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Chicagoland’s Best Offices 2008

by Chicago Agent

For our Best Offices issue, Chicago Agent found the most happening places to work in the Chicagoland area. These real estate offices in both the city and the suburbs have discovered how to be fun and exciting, while still demonstrating professionalism and finding success. Under the guidance of a managing broker who sets the tone for the entire office, these are the places where agents can’t wait to get to work in the morning, and have found success in any kind of market.

In the real estate industry, each agent has the opportunity to be an independent individual, but can always rely on the managing broker for guidance and instruction. The head of any business has a tough job, but it’s always easier at a productive and enjoyable office with a fantastic staff.

In our cover story, you’ll see profiles and pictures from a variety of completely different offices with their own flare and way of doing business. You’ll hear in the managing broker’s own words what goes on in his/her office, and why their office is the place to be. These pages can help you as a managing broker yourself, or as an agent, find out what makes these electrifying offices tick, and formulate methods to see your office appear in next year’s issue.

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ALEKSANDRA DE LEON

Managing Broker
Executive Realty Group – Bloomingdale
ExecRealtyHomes.com
and ERGBestChoice.com

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 3
Number of full-time agents: 45
Describe the office space: A mix of private offices and open Realtor cubicles, conference room and reception area. Our office feels like home with two beautiful fireplaces and a warm color scheme.
Tech provided: Wi-Fi, personal agent Web site and informational ERG only Web site

THE EXTRAS
Management support: 24/7 broker support plus agent forum, office meetings and Realtor nights out

THE BACKSTORY

Where did you grow up: I came to the U.S. from Poland at the age of four. I lived in the city of Chicago and northern suburbs before settling in DuPage County.
Where did you learn the real estate business: My father was a real estate investor, so I was familiar with the business and grew into it easily. Post college, I decided real estate sales was my true calling. My partner at ERG, Patricia Coleman, mentored me. We decided to open ERG together, a little over three years ago.
Why real estate: To see the excitement in my clients as they purchase a home and watch our agents succeed in this tough market

What makes you different than any other managing broker: My attitude of involving all of our agents in our business makes me different. We have a family atmosphere and include all of our agents Ñ whether new or experienced, in office or those who work at home Ñ with constant communication, meetings, speakers and Realtor nights out.

“In my first deal with Executive Realty Group, I more than covered any extra expenses I would have for an entire year, and still put thousands more in my pocket than I would have earned at my previous firm. I signed on because of the commission payout, so I was delighted to discover that it is also a fabulous, supportive office. The other agents, the secretaries and both Aleksandra and Patricia are very helpful. It is truly a pleasant and positive working atmosphere.”
-Lexie Lyons – ERG agent for one and one-half years

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GEORGE SCHULTZ

Managing Broker
@Properties
Bucktown
atproperties.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Know your limits and push them a little more every day.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 1
Number of full-time agents: 70
Describe the office space: Intimate, personal, professional and accessible
Tech provided: Multiple floor computers for people who are stopping in quickly. Support in all areas, whether it is IT, design, MLS maintenance or marketing help. We have someone always entering our listings in various Web sites that have become popular search engines for prospects.
Desk setup: We have on site desks on our first and second floors with hopes of expanding upward in the future.
Conference rooms: One conference room complete with flat screen and computer for presentations to large groups

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: An office manager is here during the week and we always have at least two support staff during the day. Our designers are always accessible.
MLS assistance: Yes. We love to take this off our agents so that we can make sure they are out there utilizing the tools we have to keep building their business.
Management support: Not only do we have brokers, but we have performance coaches as well. We work together so that there is always someone to answer questions, offer advice, set goals, work on a business plan or simply be there to talk.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Louisville, Ky.
Why real estate: I was a working actor and I wanted to be able to get a larger reward for my efforts. Therefore, I chose a business that provides wonderful rewards for consistent hard work.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I am always here to listen to what my agents need, recognize the issues they face and develop a strategy to meet all challenges. I care about every one of them and their success.
Who do you admire: Mike Golden and Thad Wong. I am constantly inspired to work as diligently as they do, which may be an impossible task.

