Monday, March 1, 2010

The Queen of Realtors: Meza Harris

Written by Roger Lee

A “short” biography of Meza Harris would have to be related in three segments (at least): childhood, motherhood, and career. As the latter period seems to engender the most interest these days, and covers the Meza that the modern NWA generation recognizes, we will favor her most recent, though surprisingly short (16 years) “professional” history.

That said, the childhood and motherhood eras offer a great deal of insight into the origins of the seemingly intrinsic qualities that surfaced, as the necessities of life impelled Meza into the real estate sales stratosphere.

She was born the youngest of seven children, and to say she was the “coddled princess” would be a gross understatement. This does not translate into “spoiled and arrogant”—to the contrary, her mother was a matriarchal figure of legendary ilk, and her Father was a kind, brilliant, self-effacing man, as calm as a quiet sea, yet always busy, with another project or invention (stop by the Bentonville Fire Station and see the fire engine he built by hand, recently restored). Decidedly shy, Meza, nevertheless, by virtue of her parents’ and siblings’ care and nurture, slowly morphed into an assured, statuesque, bright, kind and talented (great dancer and mischievous, witty cheerleader/student) high school personality, where she was one of the leaders of the “BIG 8”, an aggressively active group of eleven (go figure) girls, who ran the social calendar of teen-aged Bentonville High, from 1959 to 1962.

Married in the mid-Sixties, Meza had two children, David and Aricka, and settled into the motherhood era. As her gregarious and bubbly personality would dictate, her children’s friends gravitated toward the Harris household, as that was where social and joyous excitement originated. It was a happy, adventurous, and enlightening time, just as several small businesses in Northwest Arkansas began legends of their own.

In 1994, with her children essentially out of the nest, and a couple of personal hiccups behind her, Meza decided to “try” real estate (she had gotten her license, in the early Eighties, but had never sold a house). As she has iterated, she could not have picked a better career, though it was as if the career picked her. She readily gives credit to God, for ever-so-slowly guiding her in a direction that would place her (it would seem, perfectly) solidly into the right “calling”, especially since she never thought of herself as a “salesperson”.

Within a few days of her entry into the business, she was given “floor duty”, which translates to younger agents being assigned to the front desk, to take calls and greet prospective clients. She received a call from a Wal-Mart coordinator, who asked that she show one of their prospective employees around, as she sought to rent a house or apartment. Though this could not possibly be monetarily profitable, Meza, nevertheless, agreed and took on the task. Apparently, Meza radiated such personality, style, grace, and sweetness (all of this was just Meza acting normally), that the “prospective employee” gave a glowing, scintillating review of her “Meza Experience” to her Walmart compatriots.

That was the first, last, and only time Meza had floor duty. Buoyed by a reasonably steady (though a bit peripatetic) stream of prospects, Meza’s reach expanded, as her reputation for fairness and an unmatched dedication to her customers’ and clients’ best interests, became common knowledge, among business people, other agents, and the regular citizen-home-buyers-and-sellers.

Her “on-call-24/7” attitude was more an extension of her almost-manic desire to take care of her “people”, and her love of the interaction with the young and vibrant people, who gravitated in droves toward Northwest Arkansas. Meza contends that her work is “easy” and that she “fell in love” with the business, but she has also been blessed with four grandchildren, each of whom she loved from the moment she learned they were en route into the world. She credits them with bringing peace and absolute joy into the hectic, all-demanding (and sometimes, contentious) professional world that she dominates. As she says, “stress flies out the window when I’m watching Peyton (10), doggedly, patiently, and determinedly building some huge project, or taking Rachel (10) and her friends to the WAC for some joyous performance, or competing with Jackson (6) in a WII tennis or bowling match, or repeatedly kissing and hugging Sam (2)”.

She has led real estate sales in Northwest Arkansas for most of the last 16 years and, for the sake of property owners, buyers, and sellers, it is hoped that she will continue to shelter and coddle them for the next 16 years.

This should be an easy task for her, as she has been cared for and nurtured by her mother, father, sisters and brothers throughout her lifetime, a tradition upheld and enhanced by her children and grandchildren.

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