to serve others – and support those who defend and protect the country – didn’t end when he retired from the U.S. Army and embarked on a real estate career.

That much was evident when his team, Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group at RE/MAX Military City in San Antonio, was honored with the 2019 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the Department of Defense to employers for their exceptional support of U.S. National Guard and Reserve members.

“It’s an absolute honor,” says Rodgers, who is also Founder/Owner of RE/MAX Military City. “I mean, the Secretary of Defense called our office. It’s pretty cool when somebody who’s worried about North Korea and Iran and everything else the President may have him worried about would take the time to call us and let us know we’ve been selected for this.”

Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group was one of only 15 Employer Support Freedom Award recipients chosen this year out of 2,415 civilian employers nominated and is believed to be the first real estate entity to receive the award since it began in 1996. The RE/MAX team of 15 agents and 14 support staffers stands alongside such corporate giants as Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Archer Daniels Midland, Chevron, Barclays and Cracker Barrel. This year’s award recipients were announced in mid-June and will be honored Aug. 23 at a Pentagon ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Helping the People Who Help People

Levi Rodgers, RE/MAX Military City

The team led by Rodgers, who earned a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Legion of Merit for his own service, was nominated for the Freedom Award by his office’s manager of front-end operations, Ricardo Pacheco, a member of the Texas National Guard. Pacheco wrote in his nomination about the support he and his family received while on deployments to Somalia and Hurricane Harvey, as well as during his usual National Guard commitments: one weekend each month and two weeks out of the year.

“True story – I wrote the nomination while I was in Somalia,” says Pacheco, who is pursuing his real estate license. “I didn’t think much of it. I was just trying to put my words together. I’m still humbled about it every day.”

The support provided by Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group during Pacheco’s deployments went beyond continued paychecks and benefits. For example, during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, as Pacheco and his unit were pulling stranded people out of vehicles and houses in Houston, Rodgers and other team members sought to comfort the unit, stocking up at Sam’s Club on beef jerky, chewing tobacco, “things soldiers like when they’re stressed out,” Rodgers says.

“We went around, from station to station, met them in the field and delivered things to them,” adds Rodgers, who points out his compassion in the face of Hurricane Harvey had a pragmatic side to it:

“We’ve got a lot of organizations helping the people who were affected by Harvey; but who’s helping the people who are helping the people?” he recalls thinking. “It’s just like they say when you board an airplane: ‘If we lose cabin pressure, oxygen masks are going to fall from the ceiling. Before you put the oxygen mask on others, put it on yourself.’ If you yourself run out of oxygen, you can’t help people. If they become demoralized, or lose their will to fight, then everything is going downhill.”

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RE/MAX Military City at a Glance
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Leading with Action, Not Words

The Freedom Award nomination submitted by Pacheco was just one instance of the Texas National Guard unit’s show of appreciation for the support it has received from Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group. Another indication is the Bowie knife the unit presented to Rodgers last year; it’s now displayed in his office.

Bowie knife, presented to Rodgers

“That’s just them showing thanks for us being there for them,” Rodgers says, adding, “Ricardo’s whole unit has been very supportive of our real estate company. That wasn’t the intent; we weren’t trying to get buyers or clients; we were being involved with our community, doing what a RE/MAX agent should – being a stellar representative of the brand, somebody who goes out there and leads with actions, not words.”

Rodgers adds, “I really want to make sure to emphasize this was not just me. The agents with my company and their families collectively were involved in helping the Pacheco family.”

Although the Employer Support Freedom Award specifically recognizes employer support of National Guard and Reserve members beyond what the federal law requires, Rodgers has been a staunch supporter of all military veterans and their families since he became a RE/MAX agent in 2012, en route to amassing more than $100,000 in commissions his first nine months and rocketing to the RE/MAX Hall of Fame. He opened RE/MAX Military City in 2016.

To support veterans in their transition to civilian careers, Rodgers launched a program, “Bullets to Buildings,” that he describes as “the only Department of Defense-approved real estate transition program.”

