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Flynn family continues farming, realty into its third generation


Last updated 8/29/2019 at 12:35pm

Havre Daily News/ Ryan Berry

Janis Flynn Pyrak stands for a photo in front of an image of her family farm Wednesday at Flynn Realty in Havre.

For three generations, the Flynn family has worked hard to keep both their real estate business and their family farm going, Flynn Realty Inc. owner Janis Flynn Pyrak said.

"We're the real deal," she said. "We have always been here and we probably always will be as long as we can keep it going."

In 1953, Kenneth Flynn - Pyrak's father - started Flynn Realty, first established in the Havre Hotel located on First Street before it burned down. Pyrak said Flynn Realty was in Havre Hotel until the very end, remembering they tried to empty their offices while it was burning down. After the fire, they moved into a warehouse which was owned by Havre Distributors when Havre Distributors was near the 10 Block of First Street West.

By 1995, Flynn Realty moved into its current location, at the intersection of Second Street and Third Avenue, her family remodeling and refinishing the entire building.

Flynn specialized in commercial and farm and ranch real estate, Pyrak said, adding that Flynn Reality has always been known for its farm and ranch expertise. She said Flynn has grown over the years, expanding into residential properties as well. 

Her father eventually was able to purchase a farm, using the farm and the real estate business to support each other, she said, adding that her father built their farmland to about 15,000 acres by the time he died.

"Everything we've ever generated with the business here has been cycled back into our operation up the Hi-Line and here in Havre," she said.

She said her father, back in the day, ran one of the only real estate companies in Havre. She added that she learned from her father how to budget, keeping Flynn Reality and the family farm going.

"We're still going," she said. "... Father taught me how to do business and it's the reason that I have the business mind that I do today and am able to keep it up and running."

She has been involved with the business in some capacity almost since she was born, she said, her father putting land in her name when she was 15 years old. 

In the early 1970s, Pyrak said, she decided she wanted to go to college, selecting the University of California-Irvine. She added that her father didn't agree with her going to school in California, so she ended up putting herself through college using the yield off of the land she had acquired to fund her education. While attending UCI she studied social ecology and pre-law.

"I love law and I love contract law," she said, adding that it is the base of real estate.

While in California she met and married Mark Pyrak, one year before she graduated from college, and in 1975, after she graduated, they moved back to Havre, she said. She added that her husband went to work with her father at Flynn Realty, becoming her father's right-hand man. She and her husband later divorced, in 1997. After the divorce she had to work to support her family, support Flynn Realty and the family farm, so she became involved in real estate.

She said that in 1998, her father had to quit working due to health issues, and she purchased Flynn Reality from him. He died later that year. She added that it was the same year she obtained her realtor's license and, in 2000, she obtained her broker's license.

"That's how I came to the business," she said.

She added that her son, Nicholas, has also become involved with the business. She said he is a licensed realtor for Flynn Reality, although he focuses more on their family farm. Between the two of them, she has 5,000 acres and her son has 4,500 acres.

She said she always had to work because she always had to work to keep the farm going and still does today. With the agricultural market what it is, money is tight, and it is increasingly more difficult to generate as much business with real estate to keep the farm going.

"It's really hard to keep things going with the way money is right now," she said. "... It's tough, if I didn't have the money that's generated through our business here in Havre, sometimes I don't know how I could keep things going."

Pyrak added that is why she hasn't retired yet, because she is still working to keep the family farm and business going. She said, like many other farmers, this past growing season has been hard because agriculture has not been profitable.

This year, Hill County moisture for winter wheat was down although moisture for spring wheat was up, she said, but they did not seed too many acres of spring wheats. She added that because of the recent weather, with all the different storms across the county, many producers are not able to harvest their crop. With every rain this late in the harvest, it depletes the protein in the wheat as well as increase the chance for the heads to sprout.

"We're lucky we got all of our crops in the bins," she said, adding that her family started early this year in seeding and harvesting and were able to finish their harvest in the past week.

But because of the drought and the sudden moisture, she said, they still have to file a claim with the insurance.

"That's just the year," she said. "Every year it's something different."

She added that even crop insurance is becoming astronomically more expensive, and many producers can't afford to stay in operation unless they collect from the insurance. 

"We love farming," she said, adding that her son often tells her everything will be fine and they need to hang on.

Pyrak added that her son wouldn't want it any other way.

Pyrak's mother, Audrey, also still helps on the family farm, doing all the maintenance for the farm even at the age of 89. 

Something else which has impacted their family business has been the introduction of online realtors and the change in business because of the use of the internet, she said. She added that Flynn Realty was established before the use of the internet and previously relied on the business's reputation and hard work to secure business.

"The internet has really hurt our business, and it's because other people have been able to latch onto the real estate base that use to support all of this and pull away from it," she said. 

She added that it has made it twice as hard to keep the door open because of online and sale-by-owner businesses have leached off of the market.

Their business has to be twice as aggressive on social media if they want to be able to compete, she said.

"We're old-school and it's hurting us," she said.

An issue, though, is many of these online real estate businesses and sale-by-owner have is many people don't fully understand the paperwork and the contracts which go into real estate, she said. And when a problem does occur in the paperwork, they are usually referred to her business. She added that much of their job at Flynn Realty has evolved into solving these problems. At Flynn Realty they have people who are well-versed in the legal documents and are able to find solutions and people who don't understand those things could possibly end up in a lawsuit.

Havre Daily News/ Ryan Berry

An image of Kenneth Flynn at the family farm hangs in his old office at Flynn Realty in Havre.

"I would be happy to retire, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon," she said.

Pyrak said that if she did retire she could see her son taking over the business.

"Nicholas would be excellent in my position here at Flynn Reality," she said. "Right now though, his concentration is on the farm."

She said she is very proud of her son and her daughter, Dr. Crystal Pyrak, who specializes in family medicine in Idaho. She added that she is also excited for her daughter to have her second child soon.

She said that Flynn Realty would also not be where it is without it's employees.

"It always comes back to the people that work for you, that you can depend on no matter what," she said. "... We are blessed with the people in Havre."


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