“George cares about the success of the agents and really listens to all sides of an issue in order to make good decisions and move forward in the best way possible together.”
-Joe Zimmerman – @properties agent for seven years

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JEANINE MCSHEA

Managing Broker & Vice President of Sales
@properties – Lincoln Park
atproperties.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Experiencing @properties through the agents’ eyes.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 9
Number of full-time agents: 300 at the Lincoln Park location, and I am in charge of the Lakeview office with an additional 80 agents
Tech provided: Our IT department is vast with eight full-time personnel working with the agents to make sure they are wireless at all of our offices with their laptops and PDAs, as well as the network printers throughout the office.
Desk setup: Shared and accessible open areas for agents to utilize with phones, marketing materials and supplies throughout the offices
Conference rooms: Two formal conference rooms plus two other areas for agents to meet with clients

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: We have three full-time administrative workers in our reception area plus an office manager. Administrative staff is available seven days a week.
MLS assistance: Our front desk personnel handle all MLS input and updating plus all open house information.
Management support: Our management brokerage team is available to all agents, regardless of the office they are from, and our agents also have full-time access to the owners of @properties.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: All over the Midwest – born in Tulsa, Okla., and I lived in Kansas City and Elgin. I have lived in Chicago since 1980.
Where did you learn the real estate business: I learned real estate from my first managing broker, who owned a small office in the DePaul neighborhood. I then moved to Jameson Realty, Coldwell Banker and Sudler. But, I have learned the most from the agents and owners of my current company, @properties, and I keep learning every day!
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I make myself available 24/7 because that is when the agents are selling real estate. I keep my BlackBerry with me at all times, sometimes to the dismay of my family.

“If you want to work for a company that is changing with the times, that has great agents and great lead generating programs, this is the company for you.”
-Rita Kerins – @properties agent for five years

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PAMELA TILTON

Vice President & Managing Broker
@properties
Gold Coast/Streeterville
atproperties.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Do everything you enjoy and spend time with people you love – life is too short Ð and don’t sweat the small stuff.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 3
Number of full-time agents: 200
Describe the office space: Our office space is professional, nicely designed and agent friendly.
Tech provided: Recently, we came out with a text service that can immediately send property photos to the phone of a potential client standing in front of a home. This is one of many innovative ideas that keep our agents on top of the technology side.
Desk setup: We have a combination where agents work from home and some that are in every day. The environment is professional, yet casual, and conducive to offering the agents everything they may need.
Conference rooms: Two conference rooms and a training center. One of our conference rooms is designed for large presentations and has a 50-inch flat screen TV.

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Seven days a week
MLS assistance: We have a full-time staff to input and assist with MLS (MRED).
Management support: I am available Ñ as are the two owners, Mike Golden and Thad Wong, and the other managing brokers from their respective offices – to address any issues that the agents may have. We all work together as a team.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: River Forest
What makes you different than any other managing broker: Listening to what the agents are really saying and helping them work out the many different situations that come up in real estate
Who do you admire: My parents – I look up to both of them. They are two of the most caring people in the world, and they’ve seen me through a lot! Two other people are Mike and Thad I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with both of them.

“The atmosphere at @ is like nothing I have experienced. Pamela Tilton is smart and always ready to share her wisdom. I don’t know how she does it but she always has time for each of the 200-plus Streeterville agents.”
-Richard Quigley – @properties agent for three years

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GLEN TOMLINSON

Partner/General Manager
Century 21 Sussex & Reilly – Lincoln Park
smarterapproaches.com and sudlersothebysrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Business comes where it’s invited and stays where it’s well treated.

Century 21 Sussex & Reilly is the best kept secret in Chicagoland real estate. We are actually growing, adding locations and services for agents and their clients in the face of a contracting industry. The new Lincoln Park office is a revolutionary concept with wireless open space work areas, state-of-the-art Herman Miller workstations and it’s on the way to becoming the first LEED-certified real estate office in Chicago. Century 21 Sussex & Reilly is taking the advice of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, we are “skating to where the puck is going to be … not to where it has been.”

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 23
Number of full-time agents: 25; we will grow to 75 in 2009
Describe the office space: This newly renovated office has 4,800 square feet of space on a great retail street. Commercial LEED certified candidate office with bamboo floor, low V paint, high-efficiency everything and recycling plan. There is a 42-inch video display monitor in the front window for listing inventory. Open floor plan on the first floor, a kick-ass sound system and a cozy fireplace.
Tech provided: Sussex & Reilly and Century 21 Intranet, LeadRouter, Smarter Agent, wireless offices and Smartphone for each agent with integrated calendar and MLS access. We also have color printers and scanner/fax; SR Prospect direct Web-based client management tools; Web site builder; agent-branded e-flyer formats for Just Listed, Just Sold, Open House and newsletter communications; Web-based Agent Financial Tools; Century 21 PR Studio; in-house photographer and free virtual tours.
Desk setup: Private office space, Herman Miller “Resolve” workstations and wireless virtual agent docking stations

