A career change might be more common when an individual first
enters the working world, but Joe R. Coker has proved that it can
be done after spending almost 40 years in the automobile industry
and then making a switch to real estate.
Coker joined Jerry Hocker and Associates Inc. at 4323 N.
Classen Blvd. in January, sold a Resolution Trust Corp. property
and currently has four contracts for commercial properties that
he anticipates will close promptly.
"I just turned 65 this year, and people keep asking me why at
this age would I do this. But I wouldn't be happy not being out
in the community and meeting people and seeing people because I
just love them," Coker said.
"It takes about six months to really get a feel for it. You
build up contacts so you can get referrals. It's all on
commission _ no salaries. I have noticed there are a lot of
people in and out quickly," he said.
"One man that I admire is Bob Sullivan. He has been with the
firm now for 18 months, but he went through his six months and he
has built up the referrals. I call him my role model because he
has really persevered," Coker said.
In April 1992, Coker reached an agreement with David Hudiburg
to sell his dealership, Joe Coker Pontiac-GMC Trucks, on Int.
Hwy. 40 near N. Sooner Rd. in Midwest City. Hudiburg began
operating the Pontiac dealership May 15, 1992, under a management
agreement, and the buyout was officially complete in September,
In April 1992, Coker began courses to get his real estate
license. By October, he had completed 240 credit hours, earned
his real estate license and is now an Oklahoma licensed real
estate appraiser and a certified environmental appraiser.
A neighbor gave Coker some contacts in commercial real estate
firms, and the first one was Jerry Hocker. Hocker's firm
specializes in commercial and industrial real estate services.
"It's not a typical employer-employee relationship. He is a
great teacher," Coker said. The firm has five associates and a
receptionist who recently completed her real estate licensing
When Coker was five years old, his father joined Fred Jones
Ford. Coker received two degrees in finance from the University
of Oklahoma after his service in the Navy during World War II. He
later earned a master's degree in business from Harvard Business
Coker had been with Phillips Petroleum Co. in Bartlesville for
three years when his father called in 1954 and told Coker he was
needed at the dealership, Chick Coker Pontiac in Oklahoma City.
Coker totally bought his father out within a few years.
His father's dealership was originally on N. Broadway Ave.
downtown but was moved to NW 4th St. and Shartel Ave. in 1936. In
the 1960s, Joe Coker was interested in moving the store
northwest, but Dockum Pontiac established a store there. Coker
then moved his store southeast to Midwest City in 1974.
"I had been around retail all my life. I told my children that
if they wanted to come into the business, please don't come to me
later in life. I stayed on because of that, but I don't have any
regrets. I like retail, and I worked with great people."
Coker grew up in Norman, and he and his wife Merion live there
now. They have three sons, one daughter and 12 grandchildren, six
of which live in Norman.
"I wondered before if I should get in commercial real estate.
I would have done it earlier, but I waited for a son who was in
the business, and (then) he decided not to go on with it, so I
"After 38 years of retail I was tied down. It really is a nice
"We are very fortunate in Oklahoma City with the quality of
the dealers that are here. Strong association relationships help.
The really nice thing is the people I don't know. They recognize
the name and they ask me why I'm in real estate, so it's kind of
an icebreaker. …