BY JACK SHORT - Mary Beth Tvaroch works for Michael Saunders & Company, is an island real estate broker associate, teaches personality assessment and volunteers for Relay for Life. Those are only a few of the interests that keep her running at a hyperactive pace through the busy season and beyond.
Her first taste of Boca Grande came when she moved here from Ohio after high school at the same time as her future husband, Joe, whose family had lived in the area since the ’70s.
“I was 17 years old, going to school full-time, waiting tables full-time at the Cajun Club, living with a roommate, going to the beach, being a teenager,” she said.
She wanted to graduate from a university, so after a year and a half at what was then Manatee Community College she moved to Ohio to attend YSU, where she earned a degree in marketing with a minor in economics.
She said she knew from the beginning that’s what she wanted to do.
“My whole family were entrepreneurs. They were in real estate, my mother sold clothes out of Duluth, Minn. and Chicago. She has sales trophies lining the walls in her basement.”
Mary Beth’s memories of her mother’s sales successes – winning trips, prizes and 8-track stereos – made an impression.
After college and a brief stay in California, she worked as an assistant manager at a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio – Max and Erma’s.
She found her first calling at 25. Jenny Craig International hired her as a weight loss consultant.
Mary Beth had always been an avid health and fitness enthusiast, and after a friend recommended seeking out a spot at Jenny Craig, she says she called them “probably about 10 times” until they'd give her an interview. Undoubtedly impressed by her technique, they hired her.
She says she gained her clients’ trust and cooperation because she was pursuing fitness goals right alongside them.
“I had a few pounds to lose myself. I lost weight with my clients. I wasn’t some skinny person telling them what to do, but that only lasted three months and then I moved on to sales.”
Jenny Craig asked Mary Beth to open a new center an hour south of Columbus, and afterward she returned to Columbus and opened another center nearby.
She was then chosen for Jenny Craig’s Make A Difference team, and spent the next nine months traveling around Michigan, Massachusetts, and Milwaukee; and Calgary, Banff and Toronto in Canada. She trained fellow employees in sales, how to manage weight loss centers and employees.
She became an assistant regional manager for seven months in Canton, Mich. before being promoted to regional director in Milwaukee for a year, and then took over six failing centers in Charlotte, N.C.
Mary Beth finished her time with Jenny Craig as regional supervisor for North and South Carolina, overseeing 50 people and 10 centers.
She was living in Charlotte, N.C. when she heard from her future husband, Joe, a salesman for Grande Aire in Boca Grande, for the first time in 10 years. They had come to Boca Grande together after high school when they were both younger, but had gone their separate ways.
When she had moved back up north to attend YSU, he had stayed.
In 1998, they hadn’t seen each other in 10 years when he called her mother to get her phone number. “I’ve known him since we were freshmen in high school,” at Warren G. Harding high in Warren, Ohio, she said.
Less than a year later she moved to Nashville, Tenn. and they were married in 2000. Joe brought his daughter, Kate, to the family and then they had their son, Benjamin, who is now 11.They moved back to the area in 2004 with their children. She came back to the island to work in real estate as a broker for Boca Buyers for a short time and then started a firm called Gulf Island Real Estate.When the housing market collapsed, she worked as a substitute elementary school teacher for four years before returning to her chosen career.
“I decided to go back to real estate and chose Michael Saunders. And wanted to go back into Boca Grande because that’s my home, that’s where I started. I’m comfortable out here.”She recounted her story at a startling pace.
Mary Beth was animated and effusive when speaking on a subject close to her heart, as when she spoke about Benjamin’s Tae Kwon Do.
“He just made black belt,” she said. “First degree black belt, and he’s 11 years old. Now he's going into jiujitsu and he’s getting a real sword!”
She says she and Joe are proud of his high grades and interest in martial arts.
“He’s going to be a master mixed martial arts fighter and a doctor,” she said. “What a combination.”
Kate, a hostess at Boca Royale Golf and Country Club, lives nearby in north Englewood.
Though her family is still scattered around the country and lives mostly up north, she says she and Joe are here to stay because of their ties to the community and affection for the area.
This will be her third year involved with Relay for Life in Boca Grande, raising money for cancer research. She is the activities and event coordinator for her team – Team Hudson’s – as well as for this year’s Boca Grande community Relay for Life event. She has recruited people to do a martial arts demo, Boca Idol, a Zumba class, dance contests and a cakewalk which, it should be noted, involves free cakes.
The Relay runs from 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27 until 9 a.m. Sunday.
“I’m up 24 hours. We don’t sleep – cancer doesn’t sleep.”
That doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch for Mary Beth. She said between the time spent working at her office and at The Hammocks, she figures she puts in about 70 hours a week, and Joe puts in more than that.
When things slow down, they hope to travel more. But until then, shorter jaunts to places like Orlando and Ohio will have to suffice. Greece and Tuscany are on her “bucket list,” she said.
So is writing a childrens’ book.
True to form, her interests run the gamut.
“Health and fitness and travel. And anything on the water, put me on a boat, put me on the water and I’m so happy,” she said.
She loves water skiing, she said. She learned when she was younger.
“When I was 17, I had friends with a boat,” she said. “We used to go to Ski Alley. We would go every chance we got. If I wasn’t studying or working I was on the water.”
She said she doesn’t get as much time on the water as she’d like, but her workouts, spinning, Zumba and P90X Insanity keep her going and help her decompress.
She has always been physical, training in gymnastics until she was 6 and then dance until she was 19.
She also played the flute in high school.
She puts that energy to work alongside a well-developed sense of intuition in her career, she said. It matches her style of salesmanship and the way she attends to her clientele.
“I think you either are a salesperson or you’re not. Real estate is not for everybody. You have to love people.”
She said some of her most gratifying moments came from helping someone “who never thought they’d own a house in their life” to find and purchase a home.
“I have about 50 testimonial letters and cards and ‘thank you’s’ so it’s so rewarding,” she said.
Just as with her position at Jenny Craig, the draw of real estate was helping people achieve personal goals.
Her style includes personal touches like dropping in with a pizza when her clients are moving, and staying in touch with them for birthdays and anniversaries.
“I know their favorite foods, favorite drinks, the anniversary they closed on their home, when they were born,” she said. “I plan on staying in touch with them forever.”
In 1999 she became certified to train people in Meyers-Briggs personality assessment. She trained some of the teachers at the Island School two years ago. Mary Beth said she feels that students, professionals and others can benefit because it helps people know how to interact more effectively with others.
She said that individuals who understand their own personality will succeed in unexpected ways.
“My husband is an introvert, but he's in sales. He’s very good because he’s a very good listener.”
Mary Beth is amused by the way she’s come full circle, back to the place she fell in love with as a young girl.
“Isn’t if funny how we came right back here?”
He was operations manager at Donelson Air Conditioning, a $25 million company in Nashville, before jumping into sales for the same company.Mary Beth said Joe is more mathematical and introverted, but their mismatched personalities make for a better marriage. “If you marry the same type, you'll butt heads,” she said.Benjamin is probably mature enough to handle it, too. She said that since he was ten he’s done his own laundry every Saturday and has taken on noodle-cooking responsibilities in addition to motivating the family to paint their house.“I told you I was going to go all over the place,” she said.
E-mail (required, but will not display)
Notify me of follow-up comments
Click for a larger view