Written by Kim Sauerwein
Photography by Ray Cordero of Mainline Photography
As a transplant from Zelienople, PA, Valerie Park was still getting to know the area when she decided to obtain her real estate license. She didn’t know many people or neighborhoods. She relied on a GPS to get around. She never imagined making it through the recession, let alone expanding her business during one. “I certainly didn’t expect to end up on a magazine cover but here I am. I built my business from the ground up, and I’m pretty proud of it!”
Since we took real estate classes together, over 14 years ago, Val (as most people to refer to her) and I have been best friends. Throughout Burgan Real Estate she is known as down-to-earth, helpful, and serious about her business. From the moment she obtained her license, she’s been a consummate professional, hard-working, and 100% ethical. This side of her is balanced out by a self-deprecating sense of humor, that she uses as a cover for her incredible intelligence.
My favorite “Val story” – Val’s son, Cody, was competing in a high school Academic Challenge Competition and my friend’s son was the opposing team, so we both decided to go show our support. As the moderator began reciting a mathematical problem, contestants pulled out their pencils and started making calculations. As soon as the moderator finished speaking, Val whispered her answer to me. When the correct answer was given, I almost fell off my seat. Val was right! No pencil. No paper. No calculator. Everything was calculated in her head! I looked at her in amazement and she just shrugged it off like it was no big deal. That’s Val.
Another attribute is her dedication to her goals, like sending her son to college. As income was always earmarked for his tuition, vacations were never an option. She also got involved in anything having to do with Cody’s childhood, whether it was educational or extracurricular (including her involvement with the Boy Scouts, as treasurer for the past 11 years).
Cody is without a doubt his mother’s greatest treasure, commenting, “She pushed me to have a high achieving attitude and to always have high expectations for myself. Then she coached me, in how to argue, to get my way!” Aside from their fondness for quirky humor, the two have a lot in common, starting with an overabundance of knowledge and extending into the same taste in head-banging music.
A dedication is as strong as his mother has seen him graduating as Salutatorian of his high school, attaining Eagle Scout level, and graduating from the College of Wooster, with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Geology, this May.
Valerie and her husband, Chuck, are ‘car people’. The Park’s collection includes a ’78 Camaro, an AMC Javelin, amongst multiple other classics. Soon, Valerie will be handing the Camaro keys over to Cody, permanently, but on her terms, “Degree in hand = title in hand!”
At her brokerage, Val was long ago inducted as a Superior Agent and currently sits on the Burgan Leadership Board. As a long-time member of the Ohio President’s Sales Club, Val has received numerous Awards of Distinction and Awards of Achievement. At present, her career volume stands at $58 million ($5.8 million in the last year alone). This is quite an accomplishment, considering she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, six years ago. Through this, her level of service and professionalism has never diminished. In fact, her sales have increased!
Always elusive and irreverent, when I asked how Val handled the work/life balance, she quipped, “I don’t. The two have merged. There is no separation.” When asked what her friends and family might say about her, she laughed and said, “I’d better not answer that one. It’s probably not suitable for print!”
However, she obliged me and explained what she liked best about being a realtor. “Being a Realtor is an awesome job! I get to work with different people, every day and help them purchase their dreams. Their dreams take me all over the tri-county area and to homes in all price ranges. I am there to play matchmaker. They pick the home. I make it happen!”
Val is someone who demands a lot of herself, yet is rarely satisfied, so I was anxious to find out if she felt successful. Finally, a smile and a really good answer. “All these years, I have wanted to be able to pay for my son’s college education. I was able to do it! That is a success. Yes, I feel successful.”
Valerie is intelligent, quick-witted, and hard-working. She is a generous contributor, mega-star real estate agent, and mentor. For a girl that has basically been on her own, since she was 13 years old, I’d say that Val is not just a success, she is downright astonishing!