A win-win arrangement

The generosity of Bert Gallagher and Hudson Ferus Vodka is paying off for the new company and for the LGBT community

gallagher-and-jacobson

Bert Gallagher

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Gay Realtor Brian Bleeker knows how difficult it can be to raise money for a cause. And he knows how difficult it is for someone planning a small-scale fundraiser to find corporate sponsors for those events.

It’s not that companies don’t want to help, Bleeker said. But they plan their budget, including their charitable giving, months in advance, usually too early for those planning smaller or last-minute events to apply. The companies also usually want a lot of information on the event so they can gauge what kind of return they expect on their investment. And that is often information that organizers for smaller events don’t really have.

And then Bleeker met Bert Gallagher, cofounder and co-owner of a relatively new company producing Hudson Ferus Vodka, and that changed. Bleeker said he met Bleeker through a representative for a local liquor distributor, and he invited Gallagher to attend a mixer for the DFW Federal Club.

“It was almost two years ago, and I think he was just really impressed by the amount of time and effort people were willing to put into something we believed in,” Bleeker said.

Gallagher asked to meet with Bleeker and other local organizers, and at that meeting, “He said, ‘What can I do to help?’

Before long Gallagher had joined the DFW Federal Club and the Lambda Legal Liberty Circle, and he was donating vodka to events for those organizations and more.

And although some might be amazed that a straight man is so willing to be involved in LGBT activism, for Gallagher, it’s a no-brainer.

Gallagher and his business partner Doug Jacobson had a publication based in San Antonio before they got into the vodka business, and their first real exposure to HIV/AIDS and LGBT activism came when they were asked to sponsor the Fashion Nation event benefiting AIDS service organizations in that city.

Working with Fashion Nation organizers, Gallagher said, “gave me the chance to see firsthand how events like that can impact people’s lives. We knew then that we wanted to continue to be involved in events like that.” And when he met Bleeker and other activists in Dallas, Gallagher saw a natural extension of that involvement for Hudson Ferus.

“It was so impressive to see how organized the people are, how galvanized they are to make a difference,” Gallagher said. “The work these organizations are doing is really amazing, and that feeling has been reinforced each and every time we have sponsored an event,” he said.

Gallagher and Bleeker said that the sponsorships are definitely a win-win arrangement: Event organizers get the chance to offer free drinks made with a premium vodka, giving those attending events the chance to donate more to the cause; and the folks at Hudson Ferus are seeing their popularity rising steadily in the LGBT community.

“Folks are going in to their favorite bars and asking for Hudson Ferus, and when enough people ask for it, the bars will start stocking it. That’s how we are getting into places,” Gallagher said.

Bleeker noted that he is constantly astounded by the generosity of Gallagher and Hudson Ferus. “He has given away hundreds, thousands even, of bottles of vodka,” Bleeker said.

But for Gallagher, again, it is a no-brainer. “To whom much is given, much is expected. We have been given so much, and this is one way to give back.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

BIG SUCCESS

CELEBRATING PROGRESS  | Trial lawyer Lisa Blue Baron, center, was the keynote speaker at the recent Landmark Dinner, benefiting Lambda Legal and marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas declaring the Texas sodomy law unconstitutional. The event, held at the W Hotel Dallas, raised more than $120,000, a record for Lambda Legal’s Southwest Regional Office in Dallas. Also during the dinner, American Airlines was presented with the Corporate Equality Award, Jackson Walker was presented with the Law Firm Equality Award and Dr. Mark Parker and Eric Johnson were presented with the Persons of Style Award. Pictured with Baron are Lambda Legal Leadership Committee member Brian Bleeker and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Services

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PARTNERS IN CRIME (AND REALTY) | Chad West, left, and Brian Bleeker, who are a couple, were both winners in their respective categories. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BEST CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Chad West

614 N. Bishop Ave., Suite 2
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-509-7555
ChadWestLaw.com

 

BEST REAL
ESTATE AGENT
Brian Bleeker

Hewitt and
Habgood Realty
2828 Routh St.,
Suite 100.
Call for appointment.
214-303-1133
DavePerryMiller.com

Imagine being in the West-Bleeker household today. There’s probably a ticker-tape parade happening right now on their street owing to the one-two punch that saw Chad West voted as the city’s top criminal attorney and his partner, Brian Bleeker, honored as the best Realtor. Forget Brangelina or Bennifer: Dallas Voice readers have gone and taken a power couple and made them even more powerful. (BleeWest? Or Chian? We’ll keep working on it.) That’s OK — these guys are both at the top of their games and they deserve the accolades. Plus, you never know when you may need one or both of them on your side. Picture this scenario for a second: You walk outside to get the morning paper, the front door closes on your robe and rips it off your body. There you are, standing half-naked on your porch as a school bus full of children passes by. When the lewd conduct charges start rolling in, you’re going to need a good criminal attorney (Chad, of course!), then when word spreads through the neighborhood that there’s a pervert on the block, it’s time to hire an real estate agent (Brian!) to sell your house so you can start over some place where nobody knows who you are. And he can probably even find you a house where the front doors don’t automatically lock behind you.

