Mel Kilner still believes that the customer always comes first and its that belief in personal customer service that has kept Kilner in the forefront of the Fresno real estate industry for more than 20 years. Licensed since 1974, Kilner is consistently one of the areas top producers.
Kilner, a Fresno native, learned about hard work from his father, who owned stationery stores. My father had us out working on the road selling office supplies, he said. By the time we were 9 or 10 we were calling on businesses and selling embossed Christmas cards and office supplies. We had a choice: we could go out and dig ditches for a living or we could establish career goals and go to school. That was the choice we had through education and the willingness to work.
Kilner holds a bachelors degree in History and German and has a teaching credential, which he achieved before joining the military during the Vietnam War. He served on active duty for training and has a combined 24 years of service that includes the Air Force and Air National Guard. Before retiring as a lieutenant colonel, Kilner and his wife, Michele, a professor who taught child development, built and ran a preschool with partners. He says his schedule in the Reserves allotted him time to do such activities. I had the time to take care of the maintenance and pay bills and do all the taxes and payroll, at the Childrens Learning Center.
I was never one to sit still for very long, shares Kilner. I wouldnt do well with a behind-the-desk job, so real estate was the perfect career for me. He came to that decision in 1974, the same time that he was flying interceptors for the California Air National Guard. After some encouragement by friends in the industry, Kilner got his real state license. I was able to do both and I really appreciated that flexibility.
One of the appeals of real estate, he said, was that it didnt tie him to an office all day. In real estate I could be out and about doing things. It was different every day, not as exciting as flying but not the same as being behind a desk, either.
In the late 1980s the nations savings and loan companies began to experience turmoil. Having financed large commercial developments, they overreached their lending capacity, and those developments, largely condominiums, townhouses and apartment complexes, could not be sold at a viable profit. Kilner built auction teams for a national Real Estate Auction company. Working primarily on the East Coast, Kilner would fly out on Friday and be back on Sunday, in the interim having sold five to fifty millions of dollars of inventory that was worth billions. Not bad for three days worth of work!
Now working only on weekends, his wife thought that with so much time on his hands, he should find something else to do. Mel she said, You need to find a real job! he laughs. So, he decided to go into real estate full time, working at an office five days out of the week, while continuing the auctions on weekends. It was a grueling schedule, but it suited Kilner just fine.
He joined the Prudential Helen Smades Realtors, which merged with London Properties in 1994. Mel was with London Properties 15 years before joining Keller Williams Realty Fresno. That move was made to expand the range of services that meet the clients needs. But, ancillary services are nothing if an agent isnt motivated to succeed the way Kilner is. He believes that teams work better than individuals and is in the constant pursuit of building the perfect team. We now have younger associates who could profit from our good name and reputation long in to the future. He works closely with a partner, (shes too important to call her an assistant, he says.) Margo Hixon, who is equally knowledgeable and supportive of his clients and the two have built an impressive repeat and referral following.
And while it was excitement that drew him to real estate, its his area knowledge