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DALLAS-The 1,500-member North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors has hired a nonprofit veteran to steer an expansion bid, which is being kicked off by taking the Central Texas Board of Realtors under its wing.

Scott Byrne, 42, has quietly replaced Philip Ola, who had been let go Dec. 12. Byrne, like Ola, has been signed to a one-year contract, with a renewal option. Byrne took over the executive vice presidency just four days ago after spending a two-month internship with Dallas-based Bradford & Cos. to learn the ropes of the commercial real estate industry.

Byrne readily admits he is a novice to the industry, but not to fund-raising or the business community. He says his relationship with people in the industry led to the job offer. He most recently had been in the ministry for a non-denominational church that is part of the Willow Creek Association of Churches. And, he says his years with his father’s business, Byrne Directional Drilling Co., a major offshore operation in Lafayette, LA, has given him the skills necessary to do what needs done for NTCAR.

“There are tremendous parallels between what I’ve left and what I’m coming into,” Byrne tells GlobeSt.com. What he is planning to do is pump up NTCAR’s corporate sponsorship, membership and visibility in the commercial real estate sector.

The first step has been taken with the board approving the immediate absorption of the Central Texas Board of Commercial Realtors. It will now operate as a NTCAR division. A mailing to 883 commercial realtors, including the several hundred in the Central Texas organization, had gone out yesterday in a move to secure more members in the Austin-San Antonio region. Byrne hinted that a cooperative venture might be looming with the Houston Association of Realtors, the nation’s largest member group. Meanwhile, Byrne already is networking with the Greater Dallas Association of Realtors. There aren’t any more mergers in the offing, says Byrne, but “there’s a great opportunity to forge a good relationship” for everyone’s benefit.

“We have a very aggressive board,” Byrne says of NTCAR. “It’s a very large and very powerful organization already and it’s going to get stronger.” He says his goal is to “make NTCAR an association … that every broker cannot not want to be a part of.”

A NTCAR insider tells GlobeSt.com that Ola had been weak in corporate fundraising, the primary source for the board’s budget. The 2001 budget calls for $568,000 to support the one part-time and four full-time workers and NTCAR’s brokerage courses, awards programs and array of networking initiatives. Byrne, a 20-year fund-raising veteran, says his few days on the job have resulted in Emerson Partners upping its corporate sponsorship by 35%.

Byrne vows to pound the pavement on NTCAR’s behalf while unabashedly asking for corporate donations so NTCAR can expand in numbers, coverage area and staff. “There is a great opportunity to raise the bar around here,” he says, indicating that he has been given board latitude to aggressively follow the cash.

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