A Story of Faith
All good stories have plenty of twists and turns, challenges and magical moments, and Kim Dean’s is no exception.
After a difficult stretch of time following a divorce and a change in career, Kim had no idea the stroke of luck she would happen upon one morning at church. She hadn’t been to church in a while, but a little voice told her that she should get up that morning and go.
It would turn out to be one of the most pivotal decisions she’d make, both personally and professionally.
First a little back story…Kim opened a brokerage with her sister in 2008 after five years at other real estate franchises. They decided to take the plunge and go it on their own, doing away with team fees and franchise brokerage fees. Their own team grew organically and business was good despite the abrupt market downturn. But, as Kim said, “Life happened.” Real estate was put on the back burner as they battled burnout and Kim balanced family matters and navigated a divorce. “I began entertaining law school,” she remembered, “Because I worried about being a single mom with a 100 percent commission job.”
She decided to go through SMU’s paralegal program instead, which landed her a job at a law firm in downtown Dallas. Kim stayed at the law firm for a year before deciding the daily commute down from McKinney was not sustainable. Real estate was her first love, and she knew that’s where she wanted to be. She was in the process of figuring out how to go back to real estate full time when a happenstance encounter piqued her interest and then eventually quelled her anxieties about how she could make a career in real estate a reality.
So back to that fateful day at church… “You might think this is strange,” the man said as he handed her a program, “But I recognize you from your LinkedIn profile.” He was the door greeter at Kim’s church, but he was also a recruiter contracted by LaCore Enterprises, who happened to be on the hunt for a paralegal with a background in real estate. In that moment, the stars aligned, and Kim understood why she felt a strong urging to be in church that morning. “I tell this story because my faith is so important to me. This is truly a story of faith,” Kim said. The fog began to clear and her trajectory pointed ever-upward.
LaCore Enterprises is an incubator for startup businesses, Kim explained, and they’re in every industry you can think of — including charter planes. “This explains why we office out of the McKinney Airport,” she laughed. Kim came on board with LaCore in December 2013, assisting with corporate formation, relocations for employees moving in from out of state, and managing a small portfolio of properties. Her entrepreneurial background was impressive and helpful, giving her an advantage in every initiative, and a lens through which she learned as companies were formed. “I got to see why companies either succeed or fail” she said. It was a Masterclass in Entrepreneurship.
Then, there was another twist. Enter: Derek…again. Derek had been a friend for years. He and Kim had gone to high school together in Carrollton, in fact. Their worlds overlapped and they shared the same circle of friends, but never dated. After high school, their paths diverged — Kim went to Texas A&M and Derek went to the University of North Texas — but they still seemed to orbit each others’ lives from a distance. In 2014, thanks to social media, they reconnected. They picked right back up where they left off, forming a fast friendship and falling in step with the other’s social circles. They soon decided, despite fears about harming social dynamics, that they wanted to give a relationship a shot. It was a success — they were engaged by 2016 and married soon after. It was around the same time two years later that Terry LaCore, President of LaCore Enterprises, offered to partner with them in a residential brokerage. Ever-upward.
An attorney who Kim worked with early on at LaCore took note of her passion and excitement around the real estate portion of her job. “She could tell that’s what I loved most,” Kim said, so they spent the next year dreaming up and building what Kim and Derek called “the perfect brokerage.” They knew what kind of culture they wanted to cultivate, and part of it included a “Chip and Joanna vibe,” Kim said, referencing the dynamic duo of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. The other crucial aspect of the brokerage is the name, obviously. When asked, they came up with the name “Simply Texas Realt Estate,” Derek answered, half-jokingly: “A lot of sleepless nights!” The pair knew that a “brand-able” name was important, and that they wanted it to be reflective of the family-style culture of the company. They woke up in the middle of the night with lots of ideas, Derek recalled, before finally landing on “Simply Texas.” They originally started out in the Melissa office, but quickly outgrew it, deciding to make the move to their own space in McKinney.
On a day-to-day basis, Derek manages his personal team and helps the Dean’s buyer and seller clients while Kim manages a brokerage of over 50 agents, facilitates training and runs the brokerage. Their team growth has been thanks to word-of-mouth messaging and referrals. They do business the same way — all referrals, no paid advertising. It’s worked out well for them, as they saw 40% growth in 2020. Their growth is calculated and deliberate, as they don’t intend to expand beyond and character is everything,” Kim explained. They are hoping to bring on a few more experienced agents in the near future, but not just for the purposes of increasing volume. Kim and Derek have developed a robust mentorship program for rookie agents that partners them with veteran agents, exposing them to various styles of purchasing and selling. New agents also journey through a series of 8-week courses which not only empower them in their day-to-day initiatives, but orient them to the culture of Simply Texas.
Within the next five years or so, Kim and Derek also hope to open a co-working space to be able to train agents, host events, and serve the community in north Collin County — particularly the residents in and around the McKinney/Sherman corridor. “Right now, those residents have to drive to McKinney or Plano or Frisco to utilize a co-working space, and we want to provide gathering places for them that are more practical,” Kim explained.
“Kim makes herself available — practically 24/7 — to the agents,” Derek shared, emphasizing how important their team is to them. Kim answered, “They deserve it. Our agents deserve to be empowered and it breaks my heart when they come from other brokerages and tell me they didn’t have the resources they needed.”
The only time she’s not available, Kim said, is when she’s with a client or “on the ice.” They’re a hockey family, she continued. They’re a sporty bunch in general, as another shared hobby outside of work includes visiting Major League Baseball stadiums. Derek is a golfer, as well, and they both enjoy working out together outside the office. Derek also recently committed to walking 100 miles for the American Cancer Society. At the time of our interview, he only had about 15 miles to go. After losing his father to cancer — and beating kidney cancer himself earlier this year — Derek is passionate about supporting the American Cancer Society, and as of March, he was the top fundraiser in Texas.
It takes a particular kind of person to run toward the fire instead of away from from it, and Kim and Derek have that instinct — whatever it is, wherever it comes from. One could speculate that it’s derived at least partially from their faith, but the desire to not only overcome challenges, but to embrace them and allow the fire to shape them in a positive way seems inborn and natural to them in a way that can’t be learned. They embody those attributes separately, but together they’re twice as evident.
Kim and Derek just celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary in March on the same day Simply Texas turned two. We joked that they were celebrating two birthdays that day — and it was true. The union of Kim and Derek and the formation of Simply Texas birthed a specific kind of light that’s worth celebrating. And their story is a reminder that good can come from bad, difficult, strange things, and that miracles can happen in the middle of everyday life.
Get in touch with Kim and Derek via email (firstname.lastname@example.org and derek@gosimplytexaslcom) to learn more about their business, their team, and their story.