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: M-F 9-6, and weekends 9-5
MLS assistance: Agents do no MLS inputting.
Management support: Not only real estate advice, but life coaching as well. We have a personal business coach on staff as well as training for new and experienced agents. We have an in-house marketing department with award-winning graphic designers complete with print shop. A full-time in-house real estate attorney is available to assist agents.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Lyons, Ill., where I used to be the mayor
Where did you learn the real estate business: PAV Realtors in Berwyn in 1982, and I’m still learning!
Why real estate: I got divorced and needed flex time for my kids.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: My wealth of experience, sense of humor and the fact that I am accessible 24/7 to all of my agents and staff. I have been around the block and then some in the real estate industry. I have the GRI, CIPS and TRC designations. I am a CCIM candidate and also working on my e-Pro designation.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: The usual Ñ I’m working on networking on a global level.
Who do you admire: My mom (Vera Tomlinson), Warren Buffett, T Boone Pickens, Barack Obama, Carlton Fisk and Deepak Chopra

“Our new Sussex & Reilly office is a great place to work! Not only is it located in one of Chicago’s hottest areas on Armitage, but our Earth- friendly approach to making the new office green makes it a comfortable place to do business.”
-Joe Metzger – Century 21 agent for two years

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LAURIE MURPHY

Managing Broker
Century 21 Sussex & Reilly – Wheaton
smarterapproaches.com and sudlersothebysrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
You get out of life what you put into it, so live a passionate life.

Century 21 Sussex & Reilly’s Wheaton office has built itself on teamwork. Our motto is quality not quantity. We may be small in numbers but we are big in success. We pride ourselves in the ability to retain our agents with our teamwork mindset. We have an open minded and progressive atmosphere which allows our entire team of agents, managers and staff to work together toward the common goal of growing our businesses. As an office we are excited and have been challenged by the current market. It has stretched our knowledge and skills in the industry and has made us better professionals because of it. We are excited about working in this industry in 2009. Bring it on!

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 5
Number of full-time agents: 12
Describe the office space: Located in a high-traffic area of Wheaton, our 3,500-square-foot open floor plan has a modern loft-style atmosphere. There is a huge training room, some private office space, private conference room, cubicles and workstations.
Tech provided: Sussex & Reilly and Century 21 Intranet, LeadRouter, Smarter Agent, wireless offices and Smartphone for each agent with integrated calendar and MLS access. We also have color printers and scanner/fax; SR Prospect direct Web-based client management tools; Web site builder; agent-branded e-flyer formats for Just Listed, Just Sold, Open House and newsletter communications; Web-based Agent Financial Tools; Century 21 PR Studio; in-house photographer and free virtual tours.
Desk setup: Agents can hook up to the network remotely or come into the office. In the first quarter of 2009 our office will be Wi-Fi compatable.
Parking: There is a parking lot adjacent to our office.

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: M-F 9-5:30 and weekends 9-5
MLS assistance: Our staff does all MLS inputting and uploads all Web site information for our agents.
Management support: Not only real estate advice, but life coaching as well. We have a personal business coach on staff as well as training for new and experienced agents. We have an in-house marketing department with award-winning graphic designers complete with print shop. A full-time in-house real estate attorney is available to assist agents with legal questions, short sale, REO and foreclosure deals. Our management team has nearly 200 years of real estate and business experience collectively.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: West Chicago
Why real estate: One of my passions is to help people, and what better business to be in than helping people with the American Dream of home ownership!
What makes you different than any other managing broker: My agents are my clients and I support them by helping them grow their real estate business.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: Through the course of my career I have aligned myself with competent and trustworthy professionals.
Who do you admire: A person who has peace in their heart and passion in their soul!

“Century 21 Sussex & Reilly’s Wheaton office harbors a progressive and comfortable work environment equipped with all of the tools, resources and state-of-the-art technology necessary to better equip their agents. Laurie Murphy allows us to work and learn independently, but is still proactive in making sure we are advised of the latest market trends and newest information to help us meet our goals and continue to succeed.”
-Vennessa Webb – Century 21 agent for four years

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LIZ SCHEFLER

Managing Partner
Century 21 Sussex & Reilly – Roscoe Village
smarterapproaches.com and sudlersothebysrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Failure is not an option, and behind every great woman is a man that is surprised.