— Steven Lindsey


PILLOW TALK | Aaron Duke’s eye for sleek, contemporary style made him the favorite decorator in town. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BEST INTERIOR DESIGNER
Aaron Duke

1501 Dragon St., Suite 104
Call for appointment
469-231-4438

Aaron Duke, a young and buzzed-about designer, says in his design philosophy statement that “interior design should create an emotional response from all who enter the space.” But if that response is the wrong kind of gasp, with hands covering mouth, then chances are you’ve done something wrong. And you might want to consider a new designer, such as Duke. What we like about his portfolio is that he’s not afraid of bold choices, but they’re always clean and sleek, and more importantly, never cold. He’s known for sophisticated interiors, and excels at handsome but comfortable contemporary looks. And like any good designer, he gives the customer what is wanted, without compromising his own aesthetic. We know a few stuff-loving queens who need to call him, stat.

— Mark Lowry


BEST CIVIL ATTORNEY
Rebecca S. Covell

3710 Rawlins St., Suite 950
Open Monday–Friday at 9 a.m.
214-443-0300
CovellPC.com

Although Rebecca Covell won the award for best civil or family law attorney, she points out that she’s not a divorce lawyer but someone who does wills, estates — keeping families together, she explains, not pulling them apart. That’s the kind of low-key, problem-solving approach that Covell says gets her thank-you notes more than hate mail. One client recently told her, “This is the first time I’ve ever felt good writing a check to a lawyer.” There are civil-law attorneys, and there are attorneys who know how to be civil. Covell does both — but it’s the latter that has won her so many fans.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


AN INSURANCE AGENT WHO REALLY IS A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Steven Graves

2919 Welborn St., Suite 100
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-599-0808
StevenGravesInsurance.com

Since opening his agency in 1995, Steven Graves has not only specialized in getting the best coverage for his customers, but in giving back to them and the broader community. From helping Heath Services of North Texas get new computers, office furniture and personal care products donated to filling the last 30 requests from the Leather Knights Angel Tree at Dallas Eagle (buying everything from MP3 players to watches and gift cards) to sponsoring Youth First Texas and the Texas Bear Round-Up, he insures a better Dallas for everyone. “You have to give back to the community,” Graves says. “Support those who support you.”

— David Taffet

 

BEST FASHION DESIGNER
Nicolas Villalba

Call for appointment
214-655-6820
NicolasDesigns.com

 

BEST HOME SERVICES
The Make Ready Group

Call for appointment
214-599-8757
TheMakeReadyGroup.com

 

BEST MORTGAGE COMPANY • TIE
Prime Lending (Ron Watterson)

3500 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-987-0500
DallasCentralAdmin.PrimeLending.com

Shelter Mortgage (Alex Arce)

5950 Sherry Lane
214-365-0708
Shelter-Mortgage.com

 

BEST INSURANCE AGENCY
Melanie “Angel” Irvin

Farmers Insurance Agency
14651 Dallas Parkway, Suite 110
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
972-367-6200
Farmers.com

 

BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY
Ebby Halliday Realtors

4455 Sigma Road
Call for appointment.
972-980-6600
Ebby.com

 

BEST FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
Chase Bank

4236 Wycliff Ave. (additional locations)
Open Monday–Saturday at 9 a.m.
214-443-0784
Chase.com


BEST MASSAGE
THERAPIST • TIE
David Gates, Spa Nordstrom

8687 N. Central Expressway
Call for appointment.
214-231-3900
Nordstrom.com/c/Spa-Nordstrom

Bill Richard

Available daily.
Call for appointment.
214-923-0786
DallasBill.com

 

BEST HAIR SALON
Supercuts

4113 Lemmon Ave.
Open daily.
214-522-1441
Supercuts.com

 

BEST MANI-PEDI • TIE
Hollywood Nails & Spa

3517 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open daily.
214-526-7133
HollywoodNailsandSpa.com

The Nail Spa

4020 Cedar Springs Road
Open daily.
214-526-6245
TheNailSpaDallas.net

 

BEST BODY ART
Obscurities Tattoos and Piercings

4008 Cedar Springs Road
Open Tuesday–Sunday.
214-559-3706
Obscurities.com

 

