By G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO
Three Questions is an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.
This week, we caught up with Steve Byrd, CTO at Canopy MLS. Our conversation delved into loyalty, Steve’s background with the U.S. Air Force, and the military’s influence on his current role and the wider industry.
Q1: You’ve recently celebrated 25 years in real estate technology, all of it at Canopy MLS in Charlotte, North Carolina. Such perseverance is a rarity in today’s tech careers. What is it about the culture and mission of Canopy that has retained your loyalty?
Steve: Our leader, Anne Marie DeCatsye, has provided unwavering guidance, and I’ve had the privilege of working alongside her for most of my tenure at Canopy.
Our organization prides itself on nurturing robust volunteer REALTOR® leaders, a strategy that has fortified our leadership and staff’s commitment to a harmonious and efficient work environment.
Canopy’s structure ensures that the MLS and association operate autonomously yet remain in sync. This model empowers the staff to think innovatively, plan for the future and actively shape our direction.
Our volunteer committees and staff collaborate seamlessly to evaluate new products, ensuring that our opinions and expertise are always valued. From the feedback that we have received, it would appear that this kind of collaborative environment significantly enhances job satisfaction and personal well-being, and we are very proud of that.
Q2: Your nine-year military tenure, spanning locations like the Pentagon, California, Germany and Qatar must have been transformative. How has this experience shaped your professional life within the civilian real estate sector?
Steve: My initial college attempt wasn’t particularly stellar, prompting me to enlist to bring about a change in focus. The military instilled in me a relentless work ethic, emphasizing punctuality, dedication and resilience. Moreover, I became a firm believer in personal responsibility and the chain of command.
Whenever I interview a potential new hire, I emphasize an applicant’s experiences and accomplishments. It’s about results without any fluff.
Q3: Your professional journey resonates with me, reminding me of my former boss, Michael Lane of ShowingTime+. After a significant military stint, he transitioned to a rewarding career in real estate technology. Have you ever talked with him about this? Are you aware of others in the industry who’ve embarked on a similar trajectory?
Steve: Mike and I have been friends for nearly two decades, and our military backgrounds are a frequent topic of discussion. While he served in the Navy, I don’t hold it against him!
Chris Carillo, CEO at Metro MLS in Milwaukee, was in the Army. Tim Dain, CEO at NorthstarMLS, served in the Marines. Glenn Christoff, CEO of IntermountainMLS in Boise, Idaho, was with the Naval Construction Battalions as a Seabee. If you’re ever in need of a bridge, Glenn’s your man. All of these individuals are valuable assets to the industry.
The military has a knack for molding exceptional leaders who subsequently excel in other sectors. The likes of Mike, Chris, Tim and Glenn are testament to this.
Q4 (Bonus): Navy or Air Force?
Steve: Air Force.
RESO: I wasn’t asking about your service. Which do you prefer?
Steve: Still, Air Force!
To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of water. While enlisting, I weighed my options and opted for communications and programming. After my Air Force stint, I pursued a major in Computer Science at UNC Charlotte.
Recruiters often have quotas to meet. They might need a cook, and if you fit the bill, that’s your role. Many 18-year-olds enlist to get out of the house and on their own.
I waited a year to secure my career choice, but it was worth the wait, and it’s safe to say things turned out rather well for me.