Century 21 Sussex & Reilly is the ultimate contrarian in Chicago real estate. As other companies are giving in to the current market conditions, cutting their agent support and losing market share, S&R continues to grow and excel. In the past six months alone, we have opened showcase offices in Lincoln Park and Bucktown/Wicker Park, opened our new and expanded marketing department on Damen Avenue and opened our training center on Ashland Avenue in Lakeview, where our new commercial division is being prepared to launch. And we’re not finished! Century 21 Sussex & Reilly a smarter approach to real estate!

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 22
Number of full-time agents: 70
Describe the office space: We have 5,000 square feet of space in the heart of Roscoe Village. This is the original/flagship office for Sussex & Reilly. All administrative functions are carried out from this office.
Tech provided: Sussex & Reilly and Century 21 Intranet, LeadRouter, Smarter Agent, wireless offices and Smartphone for each agent with integrated calendar and MLS access. We also have color printers and scanner/fax; SR Prospect direct Web-based client management tools; Web site builder; agent-branded e-flyer formats for Just Listed, Just Sold, Open House and newsletter communications; Web-based Agent Financial Tools; Century 21 PR Studio; in-house photographer and free virtual tours.
Desk setup: Combination of private office space, shared cubicles and wireless virtual agent docking stations

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: 9-5, seven days a week
MLS assistance: Agents do no MLS inputting.
Management support: Management offers not only real estate advice, but life coaching as well. We have a personal business coach on staff as well as training for new and experienced agents. We have an in-house marketing department with award-winning graphic designers complete with print shop. A full-time in-house real estate attorney is available to assist agents with legal questions, short sale, REO and foreclosure deals.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Antioch
Where did you learn the real estate business: On-the-job training from my former business partner and mentor John Simcic, who owned, built and financed real estate
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I have the strengths and knowledge that it takes to own, operate and manage a real estate business. I think the one difference is that I always add a human side to what is going on with the agent or client. I respect the people who choose to be in this profession, and try every day to make it easier for them to be the best possible agent, make money and enjoy what they do.
Who do you admire: I admire people who have stood tall in difficult times and have done the right thing even in the face of adversity.

“I think the Century 21 Sussex & Reilly office in Roscoe Village fits the definition of what a full-service real estate office should be: a place full of knowledge, resources, connections throughout the building/developer community as well as completely tapped into servicing the needs of individual re-sellers and buyers.”
-Megan Burdick – Sussex & Reilly agent since 2006

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SANDESH BILGI

Managing Broker and Director of Recruitment
Century 21 Sussex & Reilly – Bucktown/Wicker Park
smarterapproaches.com and sudlersothebysrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

When you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night, look in the mirror-That is the person you have to impress!

Sussex & Reilly can be summarized in five words: creative, dynamic, entrepreneurial, progressive and urban. It is these attributes that make us a smarter approach to real estate.

The Wicker Park/Bucktown office offers everything that you need in order to become a successful real estate agent by giving you the resources and tools to grow your business while maintaining your mission toward your future goals. You will learn how to apply the three “P’s” to perfection that has made Sandesh Bilgi a successful real estate agent and broker. They are: philosophy, professionalism and personality. Isn’t it time that you worked smarter and not harder?

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 3
Number of full-time agents: 45
Describe the office space: It is important that we provide an atmosphere in which we can foster the growth of our company culture. We have a strong commitment to building a team environment and allowing for open free dialogue and interaction to build camaraderie and professional development. We have 30 minute parking flashing zones in which agents can pull up in their car, hit the print button on their laptop and have an administrative staff member run the document out to their car.
Tech provided: BlackBerrys for instant and effective communication with clients, colleagues and management. Wireless functionality for efficiency and convenience. In-house training and online resources such as eblasts, conference calls and webinars. LeadRouter, an automated lead generator. All leads that are captured through phone calls and through the Internet are sent instantly to your BlackBerry.

