By Ann Marie Shambaugh
Robert Cowan is one of the top realtors at FC Tucker. He’s sold more than 1,500 homes in 22 years and is the most recent recipient of the company’s highest honor, the Fred Tucker Sr. Award.
But his road to success followed an unlikely route. His real estate career in Carmel was launched by his past experience as the national men’s program director for USA Gymnastics, a role that took him around the world to coach and promote the sport.
“I was in charge, from the Olympic level all the way down to the age-group kids, even down to preschool, of program development. It was my job to grow the sport, grow the participation and the membership,” said Cowan, who lives near the Westfield/Carmel border. “I spent weeks and weeks and weeks of my life out in the field going to other places to conduct workshops and symposiums.”
Eventually, it was the travel and time commitment that led him to step down in 1993. His son was a rising soccer star, and he spent five weeks overseas for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, missing half of his son’s season. He began to think about a career change.
“I loved what I was doing, but I loved my family more,” Cowan said. “It was a hard decision.”
After stepping away from gymnastics, Cowan wasn’t sure what to do next. At first he scoffed when a friend suggested he go into sales. Hw said he “wasn’t a fan of sales people.” But then he realized he might have what it takes to succeed.
“Coaching is sales,” Cowan said. “You’ve got to convince kids to believe in themselves and trust in you.”
Now, Cowan considers his position at FC Tucker the best job he’s ever had because he enjoys getting to know and help local families. He’s been invited to clients’ weddings, even giving away a bride whose father had died.
Cowan is thankful for the support of his company, but his appreciation went to a new level in 2012 when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He went through chemotherapy, radiation, a stem-cell transplant and an experimental drug before being declared cancer-free two years later – the exact same day his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.
During that time, he said coworkers listed and sold houses for him, “not taking a penny of that.”
“Through all of that, my company has been a rock behind me,” Cowan said.