FARGO — When Erik Hatch left youth ministry in 2011, he set out to become successful in real estate. While he was achieving his goals on paper, something was off.
“I was pretty miserable,” Hatch says. “I thought I had to abandon who I was to work in a for-profit world.”
“I came to realize my success only exists when those I serve are successful,” he adds, noting that the servant model became his new approach, helping him work toward becoming what he most wants to be: “An extension cord to Christ.”
His ideals can be traced back to childhood, being raised by a single mother, Betty, whom Hatch says impacted all she met, then received goodness back during her cancer battle.
“As she fought (cancer), I saw people run toward us like firefighters would a dangerous situation to help and serve,” he says. To this day, those who knew his mother “rave about the energy and optimism she brought into people’s worlds.”
“She was a shining light for people,” he says. “I hope to do for others what my mom did for so many.”
First Lutheran Church, another childhood grounding force, gave Hatch his first job out of college, and he worked in youth ministry there for eight years.
“Now, in a way, I’m back to the first job I had, because I actually view my businesses as ministries,” he says.
‘Make an impact’
Sarah Link sensed something special about Hatch Realty when she interviewed to be part of the team two years ago. “It’s all about the culture fit, not necessarily about your skills but will you fit into the family,” she says.
Despite not everyone coming from the same faith base, “Everybody is super authentic to who they are here,” Link says, and all are respected.
On Wednesday mornings, team members can voluntarily gather for an inspiring session, much of it derived from principles of the faith-based Global Leadership Summit.
“It’s really everybody on the whole spectrum of faith coming together and loving on each other and truly caring about the other person’s perspective,” Link says. “(Hatch Realty) is never about, ‘We want to sell houses,’ but rather, ‘We want to make an impact, and we happen to do that through selling houses.’”
The company sponsors eight events yearly to inspire company and community giving. In October, they hosted their first Trunk or Treat event, inviting costumed children to receive treats in their parking lot and their parents to give to the community. This month, they’ll have their annual Pie Day, through which participants bring winter wear for a local nonprofit and leave with a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
Jody Hudson, development director for Creative Care for Reaching Independence (CCRI), says she’s grateful for the Hatch spirit of giving, which has benefited CCRI clients living with disabilities, including the many living in poverty.
“Erik’s team did a campaign and collected personal-care items for us,” she says, items that, “if you have to choose between eating or having those things, you’re going to probably choose the food.”
She’s been impressed with how the Hatch team interacts. “It seems like it’s more than a place to work,” Hudson says, “but that they have this genuine care for each other.”
Link says the events inspire an atmosphere of giving that transcends campaigns. Recently, when her friend Merideth Sorenson learned of a cancer diagnosis while pregnant, she reached out to co-workers and collected enough money to provide a closetful of diapers and other necessities.
“I just put an envelope on my desk, and so many people were so willing to just give out of their own pockets,” she says. “They’d never met Merideth, but they knew what was in my heart.”
It also manifests through an openness to off-site ministry. For the past several years, Tyler Heins, a buyer’s agent, has helped lead a group from Hatch to do mission work for a week or so in January, bringing them to the garbage dumps of Nicaragua.
“When I first met with Erik, I was captivated by his heart for God and his vision,” Heins says, noting that he formerly worked as a youth pastor. “For a lot of us, this is a place where we can thrive not only in business, but something that matters so much more.”
Though the impact they can make in a week may be small, Heins admits, “It recalibrates the mind to understand what’s important. To rub shoulders with people in desperate need sheds light on how blessed we are.”
Transaction Coordinator Shar Anderson has been with Hatch Realty from its 2014 beginning, and has watched the faith element thrive in her workplace.
“You don’t have to feel like you’re putting your light under a bushel,” she says. “When you’re in Christ, you carry Christ in you all the time, but this gives you freedom to bring it into the office, and beyond.”
It doesn’t mean everyone walks around with halos on their heads, Anderson clarifies. “I might say the wrong thing at times, but there’s that spirit of grace and mercy that we extend to one another.”
Hatch also acknowledges imperfection, saying, “I have fumbled my way forward every day,” but synthesizing one’s faith and work life brings peace.
“It’s exhausting to be two people,” he says. “To be a man of God in my 9-to-5 life is so much easier than showing up to work and abandoning those values and the things in which I am deeply rooted.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Nov. 8, 2018.]