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Looking ahead key to success, says speakers at Economic Trends Breakfast
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Rick Davidson, president/CEO of Century 21, encourages those in attendance at Wednesday's Economic Trends Breakfast to "self-disrupt" their businesses in order to be the catalyst of change in their industry rather than letting an evolving marketplace pass them by. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal

Anticipating change was the theme of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce's Economic Trends Breakfast held Wednesday at the Turlock Country Club.

The ability to plan for future success is key in both government and business, as Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth outlined in his remarks on the City's endeavors to improve local roads and water resources.

Soiseth said that the City is aware of its numerous failing roads and has already made significant efforts to improve them, with 1,900 potholes filled in 2014 compared with the 2,400 potholes filled to date in 2015.

The City is looking at a variety of funding sources for road improvements, and Soiseth said he will be watching to see if Modesto residents approve their city-wide sales tax as an indication of possible voter support for another run at a Turlock road tax. But a city-wide solution is not the only option Soiseth and the City are considering.

"I do believe in regional solutions to regional problems, and transportation is a regional issue," said Soiseth, who is Turlock's representative on the Stanislaus Council of Governments, the regional body charged with addressing regional transportation issues.

Soiseth said that the region is receiving attention in Washington D.C. for its multi-agency collaboration on forward-thinking projects to secure stable water resources like the Stanislaus Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant.

The surface water treatment plant will allow for the cities of Turlock, Ceres and South Modesto to use surface water from the Tuolumne River for domestic use, reducing their dependence on groundwater basins.

"The time of cheap, reliable water from the ground is over," said Soiseth.

The project is also key to future economic development for Turlock.

"I don't want to turn down industries wanting to come to Turlock because our infrastructure won't support them," said Soiseth.

Just as the City is taking steps to plan for the future, so must businesses make the time for strategic planning said the event's featured speaker, Century 21 President/CEO Rick Davidson.

"Change should happen before it's time," said Davidson, who used examples of how Uber disrupted the taxi business and Airbnb did the same for the hotel industry. "You need to self-disrupt your business.

"If it isn't broken, that's great, but we need to break it."

Davidson, who leads the largest residential real estate sales organization of approximately 6,900 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices in 75 countries, said he did just that in his own business by launching in 2013.

Although the vast majority of his company's business is domestic home sales, Davidson said he recognized the trend of international real estate sales and launched a website that caters to foreign buyers looking for real estate in the U.S.

The website features multiple language translations and currency exchange rate calculators.

"We're miles ahead of the competition because we thought like a disrupter," said Davidson.

His message to the government, business and community leaders gathered at Wednesday's breakfast: don't get pulled into the day to day operations; strategy is key.