Today’s RE Technology Follow the Leader Series profiles Russ Bergeron.
According to RE Technology, Bergeron, CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC (MRED) deserves recognition for his leadership on every level, but we’re going to be a bit more specific for this article. We’ll be focusing on his implementation of MRED’s “public service apps,” creating a new way to bring leading-edge technology and support to his customers.
MRED Public Service Apps
Mr. Bergeron proves that a great leader never rests on his laurels, no matter how successful his company may be. MRED is one of the largest MLSs in the country. There’s power in their numbers, but Mr. Bergeron has not become complacent; he never stops striving to increase MRED’s value to customers and to improve the real estate industry as a whole.
His public service apps are an excellent example of this. “We have several initiatives that fall into what I’ve termed our ‘public service apps,'” Mr. Bergeron explains. “These include: Down Payment Assistance from Workforce Resource, the Fannie Mae Short Sales Assistance Desk, Walk Score, Energy Ratings, and what I call ‘Lead Generation Engines’ (public-facing listing websites or portals).”
The Down Payment Assistance Desk is a tool that helps brokers and agents identify properties that qualify for down payment assistance and help buyers determine if they themselves are eligible for these programs. The Fannie Mae Short Sale Assistance Desk is a resource available to agents and brokers to speed-up the short sale process by shortening the time they have to wait for responses back from their loan servicers, with the help of Fannie Mae. The other public service apps from MRED are along the same lines – assisting both MRED customers and consumers. For a closer look at all of the public service apps, click here.
These programs clearly demonstrate Mr. Bergeron’s (and MRED’s) commitment to the success of agents and brokers. “Some people may say that the MLS’s job is just to collect data,” Mr. Bergeron says. “Sure, that may have been how it started. But I firmly believe that the definition of an MLS needs to be upgraded. We’re in a position to do so much more for our customers.” Certainly, other MLS leaders share this commitment, and many look to Mr. Bergeron for inspiration. So, how does he do it?
“We have 2 criteria for implementing new products or services,” Mr. Bergeron explains. “First, we ask ‘is this something that can be used by ALL of our customers.’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ as with the apps, we’ll make the product available. Next, if the answer is ‘no,’ we’ll consider offering the product on a subscription basis. In this way, we give our customers the option to upgrade if they have the resources and the inclination.”
Because MRED is such a major player in the real estate industry, when companies have a product to sell, they come to Mr. Bergeron. However, he is proactive with his own research. “I subscribe to lots of e-newsletters,” he says. “I may not see something in every single one of them that is a direct link to real estate, but, if you think critically, there’s usually something there that could be relevant to our industry.”
Mr. Bergeron is also very active on social media. We follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, and on his paper.li newsletter. “Many of my peers are on my distribution list. And they often share their ideas with me. Communication between MLS folks is huge. We cooperate a great deal.”
We spoke with Jeff Lasky, Director of Communications and Training at MRED, to get an insider’s perspective.
“I’m not surprised that Russ came up with the concept of public service apps,” Mr. Lasky says. “Here’s a guy who’s not just thinking about ‘what can we do to make ourselves look good.’ He’s thinking ‘what can we provide to our customers that can help them be successful.’ and ‘what can we do to help the real estate community as a whole.’ That’s very indicative of Russ’s approach to leadership.”
Mr. Lasky continues, “One of the most impressive things about Russ is that he has a great familiarity with every product and system MRED offers. That requires a solid process and serious commitment. It helps that he has a genuine, deep interest in the products and services that are available. And he doesn’t let grass grow under his feet.”
About Russ Bergeron
Russ Bergeron is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Marywood College where he holds a B.S. in Business Administration. He proudly served his country for four years as a member of the United States Air Force stationed both at home and in Pakistan. For more than ten years, he was a member of the management team at Planning Research Corporation (now CoreLogic). There he held several key positions including Product Manager, Manager of Systems Design and Development and National Installations Manager for a wide range of MLS-related products. Prior to joining MRED in 2010, Russ was the founding CEO of Southern California Multiple Listing Service (SoCalMLS), a position he held for seventeen years.
Russ’ most far-reaching accomplishment was conceptualizing and leading the birth and growth of CARETS, the largest collaborative data aggregation of its kind in the country. CARETS serves over 110,000 real estate practitioners from nine MLSs serving over 30 associations in Southern California creating a much more productive and cost-effective method for agents to market their properties and operate in the expansive Southern California region and beyond.
In recognition of his leadership and innovation, he was named one of the nation’s 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate for 2009 and 2010 (by Inman News). Russ currently sits on advisory boards of Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Supra and CoreLogic/Realist. He is a member of the 2011 Illinois Association of Realtors® Strategic Planning Committee.
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