Billy Cotter was shipped off to Vietnam soon after starting college at Auburn University. After serving two years on hostile, foreign soil, he returned to finish his degree at AU in 1970. That’s when things really got tough.
Cotter began working in the men’s clothing business, something he did until 1974.
“Vietnam was easier than the clothing business,” Cotter joked last week as his company, Century 21 Regency Realty Inc., began celebration of its 45th anniversary, all in Enterprise. The month-long celebration will include a customer appreciation month for all of August. It began Aug. 2 with popcorn and drinks in the business lobby at 531 Boll Weevil Circle. There will be a special event each week: Aug. 7 with donuts (Downtown Donuts) and coffee in lobby; Aug. 15 with Rosalie’s Boutique and giveaways; Aug. 21 with muffins and coffee in the lobby; Aug. 29 with a celebration of the business from 5-7 p.m., ending with a champagne toast; and Aug. 30 there will be free snow cones in the parking lot. Ernie’s Food Truck from Dothan will also be on hand.
“We’re calling it ‘Thanks for being a key to our success,’” Heather Jones, the company’s marketing director, said.
Cotter’s older brothers, Marvin and Ross, were encouraging Billy to get into real estate while he was in the clothing business.
In 1974, Cotter opened Regency Realty on Rucker Boulevard. Cotter remembers that he was by himself in the early years and he had one of those round clocks that he would put on the door saying when he would return if he had to leave for something.
In 1981, it became Century 21 Regency Realty. After moving to an adjacent property, the business finally settled on its current location on Jan. 15, 1997.
“I built my first house in ‘77,” Cotter said while reminiscing last week. Since then, he has partnered with others on subdivisions such as Tartan Pines, Summer Brook, Valley Streams, Huntington Ridge, Woodland Park, Birchwood, and others. Among his commercial properties that he built include Lewis-Smith and Verizon.
Dozens, perhaps hundreds of commercial properties later, the company manages about 850 single-family units, as well as mini storage facilities, commercial properties and multi-family units.
Regency Management has 901 apartment units as well as 23 homeowners’ associations as far away as Montgomery, Prattville, Opelika and Dothan. “We got into HOA about five years ago,” Cotter said. “There aren’t many companies that want to fool with it.”
One of Cotter‘s proudest accomplishments was building the Warrior Cabin at Fort Rucker, finished in June 2018.
“We’re always looking to grow,” Cotter said. “It’s not like I’m quitting anytime soon. The one thing that’s been so good about the business is we have had so many good people come through here. I am very proud of our retention.”
Cotter is also a certified general appraiser, starting that business in 1976. He has been on the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board for the last five years and is currently serving as it vice chairman.
Cotter credited several people for making the business the success it is, most notably the support of his wife, Marie. He credited business partner Kathleen Ferrell for making Regency Multifamily Services successful, likewise for Tamra Bowdoin, Construction Coordinator for BCC (Billy Cotter Construction), appraiser Steve Metcalf at Billy Cotter Appraisals, and his daughter, Erin Tullos, for running the brokerage (Century 21) and property management (Regency Management) companies as their general manager for the past decade.
Cotter’s family also includes daughter Ivy Warren, her husband, Harrison, and granddaughter, Anna; son, Adam Cotter, his wife, Katie Cotter, and their children, Hagan, Luke and Kate, and daughter, Erin Tullos, her husband, Jonathan, and their son, Rush.