Jackson-area Realtors honored two of their own last week and also a longtime associate in the local economy.
The Teton Board of Realtors named Mercedes Huff its Realtor of the Year and gave Ray Elser the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual luncheon.
Also on hand to be praised was Jerry Blann, president of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, who was named Business Person of the Year.
Huff works with her daughter, Laurie, as Mercedes Huff and Associates at Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty. She said she was honored to be noted for her work.
“It really made me very happy after all these years,” Huff said. “I’ve enjoyed my work for 37 years and love working with people, putting the puzzle together of finding the property for people that suits them. It’s very satisfying to have my peers acknowledge me. … It meant a lot to me.”
Huff grew up in Connecticut and arrived in Jackson in 1972, She worked as a ski host, cocktail waitress and bookkeeper and ran her own home furnishing store. When a friend in the real estate business, Jackie Montgomery, suggested she try real estate, Huff was introduced to Bob Graham. She joined his business and spent much of a year in Gillette starting an office for him.
The move to the realty business came easily, Huff said this week.
“It was a natural fit for me, it fit right away,” she said, “because I really enjoy people.”
In 2015 Huff and her daughter sold real estate worth $73.1 million, making them the fourth-highest-rated team in Wyoming.
Elser has been involved in Jackson Hole real estate since 1980, having worked previously as a hunting guide and carpenter. He first worked for Harry Weisbrod and Chuck Tice at Pioneer Realty. He worked for a while in Texas for Coldwell-Banker Commercial Real Estate but returned to Jackson in 1992 and joined Art Hazen Real Estate. He now works for Contour Investment Properties.
“It’s humbling,” Elser said of the honor. “It’s humbling to be singled out, quite an honor. I was pretty much speechless, and people said, ‘Holy smokes, this is the first time I’ve seen you speechless.’”
In spite of the “lifetime” nature of the honor, Elser said, “I’m not ready to leave yet.”
Elser, named the board’s Realtor of the Year in 2000, has been involved in a variety of public jobs. He served 13 years on the Jackson Planning, Commission and in March ended his second three-year term on the Wyoming Real Estate Commission, which he led during part of his tenure. Elser has been on the Teton County School District’s Recreation Board for 10 years and recently was appointed to the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics.
Blann has been president of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort since 1995, during which time the ski mountain and Teton Village have seen massive growth. The resort celebrated its 50th anniversary this past winter. It has more than 1,000 winter employees and has been topping a half-millon skier days in recent seasons, putting it in the top 20 in the United States.
Blann headed Bear Mountain resort in California for five years before arriving in Jackson Hole, and before that worked 18 years in Aspen, Colorado, including four years as the resort’s president.
Blann won the Big Wyo Award earlier this year, the state’s top honor for people in the tourism business, given by the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association.