“The flexibility RE/MAX provides its Broker/Owners to run their businesses and allow their agents to adapt to local market conditions is a large contributing factor to the success that my team has experienced. Because we are independently owned and operated, we do not have to run every little thing up the flagpole; we can focus on local market conditions and how we can best prioritize our efforts locally in best support of our mission.”
– Levi Rodgers

“Servicemen can come up to six months before their active duty is over and work at my office,” Rodgers explains. “I pay for their license. By the time they get to that point, they can start working as soon as they get out. Three people have gone through the program so far this year. They have their licenses and are working at my company.”

Rodgers recalls the mentoring he received during his own early days in real estate, and now he seeks to extend that opportunity to others. While still in the Army and in full uniform, not yet with a real estate license, he walked into the office of RE/MAX North-San Antonio and introduced himself to Kate Keating, the now-retired Broker/Owner.

“I found the transition in the beginning to be rather difficult,” he says. “But Kate mentored me tremendously, and I would not have what I have today if not for her and other RE/MAX leaders. It’s been good. I’ve been mentored by a lot of great people. None of it is my doing. I’ve been taught by others, and I’ve just executed what I’ve learned.”

“When you’re considering anyone for employment, their knowledge, skills and abilities need to be held as No. 1 regardless of what they do outside of your industry,” says retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer Levi Rodgers, Founder/Owner of RE/MAX Military City in San Antonio. “However, being more supportive of them and their service will yield you a very loyal employee. Foremost in the National Guard and Reservists’ minds, and one of their top sources of anxiety, is: ‘Will my job be here when I get back?’ Display every day that not only your words are genuine, but that you have a strong company, you’re financially fit, you’re able to support them.”

1. “When you’re considering anyone for employment, their knowledge, skills and abilities need to be held as No. 1 regardless of what they do outside of your industry,” says retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer Levi Rodgers, Founder/Owner of RE/MAX Military City in San Antonio. “However, being more supportive of them and their service will yield you a very loyal employee. Foremost in the National Guard and Reservists’ minds, and one of their top sources of anxiety, is: ‘Will my job be here when I get back?’ Display every day that not only your words are genuine, but that you have a strong company, you’re financially fit, you’re able to support them.”

“It’s especially important to maintain their continuity of pay, their continuity of benefits, their continuity of lifestyle, their continuity of livelihood.”

2. “It’s especially important to maintain their continuity of pay, their continuity of benefits, their continuity of lifestyle, their continuity of livelihood.”

“Lead by example, lead with confidence,” Rodgers says. “Ensure that the people underneath you know you’re going to be there for them regardless. Not so much through your words but through your actions.”

3. “Lead by example, lead with confidence,” Rodgers says. “Ensure that the people underneath you know you’re going to be there for them regardless. Not so much through your words but through your actions.”

“Soldiers on the battlefield these days are so connected to the home front,” Rodgers says, citing iPhones, WhatsApp and Facebook as three connecting examples. “If their family’s not in shape, that affects the survivability of the solider on the battlefield. That’s less time for them to train, less time for them to prepare. They’re focused on who’s mowing the lawn as opposed to what’s going to keep them alive on the battlefield. Helping to reduce stress on the supporting family is huge. It projects to the success of the soldier on the battlefield.”

4. “Soldiers on the battlefield these days are so connected to the home front,” Rodgers says, citing iPhones, WhatsApp and Facebook as three connecting examples. “If their family’s not in shape, that affects the survivability of the solider on the battlefield. That’s less time for them to train, less time for them to prepare. They’re focused on who’s mowing the lawn as opposed to what’s going to keep them alive on the battlefield. Helping to reduce stress on the supporting family is huge. It projects to the success of the soldier on the battlefield.”

“Military families have a tremendous amount of knowledge, skills and abilities to offer any real estate office, especially given that they’ve often moved all over the world,” Rodgers says. “Embrace them, embrace their culture. You’ll be amazed at what you can find within the veteran community. It’s a passion of ours. We love helping our people.”

5. “Military families have a tremendous amount of knowledge, skills and abilities to offer any real estate office, especially given that they’ve often moved all over the world,” Rodgers says. “Embrace them, embrace their culture. You’ll be amazed at what you can find within the veteran community. It’s a passion of ours. We love helping our people.”

A Veteran’s Advice for Employing Service Members
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Hear more from Levi Rodgers and Richard Pacheco on RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos’ Start With a Win podcast.



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