Published January 20, 2015
Volume 23, Number 1
Wei Enjoys People Through Career & Photography
By Zoe Francis
DC Wei enjoys looking at the world through the viewfinder of his German-engineered Leica camera and lenses.
The real estate broker by trade treasures the time he gets to spend behind the lens, capturing scenic landscapes or everyday scenes on public streets.
“It’s a childhood hobby that has been neglected for so many years because you’re into career and family,” Wei said with a nostalgic lilt. “Now, my son is in college, and I’d like to prepare myself for retirement. It’s something that will keep me occupied.”
Wei first picked up a camera as a child growing up in his homeland of China.
“I was amazed by photos and the challenge to have good photos – the exposure, the focus,” he recalled. “Back then, of course, it was film and you had to develop the film yourself.”
Capturing the ideal photograph, he noted, “is about the technicality and the skill to be able to do that. You have to be able to judge the setting and get the right exposure and right framing and right moment.”
Wei’s two photographic passions are landscapes and street photography. He enjoys the former
“because we’re in a place where there’s a lot of natural beauty. You get to know your surroundings. You appreciate what’s so beautiful out there. You chase the light. You see the most beautiful moments of our surroundings.”
Street photography allows Wei to delve deep into the human psyche by capturing candid moments in public areas.
“I just go out on the street and take photographs of people,” he said. “It’s daily life and how people live their lives.”
It has been decades since Wei first fell in love with photography to when he reignited his passion for that art about a year ago. The ensuing years eventually led him to travel across the ocean to California to pursue a new career and opportunities in America.
Wei was born in 1961 to a father who worked in government and education and a mom who devoted herself to family.
“There are four of us – two boys and two girls,” he said. “We followed (my dad) to a lot of different jobs. We relocated a lot. His last job was as the head of a university in China.”
Wei was heavily into academics and followed the education trend at the time to major in engineering, earning an electrical engineering degree in 1984.
“Back then in China, the measure of success was that you have to be in science, engineering or technology,” he said. “The smartest students all went into engineering and science because that’s what they thought where the future is. People didn’t typically go into humanities majors.”
He followed the flow, working for the Civil Aviation Administration of China, a government agency similar to this country’s Federal Aviation Administration.
“I actually had a lot of responsibilities,” he said of his role as procurement project manager. “I was supervising purchases of airplanes and airport equipment. I used to travel to Seattle Boeing all the time and Airbus in France.”
It was during those multiple overseas trips to Boeing where Wei met many engineers who had been educated at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo – or Cal Poly, for short. He decided to make the move to America to pursue an advanced degree.
“I came here for my education,” Wei said. “I felt the need for a business education. Cal Poly is a name that was known to me. It was one of (the colleges) on my list.”
While Cal Poly is known for its engineering programs, Wei opted to pursue a master’s of business administration. He graduated in 1990, the same year he married his wife, Sherry, a stewardess and fellow Chinese national he had met on his frequent travels.
The couple settled in San Jose for several years while Wei worked in the computer industry in sales management.
“I was in that industry for about 12 years,” he explained, noting that he worked with a software security company. “The company I was with rode that dot-com wave. At the end of that dot-com wave (in 2002), the company wasn’t doing that well. I was tired of the commute to San Jose.”
The family, now with son, James, had bought their first home in Pleasanton in 1999. Wei was eager to change careers and put his MBA to work.
“I’m more into business than into engineering,” he said. “I’m more of a people person. I like to communicate with people. Being in business, I have more opportunity to work with people and make a lot of friends.”
Wei earned his real estate license and worked for Prudential and RE/MAX, quickly finding his niche and working his way to the top of the field.
“My first year in real estate, I had 12 transactions,” he said proudly. “That’s good for a new agent. For 2004, I was one of the top performing agents in the company. I was named in 2004 one of the 50 most innovative realtors in the nation by Real Estate magazine.”
While Wei enjoyed the success of working for large firms, he had long yearned to make his mark in the world as a business owner.
“It’s a dream to have your own business, be your own boss and to grow something meaningful,” he said.
Wei juggled his real estate job while earning his California broker license. He launched EI Real Estate in Hacienda in February of last year and never looked back. The firm already has three real estate agents and an office manager. As the firm’s broker, Wei oversees all transactions.
“We have more local knowledge,” he said of his firm’s edge over competitors. “When you know the local market, you know what’s out there and the trends. You know the issues with certain neighborhoods. More importantly, we know the value of properties. When you list a house, you don’t want to overprice it to miss the market. At the same time, you don’t want to sell it short.”
“It’s the same with the buyer,” he continued. “You don’t want to pay too much, but you also don’t want to miss out on an opportunity. Local knowledge is everything. We are in the market every day. We know the right prices and the momentum of the market. It changes from week to week.”
Wei is seeing a growing trend of Chinese families moving to this area. His knowledge of their culture and language has helped him serve that growing community. It is that personal touch that leads to more business.
“I work with people and make sure I understand their needs,” he said. “They realize they get the best service. They’re working with someone with experience and integrity and then they refer more people to me. That’s how I build up my business.”
Wei plans to continue to build the business for several years until he can reach a comfortable retirement age and sell the firm. In the meantime, he melds his two passions by giving each client a special framed photograph for their new home.
When retirement finally comes, “I’ll be traveling the world,” he said wistfully. “I’ll be able to do photographs in early mornings or the dark night.”
“I’d like to take more street photography,” he continued. “I like to capture people’s daily lives and the social setting. I’d like to take pictures of villages in China and urban settings. I’d like to go to places like Europe, Italy, France and China just to record images of interesting people and their lives.”
Learn more about EI Real Estate at dcwei.com. View Wei’s photography at flickr.com/photos/87679306@N05/
Also in this issue...
- Astex Makes Its Mark with Cancer Drugs
- CPA Firm Specializes in Christian Nonprofits
- Business Bits
- Wei Enjoys People Through Career & Photography
- Firm Specializes in Franchise & Business Law
- Connecting with Customers through cloudseeder
- Hacienda Development Update
- New Executive Director at Wheels Rides Into Town
- Directing a Bright New Future for the Symphony
- Sunflower Hill Supports Special Needs Adults
- January's Hacienda Index