Charles Tingey sold mountain property in Shaver Lake before starting a commercial real estate company in Fresno that became the training grounds for young brokers and grew into one of the leading firms in Central California.
Charles Tingey Associates, now known as Colliers International, was responsible for leasing the new office space around Fresno Yosemite International Airport when development crept that way.
And Mr. Tingey, with associate Bobby Fena, worked on one of the biggest deals in the 1990s — moving retail giant Gottschalks from downtown Fresno to the River Park Corporate Center in north Fresno.
Aside from his success in real estate, Mr. Tingey was known for his love of life, people and his family.
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Mr. Tingey, who had Parkinson’s disease for 14 years, died on Sunday evening after months of declining health. He was 74.
“He was proud of the people he got to interact with — family, partners, friends,” said his stepson Eric Jans. “His greatest joy was seeing other people he was related to or associated with succeed.”
Mr. Tingey was a Fresno native who spent his life in the area, leaving only for four years to study economics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. There he met his first wife, Nancy, and had two children, Tanner and Tracy Loper.
When Mr. Tingey got his real estate license, he made daily commutes from Fresno to Shaver Lake to sell residential property. It wasn’t long before he decided commercial real estate was his specialty.
He started Charles Tingey Associates in 1968. His first employee was friend John Brelsford who eventually became a partner and helped him grow the business.
“He was a friend to everybody,” said Brelsford, who left the firm in 1979 and started Diversified Development Group. “He had the unique sales ability to make friends with everybody and make them feel comfortable.”
Mr. Tingey worked with clients to reach mutual goals and never stopped servicing them even after transactions closed, said Fresno developer DeWayne Zinkin, whose company has worked with the brokerage firm.
And he was always thinking about his associates, even offering them an opportunity to become partners in the company. There are now about 17 partners.
In 1996, the firm became affiliated with Colliers International, a global real estate organization, and changed its name to Colliers Tingey International. Today, the company is known as Colliers International and has nearly 40 employees between three offices in Fresno, Bakersfield and Pismo Beach.
Fena, the associate who worked on the Gottschalks deal, considered Mr. Tingey a brother who provided great business lessons.
“You’re not always going to win, but you learn to never burn a bridge with a client,” said Fena, senior vice president and principal at Colliers. “If you maintained your honesty, integrity and your professionalism, you’re going to win the business in the end.”
Mike McGowan, president and chief executive officer of Premier Valley Bank, considers Mr. Tingey the pioneer of real estate brokerage in Fresno. The two met when McGowan moved to Fresno in 1990 to lead the Bank of Fresno. Mr. Tingey sat on the board of directors.
“He always had a smile on his face,” McGowan said. “He always had a positive attitude.”
When not at the office, Mr. Tingey enjoyed being outdoors running, playing tennis, skiing, and hiking. He also loved a good game of dominoes or cards at home while his grandchildren splashed in the pool, Jans said, and he loved his wife, Cyndi, who he married in 1999.
“Charles did love real estate, but what he loved more than that was people,” Jans said. “It really was less about the project and more about the people involved, that was what got him excited.”