September 2008

Andy Twisdale: 37 Years of Local Knowledge

Author: Paul deVere | Photographer: Photography By anne

Islander Andy Twisdale is a transplant from Enfield, North Carolina. The big difference is that he took root on the island in 1971, 37 years ago. Now a prominent real estate agent with Charter 1 North, and community volunteer (“Volunteering,” he said, “is my hobby.”), Twisdale has become an expert on a way of life far removed from the “Peanut Capital of North Carolina” and Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts (www.auntrubyspeanuts.com.)

Enfield had a population under 3,000 when Twisdale left. “Both my parents were brought up in even smaller communities. And both my parents told me after high school, ‘Leave town. There’s nothing here for you.’ They were so correct,” Twisdale said, laughing.

In a bit of happy irony, Twisdale’s father moved to the island in 2002. “We are developing into a community where people can have their parents come and live close by. You think of all the things your parents did for you. It’s a real honor to be able to do this for my dad.” This sentiment and thoughtful observation are classic Twisdale.

In 1966, Twisdale went off to college at East Carolina, worked his way over to Myrtle Beach, then dropped down to Hilton Head Island and crossed the old swing bridge in his ’65 Chevy with everything he owned in it. He thought he would just be passing through. He didn’t know it was the bridge to his new home. And his first of two careers.

The first career was in the food and beverage industry, at which Twisdale excelled. During his many years as manager of the very popular Hudson’s seafood restaurant, Twisdale probably greeted every patron that came through the doors. It was not unusual for someone from Ohio or New York to ask him to come to their table, to show off children or grandchildren. “You remember little Becky. Well, this is her new husband …” the tourist would say. Twisdale was—and is—that kind of fellow.

It was at the restaurant, always bustling, busy and filled with family-friendly noise, that Twisdale’s second career began—sort of.

“I remember exactly,” Twisdale said with a grin. “September 21, 1986, at table 72 at Hudson’s Restaurant. This couple from Moss Creek that I knew came in with this young lady, whose name was Gail Golden. They were sitting there having oysters and asked me to come over and join them. Gail and I got married two years later.

Gail was a teacher. Twisdale was manager of one of the busiest restaurants on Hilton Head Island. If he actually wanted to see his new bride other than on Sundays, he figured a change in career was called for.

After taking time and talking to a number of people he trusted about career options, Twisdale chose real estate. “People said, ‘Andy, you’re going to do so well because you know everybody,’” Twisdale recalled. However, it was after he made his decision that he learned all those “everybodys” already knew a real estate agent. “It took three years before people disassociated me with being in the restaurant business. So I didn’t get referral one,” he added.

All that has changed and so, too, has the real estate business. Since becoming an agent in 1992, Twisdale has seen the cyclical ups and downs that come with the territory in real estate sales.

“We’re not selling houses anymore. We’re selling lifestyle. And I know the lifestyle. People are coming to Hilton Head for the natural beauty, the amenities, for the arts, theater, music, food. Lifestyle. That’s what it’s all about. We have a package here that allows the person looking for a destination resort to discover a lifestyle that is comparable to most cosmopolitan areas,” Twisdale explained.

Even in this down market, he said there are buyers out there. “Who are they? People who have been vacationing here for a long time. People who have traveled many places. They’ve decided they want to have a home in this area. They are buying because they recognize the values are down from the last several years, but also see the level of quality and confidence we have in our community.”

What the buyer also sees are services not always associated with real estate companies. Like checking to make sure the newspaper isn’t delivered if the new buyer is going to be away. Or checking to see that the landscape is being taken care of. “If there’s a storm, we’re their eyes and ears. We keep a list of people in our company that we call preferred service providers who we know would do a good job,” Twisdale said.

“When it comes to local knowledge, people, when they come here, are surprised at what the Jazz Corner has to offer. They want to know what’s playing at the theater and how to get on the mailing list of the Coastal Discovery Museum. When they start living here, they want to know about the festivals. We take them to a lot of stuff like that. One of the neatest parts about this job is that most of our social friends are past customers,” said Twisdale.

Another “neat part” is the time it gives Twisdale to spend on his “hobby.” He’s been working with the United Way for 11 years. Then there’s Second Helping, the American Cancer Society, the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, the Chamber of Commerce. Twisdale said, “I’ve seen it (the island) grow from 3,000 people. It is my community. I enjoy giving back to it, enjoy helping people. If you grew up in a small community, everybody chipped in. You helped your community. I feel very close to that.”

Though he may have left Enfield, he took those small town values with him. He also brought some small town wisdom, especially from his boss at Yogi Bear’s Fried Chicken restaurant, then part of the Hardees chain, where he worked during high school. “He taught me a very interesting lesson. Because I was there to learn to run the store, he told me to wear a shirt and tie to work every day and change into my uniform when I got there. He said you’re not going to be working behind the counter forever.”

Then there was his grandfather. “We called him ‘Big Daddy.’ He lost his general store during the Depression and became a salesman. He wore a tie every day of his life. He had this saying, ‘If you dress up, a man’s going to give you money.’ I wore a tie every day until about four years ago,” Twisdale laughed.

Because of his local knowledge, because he knows that Hilton Head Island’s “fundamentals” haven’t changed, Twisdale is confident the real estate market will turn around. He said, “Because we have such a wonderful place to live, we’re still going to have a demand. People want to be around the water, around beauty, the peace, the quietness, the nature. People love it. A community like this. It’s almost impossible to find anywhere else.”

Andy Twisdale is happy to show off his community, and welcome those who would like to join it. And if you run into him, ask him of he’s got a picture of himself in his Yogi Bear costume.

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