THE EXTRAS
Management support: Beyond years of experience, personal and professional support, our management team provides a lifeline to success. We bridge the gap between client and agent to provide a realistic application of how business is done, and assist with providing all agents with training, field training, legal counsel, mentor, managing broker, administrative support, marketing director, graphic designer, professional business coach, escrow and transaction coordinator, professional photographer, sign installer, lead manager, print and online marketing resources to showcase listings on Realtor.com with enhanced virtual tours, flyers and postcards.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and I moved to Chicago in 1994.
Why real estate: Unlimited growth potential financially, personally and professionally. There is also a self gratifying feeling when helping a person find the home of their dreams where life-lasting memories are created. Beyond that, there is an opportunity to create the path for your future and to chart your own course for success.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: The personal attention that I give to my agents. They know that I am here for them to listen and that I have their best interests in mind. The energy and motivation that I instill in everyone that I interact with is contagious!
Who do you admire: My father, for teaching me to never give up and always strive to reach my goals.

“Sandesh’s successes as an agent himself and his ability to infuse them into his training have made me so much better as a Realtor.”
-Patrick Murphy – Two years with Sussex & Reilly, in real estate since 1990

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YEHUDA COHEN

Director
Century 21 Sussex & Reilly – Lincoln Square
smarterapproaches.com and sudlersothebysrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
I live life with Pete and Roger! Sometimes it’s “Long Live Rock!”

Our Century 21 Sussex & Reilly office is an amazing home for our agents and their clients. Here we are tucked amidst the shops of Lincoln Square within this historic district. We have all the bells and whistles that our great agents use every day, such as a high-speed scanner, color copier and Wi-Fi. When you walk into the office you can see any number of engaged agents researching properties or meeting with their clients. Last year Angelina Jolie was across the street at the toy store!

THE BASICS

Years as a MB: 3 at SR, 16 at other offices
Number of full-time agents: 48
Describe the office space: The office is 4,400 square feet with two floors. We are in central Lincoln Square.
Tech provided: Sussex & Reilly and Century 21 Intranet, LeadRouter, Smarter Agent, wireless offices and Smartphone for each agent with integrated calendar and MLS access. We also have color printers and scanner/fax; SR Prospect direct Web-based client management tools; Web site builder; agent-branded e-flyer formats for Just Listed, Just Sold, Open House and newsletter communications; Web-based Agent Financial Tools; Century 21 PR Studio; in-house photographer and free virtual tours.
Desk setup: Combination of private office space, shared cubicles and wireless virtual agent docking stations
Conference rooms: 1
Parking: 50 feet away

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
MLS assistance: Yes
Management support: Comprehensive 24-hour support

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Fourth generation Chicagoan
Why real estate: I wanted to be in an industry that affects everyone.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I’m more fun!

“Sussex & Reilly does an excellent job of providing agents with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful. The experienced management team is easily accessible and our innovative marketing department gives us an advantage over other agents. I enjoy working with Sussex & Reilly because there is a team atmosphere that is constantly working to achieve a smarter approach to real estate.”
-Mike Kelly – Century 21 agent since 2005

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JACK PERSIN

Managing Broker, President
Ryan Hill Realty – Naperville
ryanhillrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

“Your income is determined by your philosophy, not the economy.”
-JIM ROHN

Ryan Hill Realty is situated in the heart of Naperville and is embraced by the community at large mirroring the same philosophy that is a foundation to the success. As the market has seen a shift in the number of buying decisions, the company is moving full steam ahead with marketing initiatives that brand the company and agents as major players in the west suburban real estate market and continues to focus on serving the needs of its clients with exceptional service.

The successes have been realized with top agents joining the firm over the past 10 months. Increases in inventory, builder business and sales in the area are attributed to a campaign to bring the best Realtors to the team.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 3
Number of full-time agents: 45
Describe the office space: Situated in the heart of downtown Naperville, the offices are a blend of modern and traditional, tastefully updated to today’s agent.
Tech provided: Intranet service, personal laptops for agents
Desk setup: Private, plus semi-private team offices and general office open area; there is something for every agent
Conference rooms: Two – corporate board room and conference room to meet the clients
Parking: General parking behind office, on-street parking in front of the office

THE EXTRAS

Administrative staff: The marketing department is second to none and we have an administrative assistant to meet all the agents needs. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
MLS assistance: Realtor liaison, staff, licensed assistant, member RED
Management support: Negotiations, member on the board of directors for local association, ongoing training, Buffini Network company, continued development of new-agent training as well as Peak Performer coaching and development

