Agriculture is a family business for Jim Olivas, (center) as well as Kameron (left) and Robb Stewart. Kameron marks five generations of farming in the Central Valley. Photo by Marsha Walker at The Photegé.
Written by Edward Smith
United by a love of agriculture and a desire to help families, three generations of the same family found a home together at a Central Valley real estate brokerage.
Though the stories of grandfather Jim Olivas, son-in-law Robb Stewart and grandson Kameron Stewart began in different places and times, their shared values brought them each through Fresno State’s ag department and into the world of farm real estate with Pearson Realty.
The Stewart and Olivas family history didn’t begin in real estate.
In the ‘80s, Olivas was still on the farm, growing row and field crops outside of Hanford. It was hard supporting his family and he realized he needed to supplement his income. He took on other farming management jobs and soon discovered real estate. Three months into the job, he watched a veteran broker connect a buyer and a seller. Olivas realized he could use his own knowledge of farming to help others make decisions about their future.
“I saw the benefit that a real estate agent broker provided for people that were on the farm all the time and needed this added help, just like any other professional attorney or accountant,” Olivas said.
Getting into the regiment and routine was difficult in his transition to real estate broker, but his understanding of farm production helped him discuss a grower’s needs.
“It was never a deterrent, just a change in my thinking,” he said.
Pearson Realty even developed its satellite Visalia office around Olivas’ work in the South Valley.
For Robb, even though he had secured his real estate license after graduating from Fresno State, just as Olivas had and Kameron would, he hadn’t yet found his way to real estate. He instead got into banking, working on trusts and estate planning.
He spent 15 years working with families to decide the future of their finances. But as Robb courted Olivas’ daughter, Hope, conversation would turn to what they were familiar with — agriculture and real estate.
Outside of their professional relationship, the two would discuss farming as well as real estate when the family got together.
“Jim and I really have three different relationships — we have a family relationship — obviously — a business relationship and he’s my friend, too,” Robb said.
Olivas had a chance to work with Robb occasionally on estate transfers with the bank and he liked the work he saw. Olivas would gently prod him about what the potential could be with a career in real estate.
“It was in my mind all the time about it and how to do it,” said Robb. It took Olivas a number of years to convince Stewart to leave banking and go into real estate. But once he did, it seemed a natural fit.
He liked helping people prepare their lives, and it deepened his knowledge of matters surrounding his own life.
When it came time for Kameron to decide where his future lay, “osmosis” had already given him knowledge of the issues facing ag real estate and even the lingo brokers and farmers use to communicate. He graduated Fresno State in 2016 and started at Pearson this year.
As a child, he rode along with his father and grandfather on trips to farms to meet with clients. He watched them file paperwork. He would discuss real estate trends out on hunting trips, but his passion still lay in agriculture. And in real estate, he found a way to bring the two things together.
“I love the process of it. I like knowing not only that I’m providing a service to feed the world, but it seems God has called his people to be stewards of the Earth and care for it, and I feel there’s no better way to do it than that,” Kameron said.
Today, the Stewarts work out of Pearson Realty’s Bakersfield office while Olivas still works out of Visalia. They still find themselves calling each other for advice or occasionally riding shotgun with one another to meet clients.
The knowledge doesn’t always flow downhill, though. Just as often as Kameron and Robb turn to Olivas for his expertise, Olivas relies on them just as much.
“If I didn’t, I couldn’t continue on in the industry because it changes so rapidly, not just technology but market conditions,” Olivas said.
The office environment has changed from one phone shared at an office to everyone having a cell phone. A week’s worth of research in the past can be done in 10 minutes, Robb said. And the three of them bring each of their talents to the table.
“What makes these three gentlemen different is their expertise,” said John Stewart, president of Pearson Realty and no relation to the family. “You can have all the knowledge, all the information in the world, but if you don’t have all the expertise to know how to apply it, it’s just information.”