Thu04242014

Business

MAAR President Leon Dickson: Leading by example

As a kid, Leon Dickson never owned a bike and his Christmas stocking was best suited for carrying a peanut butter & jelly sandwich – a brown paper sack with his name on it. by Don Wade
Special to the Tri-State Defender

As a kid, Leon Dickson never owned a bike and his Christmas stocking was best suited for carrying a peanut butter & jelly sandwich – a brown paper sack with his name on it.

 
 Leon Dickson

But as one of 13 children growing up in a tiny house on Lucy Street in South Memphis, Dickson embraced what he did have: a mother and father who loved him and a foundation of faith that keeps him grounded all these years later.

“We never took a family vacation,” says Dickson, the new President of the Memphis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR). “How are you going to get 13 kids in one car? But I had everything I needed growing up.”

Dickson’s father ran a small TV repair shop and a tile-laying business, and the entrepreneurial spirit motivated Dickson early. As a young man, his $7.25 an hour job as a transportation department supervisor at a local hospital frustrated Dickson because he had nowhere to go. The job was a dead-end. So, while keeping that job, he earned a cosmetology license. Eventually, he opened a beauty salon that he still owns today.

“My thoughts were always about how to break the cycle of having more month than money and providing a better life for my son,” says Dickson, 52.  “I figured if my father could manage with 13 children, I could do a whole lot better with just one child and that’s what drove me.”

By 1989, Dickson had earned his real estate license. Today, he is owner of BenchMark at Southwind, LLC, and he has 30 agents working for him.

His son, Leon Jr., is now a Memphis police officer. Dickson and his wife, Mary, also have a daughter, Morgan, who will be attending the University of Memphis.

This year, Dickson has the added responsibility of serving as MAAR President. His focus: education, professionalism and integrity.

“I want to emphasize the partnership between MAAR and its members, and that this is a journey we share,” Dickson says.

“He’s level-headed,” says friend and closing attorney Ron Poe of the Poe Firm, P.C., in Germantown. “Leon’s commitment is to serve the membership.”

Service is a theme that has been visible throughout Dickson’s life.

“He did a great favor for me,” says neighbor Floyd Elder. “My daughter was in the ninth or tenth grade, I was going through a divorce, and Leon dressed up like a chauffeur with the black suit, the cap, everything, and he drove her and her date to the dance in his Mercedes.”

Two things about that favor: First, how many people would even think to do such a thing for a neighbor? Second, of those who thought about it, how many would actually follow through and do it?

Leadership, after all, is doing what most will not. And this is why Poe is confident 2011 will be a good year for the Memphis Area Association of REALTORS®.

Says Poe: “Leon will do a superlative job as MAAR’s president.”

Don Wade is MAAR Information and Research Director. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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