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: I was born and raised in a southeast suburb of Cleveland. Bedford, Ohio was my birthplace, as well as the birth place of all three of our children.
Where did you learn the real estate business: I had a marketing and sales background. After going through initial license training, I placed my license with Merrill Lynch Realty in Naperville. I went through their management development program after my first year and was tracking toward a leadership role when Merrill Lynch Realty was purchased by another company.
Why real estate: My family was transferred several times in the 1980’s. One thing I found was the different type of service each Realtor provided. In the late 1980’s, my wife Diane and I were faced with another transfer. We made a life changing decision to jump into the real estate business together.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I love real estate and I love our agents. I am comfortable discussing all aspects of the business with our agents. It is my belief that by being of service to the community shows that we believe in the community. If I am different than the other brokers it is because of coaching, caring and seeing the best in people.
Who do you admire: I admire my wife Diane. As a mother to our three grown children, she continues to make me proud. As a grandmother of 10, she has more love to give than one can sometime comprehend. As a best friend she always is there for constant support. She also was a Realtor and understands the business. I hope our next 39 years are as good as the last 39.

“Having been with the same company for 15 years I knew it was time for a change. Ryan Hill Realty actually made the change easy! The support from Jack and Teresa was wonderful, and the incredible staff and marketing department are in a league above all the others.”
-Scott McFarlan – Ryan Hill agent for six months

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JIM ROTH

Broker and Principal
The Real Estate Group – Lakeview
tregchicago.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

If you are going to get up in the morning, make it worth while.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 6
Number of full-time agents: 17
Describe the office space: The space is designed to be more of a business center than a traditional office. There is private office space, an open floor with desk, hotel stations and conference rooms.
Tech provided: We have a number of business systems, all Web-based applications, which allows the active agent to work from anywhere. Our communications (phone and data) are VOIP. I own our systems, which gives us the flexibility to add or adapt them as needed.
Desk setup: Traditional desk, private office or virtual
Conference rooms: 4
Parking: Street, both free and metered

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: We have a central transaction manager who oversees all the files. The goal is to give business attention where agents need it. Normal office hours, available via BlackBerry all the time.
MLS assistance: Part of the transaction management process
Management support: I am the acting broker, and I give support and direction as requested. TREG agents are exceptional, they understand that they are CEO of the business and are empowered to act as such for their clients.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Ottawa, Ill. I am just a small town boy
Why real estate: It really just happened. I had sold my previous businesses (two taverns and one restaurant) and decided to get my license. The rest, as they say, is history.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: Good ones, I hope
Who do you admire: The people who believe enough in me and my organization to work here

“Jim and The Real Estate Group have come through for me on all their promises. I am incredibly happy with my move.”
-Kim Fielding – Agent with The Real Estate Group for one year

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CRAIG HOGAN

Team Leader/Broker
Keller Williams Gold Coast
kwgoldcoast.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 1
Number of full-time agents: 89 as of today. We just launched the new Rockford office out of this office I’m proud to say. Not bad for my first year!
Describe the office space: We have 4,200 square feet on the 30th floor of the Omni Hotel Business Tower. We have some of the most outstanding views of Chicago and it’s first class in feel and look.
Tech provided: We provide Internet access, Web sites, full-time tech on staff as well as a full wireless office and full eagent suite of products from KWRI
Desk setup: Every agent gets a desk, phone and Internet if they choose to be on site on a regular schedule. The others stop by less frequently, so they are at shared desks. Every agent gets their own locking cabinet. No desk fees here!
Conference rooms: We have one large conference room set up with plasma and hookups for training as well as demonstrations from vendors.

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Full-time staff consisting of our front desk, an agent services coordinator, tech coordinator and MCA. The MCA is our market center accountant who oversees daily operations and makes sure the agents get paid the same day as closing. Our staff is in the office from 7:45 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. every day.
MLS assistance: Our agent services coordinator helps out with MLS assistance.
Management support: I coach, mentor and teach in the office each week. The agents are entitled to one-on-one coaching sessions with me for 30 minutes each week. Those that participate are all on the scoreboard and in the top 20.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Houston, I moved here in 1994
Where did you learn the real estate business: I sat for my license in 1996 and learned from Wayne Etheridge and one of my most important mentors, Mike Kennelly (now Draper & Kramer), when we were with Cardinal Group prior to joining Keller Williams in 2000.
Why real estate: I choose real estate for the freedom, growth and income.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I love what I do and love the agents. I feel like a proud parent when they succeed and feel their pain when they’re down.
Who do you admire: I admire many, but I have to say that Gary Keller is at the top of the list. He is a true visionary.

