– Story by Angela Cowan Photography by Lia Crowe
As a Vancouver Island-born and raised real estate agent, Ron Neal has spent 30 years helping people find their dream homes, but he’s also devoted his career to making a difference through philanthropy, both locally and provincially.
As the founder and owner of The Neal Estate Team and RE/MAX Alliance, Ron heads a team of real estate agents with the highest per capita sales in Victoria, and his personal sales team is number one for RE/MAX on Vancouver Island. And with that level of success is a team-wide belief in giving back.
“To work at our office, you have to agree that a portion of every sale will go to the BC Children’s Hospital and also to a local fund,” he explains.
The local recipients vary, but in 2020 alone he and his team donated $10,000 to Santa’s Anonymous and purchased a COVID-19-inspired three-month supply of to-go containers for Our Place and The Rainbow Kitchen. And they’re closing in on $400,000 donated to Children’s since the brokerage opened in 2005.
Ron, who is friendly and direct in conversation, started down the path to accountancy in high school, but got diverted into sales for a few years, working in finance, computer sales and even car sales. But it was in real estate that he found his calling.
“There’s a real personal satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from helping people in what’s a significant part of most people’s lives,” he says. “The level of trust that people have…I feel so much responsibility with that. I just really want to help people get what they want in the best way possible.”
Outside of work, Ron has always made a work-life balance his priority, and he “lives to give.”
“I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had some very good mentors and guidance to have a life outside of work. You have to plan it and respect it,” he says. “So when my kids were young and growing up, I coached them through all their sports. We included them in charitable efforts, including a family head shave for kids with cancer, and we travelled to Uganda to help fund and build an orphanage. We travelled all over the world. I’ve had the very good fortune of combining work and play in that regard.”
In particular, he’s part of a group of international real estate agents who call themselves “RE/MAX Team Canada,” and have come together to play hockey in more than 20 countries over the past 20 years.
“The cool thing with having these relationships with all these agents from other market places is we wind up helping each others’ relocating customers.”
These days, Ron says he spends a lot of his downtime golfing or on motorcycles with his amazing partner, Lorraine, and can’t wait for travel opportunities to open up again.
“We especially love motorcycle race track days and adventure tours. Our last trip before COVID-19 was a motorcycle tour of Northern Thailand to the Golden Triangle. I miss playing hockey, too, and can’t wait to get back on the ice!”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
I’m pretty happy in my own shoes, but both Formula One race car driver Michael Schumacher’s shoes or Moto GP rider Marc Marquez’s shoes look appealing! But after thinking about it some, I’d pick Bill Gates for the massive difference I could make as a philanthropist.
What is the food you could eat over andover again?
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
That’s a tough one. I really have everything I need and would experience more joy giving it away and making a difference where it’s needed. If I have to choose something purely selfish, then what comes to mind is one of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB9s!
People who are perpetually late. To me it’s disrespectful of other people’s time.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
In a hammock on any warm beach with a good book, or curled up in front of a warm fire.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
It’s not really a secret, but my sons, of course. My integrity. And my efforts to give and support others; to help make people’s lives better.
What makes your heart beat faster?
Whether downhill on snow skis, on my road bike or on my Ninja [dirt bike] at the race track, I love to go fast!