were making a month,” says Polychron, noting that the high interest rates in the mid-1980s helped boost earnings, along with his
knack for winning accounts, including home loans.
One account holder he got to know quite well was Virginia Kelley,
the mother of Bill Clinton. During their years in Little Rock, the Polychrons had supported Clinton’s election as Arkansas attorney general in 1976. Their friendship has remained steadfast. When Clinton
lost the governor’s seat in 1980 after one term, Polychron was one
of five Little Rock pals he consulted for their unvarnished advice.
The voters hadn’t liked Clinton’s decision to hike license plate fees
or his wife Hillary’s apparent disregard for social protocols as the
state’s first lady. Clinton returned as governor in the next election,
better attuned to voter sentiments, and never lost another election.
Making his fifth appearance at an NAR event, Clinton was back
with his old friend in November, formally installing Polychron during
the inaugural gala at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New
Orleans (see page 37). “Chris always knew what was important
[and] he always knew what was right,” Clinton told REALTORS®
attending the gala. “I’m glad that you made him your president.”
Finding Real Estate
When Polychron left banking, it was to take a chance on an industry
he loved, thoroughbred racing. For two years, he sold horses for the
largest thoroughbred purveyor in the central U.S. region. But while
he remains a devoted racing fan and a box-seat holder at Oaklawn
race track, horse sales proved a volatile business—one that abruptly bottomed out in 1986, when changes to the federal tax code
eliminated the tax benefits of such investments.
Polychron got his real estate license and sought a spot as an
agent with McAdams Realty, a thriving independent brokerage in Hot
Springs (which became an ERA franchise in 2007). “I asked around
and learned it was the best company in town,” Polychron says.
But broker-owner Jim McAdams demurred, saying he had no
desk space. So Polychron went to work for a competitor but kept
an eye on McAdams. Six months later, he says, “I walked into
Jim’s office with two boxes and said, ‘Where is my desk? I’m going
to work for you, so figure it out.’ He found me a spot.”
Within two years, Polychron was responsible for a third of the
brokerage’s sales, and in 1994 he became a managing broker and
co-owner, flourishing with the brokerage for 24 years. Three years
ago, Polychron and his daughter moved to 1st Choice. But he re-
mains on great terms with McAdams, who served as the master of
ceremonies at Polychron’s inaugural. “Chris has done it all—sales,
management, and land development. He can feel every practi-
tioner’s joy and pain,” says McAdams. The industry will benefit from
his “talent for marketing and dealing with people,” he adds.
Arkansas has only seven national directors who vote on NAR
leadership slates. (California, by comparison, has 110.) But Poly-
is that there’s
a little good
the part I
focus on. I
nurse, and Nikki.
It’s Nikki, a licensee since 2003 and
president of the Hot Springs Association
of REALTORS® in 2012, who will handle
many of the team’s day-to-day business
decisions during Polychron’s presidency.
The father-daughter team’s top year
in business together was 2007, when
their sales volume reached $15.8 million.
For the past few years, their sales have
hovered in the $4 million to $6 million
range. At year’s end they were handling
about 20 listings, ranging from small
vacation homes and vacant lots to commercial buildings with multiple tenants.
Polychron is also a successful investor
and developer. One of his projects is the
83-lot Quail Ridge Estates subdivision, a
few miles from downtown, where he and
Janis built their home 10 years ago.
There, the Polychrons regularly gather
for Sunday dinner with their daughters
and their families, including three grandchildren, who range in age from 7 to 18.
Chris is very likely to be the chef.
“Cooking is one way I relax,” he says.
Others favorite pastimes include gardening, quail hunting, exercising at the gym,
and playing cards. Despite the varied demands on his life, Polychron is generally a
laid-back soul with a penchant for finding
the positive in others. “My philosophy
about people is that there’s a little good in
everybody, and that’s the part I focus on. I
really mean that,” he says.
That sunny-side-up approach served
him well in his earlier careers in bond
sales, banking, and (briefly) thoroughbred horse sales. Before he got into
real estate in 1987, the pinnacle of his
professional life had been his five years as
president of Grand National Bank, a Hot
Springs institution where deposits quadrupled from $20 million when he came
aboard in 1979 to $80 million by 1984
when the bank was sold. “When I arrived
the bank was losing around $50,000 a
month. When I left, that’s how much we