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SBJ photo by BRIAN BROWN
SBJ photo by BRIAN BROWN

Five Questions: Jason Graf

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The Springfield Metro Rotary Club named Murphy Business & Financial Corp. broker Jason Graf its Rotarian of the Year for contributions he’s made since the chapter launched in March 2011. Graf, 34, said he joined national brokerage firm Murphy Business in June 2010 after a half-dozen interviews convincing local district operators he was right for the job. Graf, a former owner of mortgage firm Graf Financial Services, is also a Score counselor, a member of Springfield Sertoma Club and involved with Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce committees.

Entrepreneurial Spirit
“I owned a mortgage company and (Atlas Property and Realty) until 2007. … I had a partner and he ran the real estate side. (The recession) had a lot to do with (their closures), but personal reasons had a lot to with it as well. … I stumbled upon Murphy, and I knew right away this was the company I wanted to be with … because it co-brokers with anybody within the company nationwide. … Based out of Clearwater, Fla., we have roughly 145 branches or franchises in 35 regions. This office is the central region, which covers Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. (We serve) small- to medium-size businesses that are looking for an exit strategy.”

Changing Markets
“I do believe I’ve had the most volume out of about 20 brokers in the central region in 2011, which was quite a tough year. I had two transactions. … The banks are starting to reach out to us, and say, ‘We are ready to start looking at deals.’ The overall rhetoric in the industry itself and the general population is that the economy is doing better. We are seeing more interest. We have already had several transactions close this year.”

The Award Goes To …
“I was a charter member of the Springfield Metro Rotary in March 2011. (The award) was a huge honor. It was quite a shock, actually. I take the position that I really wasn’t doing anything more than what I felt I was supposed to do as a Rotarian. I was just doing what all Rotarians do. It makes it more of a big deal to me knowing that my grandfather and my uncle were Rotarians as well. My uncle was actually named Rotarian of the Year in 1967.”

Working Club
“We are really a hands-on club. Every fifth Tuesday we go out into the community. We’ve painted the Carol Jones Recovery Center. We’ve painted the Pregnancy Care Center, just recently. As a club, we went to Joplin and tore down several homes and cleared several lots, which was quite a moving experience. One of the projects that I’ve had the honor of heading up was the “Habit Store” at McGregor Elementary. Basically, the students have an area in which they have to perform at a certain level, and it is all tied to attendance. If they (meet the criteria) they get to go to the Habit Store and pick out everything from toiletries to toys. The first month we did the store, there was a girl who took 10 minutes to decide between a pair of gloves, a pair of socks and a roll of toilet paper.”

Hitting Home
“Obviously, there is an emotional impact when you see the impact that you’re having on these kids or when you go to Joplin and you see the devastation and the people you’re helping there. But Rotary for me is about responsibility to community and doing my part to give back to a community that has provided me with my whole life – my friends and my family, and my relationships and my employment, my education. To be able to give back is, I think, part of being a responsible citizen.”
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