Whether it was in a classroom, at the roller rink or in real estate, Keith Beatty '73 has built his reputation and career on working with and helping people.
Beatty took lessons from his journey and at East Carolina UniversityŽ, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in education, and turned them into a flourishing career. Beatty has been a resident of Wilmington since the 1980s when he began a career as a business owner before joining Intracoastal Realty in 1993. He has been Intracoastal Realty's top agent for homes sold for 20 consecutive years.
Beatty came to ECU from Charlotte as a preferred walk-on for what was then ECU's freshman football team. His appreciation for the role ECU played in his life and his support for his alma mater have grown over the years.
"I had a wonderful, wonderful experience at ECU, academically and growing up. I met many lifelong friends, many people who became my mentors," Beatty said. "I was a school teacher who became a businessman. And they had a big influence on that."
Like many Pirates, Beatty gravitated to supporting ECU Athletics by joining the Pirate Club soon after he graduated. He's proud to have been a Pirate Club member for 45 years and is a member of the local Pirate Club chapter in Wilmington.
Beatty said his support for academic efforts came over time. He was contacted by Melissa Adamson, a University Advancement gift officer, and with her help in 2017, he set up a scholarship in the College of Health and Human Performance, which he funded for five years. In 2022, he established the Keith M. Beatty Access Scholarship. This past year he created a trust which will endow the scholarship and provide a gift that will support the Pirate Club after his death.
"Over time, I realized that one of the most important things that ever happened to me was coming here (to ECU)," Beatty said. "It was a process over a number of years to give back. You begin to realize how important it is for kids to have opportunities to attend college and you can help change someone else's life."
Beatty's Access Scholarship gives first priority to students from his alma mater, West Mecklenburg High School. He's expanded the guidelines now to offer the scholarship to students from New Hanover County as a second priority. Beatty said frequently hearing from people in Wilmington about how great ECU is has also had an impact on him.
"I have somewhat of a name recognition in Wilmington," he said. "All the time, people come up to me and say, 'Keith, I was at parent orientation (at ECU) and I had no idea what a place that is.' That makes you proud to have come to ECU."
Attending ECU brought confidence and connection for Beatty.
Beatty said his advisor Dr. Jimmy Grimsley was a principal influence during his undergraduate years. He provided life guidance in addition to providing classroom knowledge. "I could go to him for anything," Beatty said. "He was a good mentor for me at
Beatty lived on campus for two years. He joined the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and made many close friends during his time at ECU. College life in general was fun, Beatty said.
"Pirates help each other," Beatty said. "The bond is a little stronger with Pirates because we loved our time at ECU and we all have a common bond because of our time there."
After graduating, Beatty taught for one year at Southwest Edgecombe High School in Pinetops. His father became ill and Beatty moved home to Charlotte to support him and help his mother run the family business.
In 1975, the Rawl family of Greenville hired Beatty to manage their new skating rink business and he returned to Greenville to work with his ECU friend and mentor Julian "Bubba" Rawl as the manager of Sportsworld.
Beatty went on to become director of operations for the business. The Rawl family built additional rinks, including one in Wilmington. Beatty bought the Wilmington skating rink and Jungle Rapid Amusements and began to establish himself in the Wilmington business community. Beatty said many people still remember him from those early years at Sportsworld and share their favorite skating rink stories with him.
"We had a real good thing going. Sportsworld was very popular," Beatty said. "We were all in our early 20s, it was a good time and I learned a lot about working with people."
He knew managing and owning an amusement business was not something he would do forever, and he transitioned into working in real estate, first at Bald Head Island and then as an agent with Intracoastal Realty.
Beatty's real estate business and Wilmington began to boom. He worked as a solo agent and honed his passion for helping clients buy and sell homes as I-40 was opening.
"Prior to that Wilmington was a very sleepy town and it took off," Beatty said. "I was lucky enough to have been part of that. My timing was perfect."
The first house he listed was a single-wide mobile home on a sandy lot near Carolina Beach. The home sold for $28,000. Since then, he and his team have helped more than 8,000 individuals and families buy or sell a house. Beatty said they have stayed true to their motto "big and small, we sell them all" through more than 30 years in the real estate business. "From small to multi-million dollar homes, we help everyone," he said.
Beatty formed the first real estate team east of I-95, starting with two people and grew it to 26 agents and staff. The team works within Intercoastal Realty and has grown from $6-$8 million in annual sales to more than $150 million.
His team is a point of pride in Beatty's career. Seeing the agents grow and their client base being served is rewarding, he said.
While he may not have returned to classroom as a teacher, he has found mentoring agents and teaching others about real estate to be a rewarding part of his work.
Beatty said he learned lessons from ECU friends, Rawl and Bobby Rippy, which have influenced his career.
"I learned about working with people, especially from working with Bubba. That helps in real estate," Beatty said. "I've learned to work with good people and to hire the right people to work with. The right people can make the work easier."
Beatty also has a niche within his work advising builders on developing neighborhoods. One third of his team's business is new home sales and marketing of the developments.
Working with people has brought accolades over the years. Beatty was named the 2020 Sales Person of The Year by Cape Fear Realtors Association and he received the Marketer of the Year Max Award from the Cape Fear New Homes Sales and Marketing Council. He has been ranked by the Wall Street Journal as high as 27th in the United States and second in North Carolina for total closed transactions. His team has sold over $2 billion in residential real estate.
Away from real estate and supporting Pirate Athletics, Beatty is an avid fisherman and spends time fishing and enjoying the Bahamas. He is a Pirate, after all.
"There's just something about being out there on the ocean," he said.
He has a good fishing story to tell about many fishing experiences, but bringing in a 350-pound Bluefin Tuna may top the list.
Additionally, Beatty is an avid reader with an interest in American military history. Among his favorite reads was fellow ECU alumni Rick Atkinson's prize-winning Liberation Trilogy, a history of the American role in the liberation of Europe in World War II.