‘You walk in and it’s dirt, and when you leave it’s this thriv­ing fam­ily com­mu­nity’

StarMetro Calgary - - SPECIAL FEATURE: NEW HOMES -

For Mary Anderson, help­ing peo­ple be­come home­own­ers isn’t just a job — it’s part of a life­long pas­sion.

“As a teenager, I used to sit in church and draw houses,” says Anderson, the area sales man­ager for Step­per Homes in the Cochrane com­mu­nity of Her­itage Hills. “I think I re­ally liked ar­chi­tec­ture.”

That love of build­ings de­vel­oped in Honolulu, Hawaii, where Anderson grew up from ages 13 to 25. She was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., but her sales­per­son dad soon moved the fam­ily to New West­min­ster, B.C., then south to the Los An­ge­les area be­fore head­ing to the idyl­lic is­lands where Anderson spent her for­ma­tive years.

It was there that she earned her real-es­tate li­cence as soon as she was of age.

“Sales was ob­vi­ously in my blood,” she says.

Re­turn­ing to Canada when she was 25, Anderson ar­rived in Al­berta from Hawaii — in mid-Jan­uary. Be­fore long she was build­ing a ca­reer in home sales, be­gin­ning in the mul­ti­fam­ily sec­tor. She and her hus­band moved to Van­cou­ver for a few years, then came back to Cal­gary in 1998.

Af­ter work­ing with a few other builders, Anderson found her niche at Step­per 10 years ago and has never looked back.

“It’s just a great group of peo­ple, a re­ally sup­port­ive team,” she says. “They treat you fairly, your man­ager al­ways has your back — and once in a while they lis­ten to me!” she says with a laugh.

She started with Step­per at Her­itage Hills, which was just be­gin­ning to sell at the time. Lo­cated on Cochrane’s north­west edge, the com­mu­nity — de­vel­oped by High­field Land Man­age­ment — is now in its fi­nal two phases.

Af­ter a five-and-a-half-year stint in Step­per’s busy showhomes in the south Cal­gary com­mu­nity of Ma­hogany, she was happy to re­turn to Her­itage Hills. “It’s very peace­ful and calm here,” she says.

The most re­ward­ing part of Anderson’s job is help­ing to cre­ate pos­i­tive out­comes for peo­ple who are mak­ing one of the big­gest de­ci­sions of their lives.

“You meet so many great peo­ple. You’re usu­ally work­ing with peo­ple for at least a cou­ple of months — one fam­ily talked to me for three years be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion. In the end they were so happy,” she says. “Peo­ple are of­ten deal­ing with all of life’s sit­u­a­tions while they’re buy­ing a house — they’re mov­ing from out of prov­ince, hav­ing ba­bies, get­ting mar­ried or newly sin­gle, down­siz­ing, up­siz­ing ...”

Each of those home­buy­ers play a role in turn­ing a new de­vel­op­ment into a vi­brant neigh­bour­hood, and that’s a process Anderson never gets tired of see­ing.

“You walk in and it’s dirt, and when you leave it’s this thriv­ing fam­ily com­mu­nity.”

She and her hus­band of 37 years have three sons, one of whom lives in Van­cou­ver and the other two in Cal­gary. In her free time Anderson loves to travel and visit winer­ies, and she has a pas­sion for gar­den­ing. But she loves her work, and that’s a good thing given the na­ture of new-home sales.

“It’s very de­mand­ing and you have to be very self-mo­ti­vated. But I can’t imag­ine do­ing any­thing else. I do love this — I get to come to work in a beau­ti­ful house ev­ery day, one that some­one else cleans. It’s awe­some!”

Founded in 1956 by Ger­man im­mi­grant Rudy Step­per, Step­per Homes be­gan small but grew as a fam­ily busi­ness into one of Cal­gary’s premier res­i­den­tial builders.

The com­pany has built 8,000-plus homes in more than 50 com­mu­ni­ties in and around Cal­gary, all while win­ning nu­mer­ous awards for ex­cel­lence in ev­ery facet of its busi­ness.

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