5 questions with Willie Kihle

04/24/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:23 AM

It’s been nearly 1 1/2 years since Prudential Dinning-Beard, one of the area’s biggest real estate firms, became a part of the bigger Prudential PenFed Realty, a subsidiary of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, Va., which has more than $18 billion in assets and 1.2 million members.

Dinning-Beard has retained its name – so far – and has been adopting some of PenFed’s programs, including one launched earlier this year aimed at helping veterans and military spouses break into a real estate career.

The Real Heroes program pays successful candidates up to $2,500 toward the cost of obtaining a real estate license. It is aimed at veterans, military spouses, and active-duty men and women who are planning to leave military service.

Willie Kihle, Dinning-Beard’s managing broker and a former owner, said he’s hoping that program will bolster his agency’s ranks in Wichita, which total 280 agents and staff working from east- and west-side offices.

“Dinning-Beard has always had a history of bringing new people into the business, starting a career and teaching them how to grow it,” said Kihle, a North Dakota native who started his real estate career at Dinning-Beard more than 28 years ago, originally working for co-founder Doris Beard. “Obviously, there is a sense of pride” from offering a program that assists veterans, he said.

Kihle said PenFed has a number of programs nationally that support veterans, including DreamMakers, which provides grants to first-time homebuyers including veterans and active-duty military, and Military Heroes, which provides services to wounded military service members and their families.

“These guys have a great heart, not only for their members but the military in general,” Kihle said. “So we’re very proud to be associated with them.”

Q. 1 How is the Real Heroes program going so far?

A. The reality is we’re just rolling it out. PenFed owns companies across the country and some of them have rolled it out for three, four weeks now. We’re just getting it going here.

Q. 2 Does Dinning-Beard have a limit on how many people it can recruit through Real Heroes?

A. There is no limit.

Q. 3 You said that in Kansas $2,500 should cover the cost of someone getting the training and testing for a real estate license?

A. Historically that’s been an obstacle to people getting into our business, is that upfront cost.

Q. 4 How has the transition to PenFed ownership gone so far?

A. Anytime you have change there are things to learn and it seems there is a little mild dysfunction. But in reality – there is a saying I’ve said for many years, ‘Success comes to those who adapt to change the quickest’ – change brings opportunity.

Q. 5 How is business for your firm?

A. In general, business is very good. 2013 was a great year for us. We’re very happy with the way (2014) is starting out. The market’s good, of course, and rates are good.

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