As a principal for First Team Commercial, Tad Dixon has built one of Orlando’s up-and-coming real estate firms that offer brokerage, consulting and project management services for clients throughout the Southeast. But early on in life, it seemed like his future was in information technology.
At an age when most middle-schoolers were scraping together paper route or chore money to go to the movies, Dixon had his own computer consulting business.
“It was the dawn of the age of the PC,” says the now 33-year-old Dixon. “They broke more often and people were less capable of fixing them.”
What began as a tech-savvy kid’s way of helping his friends and family grew exponentially, filling a neighborhood niche. By the time the College Park native graduated from Edgewater High School, he had about 40 residential clients and 10 commercial accounts.
“I had a lot more money than my friends back then!” he laughs. “It was the wealthiest I’ve ever felt in my life.”
As a student at the University of Georgia in Athens, Dixon studied business with an emphasis on Management Information Systems. “IT, at the time, had really good job placement out of college, and I’d always thought that this type of knowledge could also be leveraged in other fields.”
The roots of his dad’s own real estate career eventually led Dixon to where he is now, combined with a fortuitous internship. But his perseverance in client retention through college did net him something else valuable: his wife, Kelby.
“I had this client base in Orlando,” he says, “but I was in school in Athens, so I began to think about how that could translate, so the business evolved in web design and hosting.” The summer of his sophomore year, Dixon was called to a client’s office to work on a computer – the one on which Kelby was working as a summer intern. “Whatever it was I had to do took long enough for us to make a connection.”
Dixon’s own internship was fortuitous, as well.
“In my junior year, I interned for a car dealer who had sold his business and gone into real estate. And a requirement of the internship was getting my real estate license.” His work at the Maitland firm culminated in a full-time job offer. And when his boss – Warner Peacock (now president and CEO of Peacock Automotive) decided to get back into the car business, Dixon took the reins on the real estate side during the transition.
These days, while he keeps his chops up-to-date in residential land and subdivision brokerage – most recently with Pulte Homes – Dixon’s primary focus is on the brokerage and development services for new car dealers.
Even so, he’s not a “car guy.”
“I drive a Ford Explorer,” he says. “I still have my practical College Park roots.”
That, and a Lake Silver-cultivated love of fishing. He and six-year-old daughter Hadley (one of two kids) headed out recently with four other dads and daughters for a fishing and camping weekend near Canaveral National Seashore. His flat-bottomed Jon boat is long gone, but Dixon still manages to get his hooks in the water.
“My brother and my dad have boats,” he laughs, “so I just fish off theirs!”