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Helmut Schmidt, Published January 10 2014

Jack Chivers Realty changes hands; Lakes County cheerleader says he'll keep selling

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Longtime Lakes Country promoter and real estate stalwart Jack Chivers has stepped down as owner of the company that bears his name.

Chivers, 72, has sold Jack Chivers Realty to a former employee, Dirk Ockhardt.

Now he’ll work for Ockhardt as a salesman.

“I’m not retiring. I’m just changing my position. I have a smaller office in back now, and I’m happier than hell,” Chivers said Friday.

“When you’re doing things you really like, you never work a day in your life. I don’t consider selling real estate work. I like people,” he said.

Ockhardt, 35, of Fargo, started working at Jack Chivers Realty at the end of 2012. He took over the Detroit Lakes-based firm Jan. 1.

The German-born entrepreneur said he’s kept the firm’s name and he’ll build on Chivers’ legacy, even as he freshens up the company’s website and marketing.

Ockhardt said he’s also working to sell properties to wealthy Europeans who want a lakeshore home or land to hunt – something difficult to come by in some countries.

“I’m lucky to be allowed to continue that (legacy),” Ockhardt said. “I think he (Chivers) enjoys that I’m not shy in being different.”

Lakes Country cheerleader

Chivers started working in Lakes Country in 1966 for Calhoun Realty of Minneapolis. His territory included Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

In 1980, he started Jack Chivers Realty.

Over the years, Chivers said he has sold at least 176 resorts and hotels, as well as small-town newspapers, printing companies and radio stations. He also acquired land for the Menard’s stores in Moorhead, Bemidji and Detroit Lakes.

Chivers said the commercial sales worked hand-in-hand with selling lakeshore properties.

He owns a home on Big Detroit Lake, and he convinced many businesspeople that he met that they, too, could own a little piece of lakeside heaven.

“Essentially, all my adult life I’ve looked out a window and looked at a lake,” Chivers said.

Chivers at one time also owned Travel Travel in Detroit Lakes, another travel firm called Magnum America’s Hunting and Fishing Tours, and Captain Morgan’s Retreat, a resort in the Central American country of Belize. However, he no longer has a hand in any of those ventures.

His wife, DelRae Chivers, said her husband is one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Lakes Country.

“He truly felt the Lakes Country was the center of the universe. And he marketed like that,” she said.

DelRae Chivers said she will also stay at the firm but will move from being the business manager, a post she’s held for 12 years, to sales. She’s happy with that but thinks her husband may have the best deal.

“He’s in a position where he never has to retire,” DelRae said. “He can stay talking with people, maintaining relationships and building new relationships. It’s a retirement dream. And he can do it while he’s selling.”

For his part, Chivers said his longevity in the business will depend on “the big guy in the sky.”

“If he lets me, I want to keep selling for about 10 more years,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583