Story By Hilary Brady
Photography by Suzy King
Although he comes from small town roots, Tom Shoaf’s life has been anything but simple. From sports to studies, Shoaf’s interests spanned the rainbow as he searched for a career to call his own, creating a colorful life’s journey and a very insightful individual in the end.
Born and raised in Archdale, North Carolina, Shoaf attended high school at Wingate Andrews in High Point, where he participated in soccer, volleyball, golf, swimming and tennis. When he wasn’t playing sports, he was in the classroom completing required courses as well as dabbling in vocational programs. It was here that he identified a passion for electronics and engineering. After high school, Shoaf followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the military enlisting in the U.S. Air Force.
“I wanted to see what the military was all about serving my country.” says Shoaf. “I went in as an electrician but was redirected to a morale, welfare and recreation services position when they diagnosed me as colorblind.”
Shoaf worked in this role for one year, tackling various activities such as food services and physical fitness activities, all designed to provide support and services to soldiers.
“They soon realized that I was, in fact, not colorblind,” says Shoaf. “So, they gave me an opportunity to leave the program with no penalty.”
With an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Shoaf had a clear path to continue his curiosity in engineering. Shoaf enrolled at UNC-Charlotte, a school with an excellent reputation for electrical engineering and also a campus that was currently playing host to several of Shoaf’s family members. After two years at UNC-C, Shoaf’s studies took a turn.
“I blew out my knee playing volleyball,” he says.
During physical therapy for his injury, Shoaf was introduced to what would be his next career move.
“I saw how much they did for me and how much they helped other people,” explains Shoaf. “Someone can start out an invalid due to injury or diagnosis and therapists can take them from that hurt phase to complete rehab. I saw how they rehabbed me and it was just awesome. So I said ‘Hey, I love to help people and it’s still a science-based career.’ It just fit and felt good, so that’s what I did.”
In 1998, Shoaf entered physical therapy assistant school at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina. He successfully completed two tasks while at Guilford Tech: earning an associate’s degree in science with a study in physical therapy and winning the heart of his now-wife.
Shoaf dated Stephanie, a fellow physical therapy assistant student, as he worked towards his degree. Upon graduation in June of 2000, the pair married.
The couple stayed in the High Point area where they both worked in the physical therapy field. By working as a physical therapy assistant, Shoaf ’s career curved once again.
“I took on a marketing position with the physical therapy company that I was working for,” says Shoaf. “I also picked up a new hobby … real estate.”
Shoaf became interested in the real estate field, as the process of buying and selling properties intrigued him. Soon friends and family began calling on him for advice on home purchases and sales.
“From that point on I thought, ‘I’m doing this, I love this, why not go into it as a career,’” says Shoaf. “So in 2003 I worked full time marketing the physical therapy practice while I went to classes for my real estate license and my appraisal license.”
“Oh, and we also had our first child,” he adds, as if it was all so simple to manage.
Between 2003 and 2005 a very-busy Shoaf juggled three jobs, or four if you add fatherhood into the equation.
But in 2005 it was time to simplify. Shoaf took his marketing work to part time so that he could focus on his career in real estate and appraising.
By the end of 2005 the Shoaf family took on yet another new venture. This time Shoaf ’s career remained the same, but it was their location that changed.
“My aunt and uncle lived in Oak Island and my cousin wanted to open an appraisal office there,” explains Shoaf. “It’s always been a dream of mine to live on the coast so I felt like this was a great opportunity.”
In early 2006 Shoaf helped open and co-owned helped open and co-owned new office and welcomed another baby girl to the world. But less than a year later the Shoafs felt called to make one more move. Tom and his cousin peacefully parted ways and the Shoafs moved to the Shallotte area.
“It’s where Stephanie works in physical therapy, where I did most of my business, where our oldest daughter was in pre-k and where we attended church,” explains Shoaf. “It just made sense to move.”
Shoaf then worked full time doing appraisals and real estate with various firms until he opened his own appraisal company in the area, Affiliated Appraisers.
In spring 2010 Shoaf added yet another baby to his family and another business to his portfolio. Tom Shoaf and Associates, a team under the successful brokerage business of Coldwell Banker Seacoast Realty, was formed.
“I spoke with multiple companies before choosing to work with Coldwell Banker,” says Shoaf. “I felt like their market presence, technology and agent training presented the best potential for me.”
Now a father of three children, owner of a successful appraisal company and broker-in-charge of the new Coldwell Banker office in Shallotte, Shoaf has his hands full.
But not too full to give back.
Active members of Highest Praise Worship Center, Shoaf and his family can be found doing outreach for the church on a regular basis. Distributing clothes to the needy, helping raise funds for a dog park, helping teach Sunday school to young boys and coordinating a water sports activity day for mentally and physically handicapped children and adults are just a few of the many ways Shoaf supports his community.
“One of the things that I love about my job is the flexibility that it offers,” says Shoaf. “I spend time with my family at every chance I get. Whether it’s bringing the girls to school or playing silly games on the beach, my family is my priority over work always.”
Most real estate professionals in today’s world are stressed and hurried. But Shoaf, who stops mid-sentence on multiple occasions during our interview to discuss Strawberry Shortcake with his four-year old, seems to have his priorities perfectly aligned.
“I put a whole lot of effort in making sure that my family life and business life are well-balanced,” says Shoaf. “And I do this with a focus on my faith in God, recognizing that it’s not about how much money we make but how we can help other people through God’s will.”
“I lead my life, and suggest that others do the same,” continues Shoaf, “ by trusting the promise that the will of God will never take me where the grace of God will not protect me.”