BEST TANNING SALON
B-Tan

4107 Lemmon Ave.
Open daily.
214-219-1833
BTanInc.com

 

BEST AESTHETIC
BEAUTY SERVICES
Advanced Skin Fitness

2928 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open Tuesdays­–Saturdays at 10 a.m.
214-521-5277
AdvancedSkinFitness.com

 

BEST COMPUTER SERVICES • TIE
Clint Thompson

3000 Carlisle St., Suite 103
214-550-2118
Apple Genius Bar
Apple Store, 4525 McKinney Ave. (additional locations)
Open Monday–Saturday at 8 a.m., Sundays at 11 a.m.
972-629-2277
Apple.com

1 Conx Internet Services

2525 Wycliff Ave., Suite 124
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-855-5561
1Conx.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Defining Homes: Ask the Experts

As Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a number of other social networking sites are more and more prevalent in everyday life — professional and personal — we wondered whether the trend is effective as a marketing tool in the real estate industry as a marketing tool. Area agents put in their two cents worth on how the trend works, or doesn’t work, for them in their work.

Vice president of real estate services for Prudential, Steve Shatsky has presided over classes on the use of social networks in business. He discusses, at length, how the trend has worked for him and the strategies behind using the networks.

Now we’re just waiting for all of them to accept our friend requests.


Steve Habgood

Steve Habgood

Hewitt & Habgood Realty Group

Social networking is an important component of an overall marketing effort. It helps keep us connected with our friends, family and clients on a personal, individual level. We d

on’t use it to push all our new listings or open houses. It’s more of a pull marketing rather than push marketing effort. Brian Bleeker on our team is especially effective in using it to keep connected and informed about what’s going on in his circle of friends and clients.

Mike Grossman

Re/Max Urban

Social networking is not a tool to sell real estate in my opinion. It is an effective way to stay in “personal touch” with customers, clients, friends and acquaintances and to inform them of emerging trends, market conditions and updated information regarding real estate.

Jack Evans

Ellen Terry, a division of Ebby Halliday Real Estate

Just today, I received an invitation to join a new group: “Realtors on Facebook.” The purpose of the realtor group so far has been to let member Realtors know about new listings and buyer needs (looking for something that is not active on the market).

Bob McCranie

Texas Pride Realty

I have different fan pages for the 20 or so towns I work in. I advertise those pages and invite other people to put content on those pages. I get people who aren’t even friends to participate and solicit buyers and sellers.

Jere Becker

Jere Becker

Pinnacle Experts Group

For investment houses I am looking to sell or rent, I use it to market the property, especially now where there are so many buyers looking for seller financing and don’t use the services of a Realtor. Video is going to be the preferred medium for viewing properties and the link is easy to put into social media.

To find clients who want to sell, I use it to market my services. Also, real estate is evolving into a consulting business where my clients pay only for the services they want.

Steve Shatsky

Steve Shatsky

Prudential Texas Properties

Social networking is not a “new” tool. Agents on the cutting edge in building business and effectively marketing their clients’ properties have been using it for several years now. In fact, any agent today who does not have a social networking strategy as part of both his/her business and marketing plans is missing a critical component.

I have been successfully using Facebook to create visibility for listings and draw attention to open houses. I have also used Facebook to connect with and strengthen my relationships with clients. Real estate is a business of relationships and Facebook allows me to communicate and get to know my clients even better, while it allows them to get to know me better, as well.

My Dallasism.com blog has served multiple purposes. It has provided a search engine optimized platform to promote my listings to prospective buyers searching for homes on the Internet. It also allows me to provide monthly market reports for all the Turtle Creek highrises to prospective buyers and sellers searching for information on the Internet.

Dallasism.com has introduced new clients to me and my market expertise in the Turtle Creek area.

Lastly, I have blogged and been an ambassador for ActiveRain (an international real estate networking and blogging website) for more than three years. My blogging as a member of the ActiveRain community has allowed me to develop relationships and a nationwide network of real estate agents who refer business to me and with whom I network to share marketing and business ideas. This has been invaluable, allowing me to gain insight into new trends and innovative technologies, giving me a competitive advantage over agents whose networking is confined to only a local level.

Shatsky is vice president of real estate services, Dallas office manager for Prudential Texas Properties. He has recently taught classes on the use of blogging and Facebook in real estate at several locations across the DFW area for the MetroTex Association of Realtors. He was a panelist on the topic of real estate blogging for ActiveRain at their RainCamp-Charlotte event last fall, and will be speaking on a panel covering the topic of short sales at the Prudential Real Estate sales convention in San Diego in March.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright