If you’ve noticed the conspicuous absence of updates here let me assure you that the reasons are all good. I am fine, the company is fine, and we have been busy. I have lots of good news to report.
First, after our best year in 2013, I wrote a year ago that I could foresee us growing from one office and just over 40 agents to 4 branch offices and 100 agents. We came close. The firm has indeed expanded to 4 offices, and we are approaching close to 70 fantastic professionals who have chosen to associate with our brand.
In October, we had the grand opening for our Pelham, NY office, followed by the November ribbon cutting for the Mahopac center, which houses both J. Philip Commercial Group and our residential division. Jenn Maher not only manages the residential division there, but is my managing partner (broker in charge) of J. Philip Commercial Group, and she is building something very, very special there. I can’t say enough good things about her- she got plenty of recognition herself, including Hudson Valley Magazine’s Top Women in Business Award. In December we welcomed Buffalo, NY to the family with the amazing Colleen Kulikowski joining as the trailblazer to that new market.
The firm broke all prior production records with almost $34 million in closed sales and well over 100 closings. The most agents we ever had in production was 17 in 2013; in 2014 we had 28, with 7 associates closing $1 million or more and another coming within an eyelash. Out of nearly 1000 firms in our market, our firm was ranked 50th in closed residential transactions according to HGMLS data.
At our December holiday banquet at Finalmente in Sleepy Hollow, I was proud to recognize the following company associates for achievements and distinctions:
Top Innovator: Tom Ricapito
Top Recruiter: Janie Blanks
Top Contributor to Firm Expansion: Donna Materasso
Top Blogger: Barbara Bartell
Top Producer: Cristina Gameiro not only had the highest number of transactions, she closed the highest dollar volume.
Comeback of the Year: Lorei Velazco. A multi million dollar producer with her prior firm in 2012, Lorei joined us earlier this year after spending the bulk of 2013 recovering from illness.
An agent with the best improvement. This year’s comeback s special, overcoming a year out for medical reasons, never losing a winning, determined attitude, and ferocity, commitment, and a willingness to invest in her business. She could very well be the top producer in 2015.
Rookie of the Year: Peaches Herron Drummond. Peaches came within an eyelash of $1 million in closings since February, and is actually poised to close over 10 transactions in the first quarter of 2015 alone.
As I stated at the banquet: Peaches joined our firm early in 2014, and was exemplary in her learning like a sponge as well as a willingness to invest in her marketing. She was a tiger in her follow up with inquiries, and was smart to ask me for help when needed. It all added up to a December with 10 transactions in contract and another 7 accepted offers pending from her prolific efforts. Another big contender for top producer in 2015
Leadership Award: Gloria Hernandez.
A leader walks the talk, coaches and is coachable. They don’t preach. They lead by example. As the adage says, They often speak softly, but carrying a big stick. This year’s leader was selfless in her willingness to help other agents, would follow up on project from me at the drop of a hat, and had the upbeat, selfless attitude of a leader that I personally admire.
Person of the Year: Mary Kingsley
The person of the year embodies the company ethos of teamwork, collaboration, hard work, ethics, humor, and eagerness to learn. This year’s person of the year was someone I could count on the step in for me when needed, often with little or no notice, was vocal in her opinions to support me personally and professionally, fed me, literally, along with solid sales production in the wake of a tough 2013. She volunteered for more work just to forward the enterprise, and was an absolute evangelist for our brand. She is of my very dear friends as well.
Every one of the awardees is someone I would trust implicitly to take care of me as a client. I couldn’t be more proud.
On a personal note, I completed my term as Hudson Gateway MLS President for 2014, I served as Tech Chair for the NY State Association of Realtors, I served on Zillow.com’s Agent Advisory Board for a 3rd year, and I actually did get some writing done as a contributor to Inman News. The Women’s Council of Realtors gave me the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which was a very flattering surprise. I lost 45 pounds through better eating habits and exercise, and I enter 2015 feeling better than I did 20 years ago.
It is gratifying that all the growth and expansion did not come at the expense of the client experience- our feedback and online ratings remain stellar, referrals are at an all-time high, and the buzz about the company is undeniable. Much of that is owed to super support staff helping me keep my eye on the ball, with head admin Ronnie DeMeo and “Q Branch” technology chief Angela Johnson. With Nancy Green being added to the team in Mahopac, we are positioned well.
Looking forward, I see 2015 as year to solidify all the expansion we have undertaken, to give our agents the best tools possible to serve their clients, to advance training dramatically, and to eclipse 100 associates, 200 sales, and make a hell of a run at $100 million in closed transactions.
But beyond the numbers, one thing will remain constant: the quality of character that our associates display, day in and day out, will remain at the top of the heap.