Joe and Cindy Welu both turned to real estate, but their paths – while intertwined – were their own.
While serving in the Army National Guard for eight years as a communications specialist, Cindy Welu – then Cindy Hanson – completed her degree in public relations and entered the banking and marketing fields.
With three small children, however, Cindy needed a more flexible career. “I had the background in marketing; I enjoyed looking at homes, so I took a gamble on a new career.”
With his degree in marketing and international business, Joe entered the corporate world as a sales representative. “I liked the idea of having my own business without someone else determining my business and income potential,” Joe said.
With relatives in the building industry, discussions naturally turned to real estate. From there, everything seemed to click into place.
Building a Business
“I’ve always felt like a leader,” Joe said. “From my DECA team to my fraternity to my sales team, I enjoyed helping others find their fit and work together toward success.”
It is with that trait that Joe and Cindy set out to launch the Joe and Cindy Team, now the JCT Group, in 2004.
“We had concerns about entering business together, of course,” Cindy said. “We are both a little type A and like to call the shots, so working together and letting go of some of that control was a concern at the time.”
That was 11 years ago. “I attribute our success to our ability to recognize our strengths and weaknesses and to balance them,” Cindy said. “We are both strategizers and thinkers, but Joe is the implementer – the action taker. I am more of the detail and quality control one. He creates the big picture from our idea and I break it down and perfect it as best as possible.”
When the two set out to build their business, they knew they would face challenges. And, as a husband-and-wife team, they knew their challenges wouldn’t be checked at the office door.
“No one will care about your business as much as you do,” Cindy said. “Realizing that is tough.”
“Owning your own business isn’t easy,” Joe said. “There is a reason not everyone can do it, especially in a business like real estate where if you don’t sell, you don’t make money. You have to wear many hats as an agent and owner; you need to be able to prioritize. Because like Cindy said, when it’s your business and you care about it – everything tends to be a priority and sometimes you can chase your own tail or spin in circles trying to handle too much at once. We’ve both fallen into that trap and feel we’ve worked our butts off without accomplishing anything because we spread ourselves too thin.”
While it isn’t easy, The Welus will admit that since they’ve gone on their own the fulfillment and the success has outweighed any challenge they’ve faced.
One of the challenges has been the evolution of their industry. Since they became REALTORS®, they have seen the rise and fall of the housing market. “We adapted by learning all we could,” Cindy said. “We become certified to handle REOs and short sales and did it well.”
With the changing housing market has come a shift in the customers. As with most industries, the Internet and the easy access to information has changed the face of customer service. “Our clients have evolved from asking us as REALTORS® for information to finding most of it themselves. Now, we have to dig even deeper and provide better customer service. On a listing side of real estate, our roles have now evolved into a marketing company more so than ever.”
“The real estate industry went online – to mobile – to viral,” Joe said. “To be relevant and credible – you have to be what the consumer wants. We strive for that all the time and adapt constantly. It’s constantly changing and as REALTORS you have to get with it or face being left behind.”
The JCT Group is Born
This year, Joe and Cindy made the decision to change their team name to the JCT Group. “It encompasses all our team members, not just Joe and I,” Cindy said.
While the name is changing the team’s core values remain. The team has always been high-energy, propelled by the Welus desire for setting and attaining higher goals year after year. “Our team is proactive,” Joe said. “Cindy and I are avid sports fans and our culture follows that – we win and lose together. We all agree that winning is better for everyone so that’s the goal.”
Today, the JCT Group has three agents. Joe and Cindy are joined by Joe’s father, JW Welu, who also owns his own handyman and radon mitigation business, something that they believe benefits their clients. “We are in the process of expanding and adding three fulltime agents by this summer,” Cindy said.
In addition to the agents, the team is supported by three people that Cindy describes as vital to the success of the business.
Ronyell Whitaker handles the REO and short sale department and contributes where the team has a need. Frank Richardson is the courier, making sure listings are stocked with brochures, paperwork is delivered, signs look fantastic and that everyone gets what they need. Joe’s mother, Jean Welu is the voice of the team, handling the customer service and the bookkeeping.
Recently, the Welus have also welcomed their daughter, Farrah, onboard as a part-time marketing assistant. “She’s learning the business,” Cindy said. “We’re excited to have her here.”
All in all, the JCT Group is a joint effort. “We all work together to create our business plan, our marketing strategies and business processes,” Joe said.
Joe and Cindy like to be involved in the community. Having raised four children locally, they are committed to giving back a little bit more each year. “We enjoy sponsoring youth and high school sports teams,” Cindy said.
The Wounded Warrior Project is another near and dear nonprofit. “After eight years in the service, supporting veterans is important to me,” Cindy said. “We also take part in walks for breast cancer and MS research as we have family members battling those diseases.”
“We both like to coach our kids when we can with Cindy having the upper hand on me in that category,” Joe said.
Outside of the office, Cindy and Joe devote much of their time to their four children. “I love watching them grow and develop their own passions and talents,” Cindy said. “Our oldest, Rhett, is living on his own, out of state. We also have two teenagers, Farrah and Zyler, in the house and our baby, Preslee, will be 8 years old this summer. She’s the one who keeps us young.”
The family often takes to the outdoors, enjoying archery and bow hunting. “Whenever possible, I love riding my Harley Davidson with Cindy,” Joe said. “Those country roads bring peace away from the chaos.”
Both Cindy and Joe will admit raising a family and running a business has its challenges. Through support from each other and their kids, however, they feel they’ve found success.
“Joe and I are excited to be the Minnesota directors for Supreme Auctions, an International Luxury Marketing Company, with a proven new program to sell luxury homes with less market time for higher prices,” Cindy said. “We look forward to teaching other agents about it and being a liaison for clients.”
In addition to their real estate team, Joe currently manages their separate real estate technology software company.
“I’m very excited and proud of what Joe is accomplishing with his technology and software company, Total Expert Inc. In my humble opinion, he’s helping many agents grow their businesses while saving time and helping the industry as a whole,” Cindy said.
“I feel so lucky to have the chance to spend more time with my husband than most others,” Cindy continued. “It is fulfilling to collaborate and build something successful with my life partner.”
“This isn’t a job; anyone can have one of those,” Joe said. “This is a lifestyle. Live it.”
For more information, visit www.joeandcindy.com.