ERA DRIGGERS & ASSOCIATES BUYS OUT LESTER
By Ray Linker
Observer Staff Writer
Nothing makes a real estate agent happier than when he or she turns over the keys to a new homeowner.
This week, Russell Lester handed the keys to his Coldwell Banker Lester Real Estate business to someone else.
The majestic building at 1702 Fourth Street Lester has occupied since 1979 is now the new home for ERA Driggers & Associates.
Betty and David Driggers have bought out Lester and moved into their new quarters a few blocks from their previous leased office at 1905 Fourth.
Lester, 61, who lives in Island City, wont disappear from the scene altogether. He will work as a sales agent and associate broker for the new firm, which will carry the ERA name as the Coldwell Banker logo disappears locally. Lester, whose company was started by his father in 1965, took on the Coldwell Banker name in 1995.
Lester, who has been in the business for 30 years after taking over from his father in 1972, would like to do some traveling, including visiting his nine children. They live mainly in the western United States, but one lives in Taiwan.
Lester said the decision to sell was pretty quick. I decided about a month ago. But I will continue to be active in the new company.
All five sales agents of Lester will be retained by the Driggers, they said. And, including themselves, there are eight at Driggers that will be retained.
The combined sales forces puts us in the No. 1 spot in Union County, Betty Driggers said.
Both firms manage a number of rentals, and will shift some office personnel to deal with this aspect of the business.
Were buying the real estate business, the property management business and the real estate, but still will be known as ERA Driggers & Associates, Dave Driggers said.
They will have a new phone number at the new address: 963-0500, but callers can still use either of the old numbers (963-4156 or 962-0253).
It will be easier to keep the ERA name, the Driggers said. For one thing, they have an ERA company in Hermiston.
We feel pretty positive about the ERA plan.
Dave Driggers said, It would have created a lot of unnecessary paperwork for us to go to being a Coldwell Banker company. Were happy with ERA and its slogan, We will sell your house or we will buy it. Thats just one of the positive things about ERA.
Another objective that will be achieved, Dave Driggers said, will be the lowering of unit cost. The costs to operate a company with one, two or three sales agents is about the same as operating one with a larger number of agents.
Betty Driggers said, Having more agents should help us. Good agents and good sales bring in more business. We all make more money when we are successful.
The emphasis will remain on sales, the Driggers said.
Our main focus will still be sales, Dave Driggers said. Our income from sales is 10 times what the rental income has been.
Betty Driggers said they started the property management aspects of their business after recognizing a need. And it has mushroomed since we started that part of the business in about 1995, she said.
Betty, who was born in Prineville and raised in Burns, started working in real estate in 1987. She was one of six people who started Oregon Trail Realty in 1990. She earned her brokers license and started ERA Driggers in 1994.
Dave Driggers, who was born in Idaho and raised in Kansas, spent 25 years with Boise Cascade in La Grande in middle management, coming to La Grande in 1970. The couple had met in Arizona and were married in 1966. Dave joined the real estate firm in 1995.
Betty Driggers has reaped a lot of honors in La Grande. A former president of the Union County Chamber of Commerce and of the Union County Board of Realtors, she was the countys Realtor of the Year in 1994 and selected as the chambers Business Person of the Year in 1997. She has also received the Sam Walton Business Leader of the Year Award.
Both of the Driggers are members of the La Grande Lions Club. They have two grown children, Brian in Union and Bradley in Redmond.
It is not a bad time to be in the real estate business, Betty said.
Interest rates are going up a little now, but the local market is still good. Its not booming like it could be, but its not dead either.