“I have never before enjoyed the support and coaching of a leader that I now enjoy with Craig, and it has helped me become a CAR top-producing agent.”
-Stephanie Derderian-Keller Williams agent for four and one-half years

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DAVID CAMP

Broker/Team Leader
Keller Williams Lincoln Square
kwlincolnsquare.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Do the right thing, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: Team Leader for KW for 9 months. Have had a top-producing sales team for the last 12 years.
Number of full-time agents at your office: 95
Describe the office space: We are located in a high-traffic corner location at Wilson and Western Avenue in dynamic Lincoln Square.

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: We are open seven days a week during regular business hours, and have a full-time agent services coordinator, receptionist, in-house closing department and broker.
Describe your desk set up: We are currently under renovation, but will maintain an open resource center with multiple work stations and open desk space for remote agents. Private cubicles and private offices are also available for full-time agents with assistants and teams.
Management support: Training and consulting is one of our core values at KW. I work with my top agents to give them the resources they need to take their business to the next level. Likewise, our top agents volunteer to train and mentor our newer agents.

THE BACKSTORY

Where did you grow up: Bucks County, Pa.
Where did you learn the real estate business: My best friend’s family had one of the premiere real estate offices in my area. My mother worked there for a time, as did a few of our other friends’ parents. As kids we were often dragged along to showings or open houses, and later on summer breaks we were always putting up signs, cutting the lawns at the model homes or other clean-up work for their clients. The real estate industry was always dinner table conversation, and luckily I had a strange passion for it right from the start.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I have been fortunate enough to have a successful agent business that I believe my agents appreciate when they look at me as a leader. They know when I offer suggestions on ways to increase their business, I would not ask them to do things I don’t do myself.

“Dave is extremely passionate about real estate and has brought new life to our office. People respect the fact that he is a successful agent in his own right, which means he can lead by example.”
-Chris Dwyer-Keller Williams agent for two and one-half years

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DEBORAH BENN

Team Leader
Keller Williams Lincoln Park Realty
kw.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 4
Number of full-time agents: 60
Desk setup: On site and virtual
Conference rooms: 2

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Monday through Friday 9-5 and weekends 10-3
MLS assistance: Yes
Management support: Training, coaching and broker support

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Flossmoor
What makes you different than any other managing broker: The Keller Williams culture has given me the ability to create an environment that empowers and enables the agents to be the CEO of their business. My goal for agents and their families is to have freedom to accomplish what they want to achieve in life. Their real estate business is a vehicle to accomplish this. My company has given me the tools and education to make this a reality for our agents.
Who do you admire: Gary Keller. His ability and passion to lead people in understanding how to survive and/or thrive during this time is unbelievable. His leadership is unprecedented in the real estate industry and I’m honored to be affiliated with him.

“I like working at Keller Williams because our leaders at an international level all the way down to Deb Benn have the same mentality: the company is successful because of the agents. The focus is always on me and my business, not what I need to be doing to help the company. This gives me the freedom to run my business how I want, and it gives me the leverage to succeed at a much higher level!”
-Phil Byers-Keller Williams agent for four years

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JOSEPH MARELLA

Broker/Owner & Operating
Principal
Keller Williams Realty Partners
Park Ridge
KWHomefinder.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Real estate is a local business driven by the local Realtor and their sphere of influence.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 8
Number of full-time agents: 55
Describe the office space: A big, beautiful executive office
Tech provided: We have state-of-the-art computers and equipment.
Desk setup: We offer a wide range of options from private offices to off-site virtual offices.
Conference rooms: 3
Parking: We have over 40 spaces on site

THE EXTRAS

Administrative staff: All day and on the weekend we have six staffers available to help.
MLS assistance: Yes
Management support: Whatever a Realtor needs, we supply the assistance.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Melrose Park
Where did you learn the real estate business: I started with Coldwell Banker
Why real estate: I was tired of working for others and wanted my own business, and real estate afforded that opportunity.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: We have a full array of affiliated business, most of which are on premises.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I believe the client comes first, the Realtor second and then the company. And I believe real estate companies should profit share, and we do!
Who do you admire: My wife, my parents and Ronald Reagan

“This office is the best. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. I’d never move.”
-Donna Mundzic-Keller Williams agent for seven years

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MARK HOLLINGSHEAD

Team Leader
Keller Williams
Naperville
kwrealestatesales.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Bring me solutions along with your challenges.

THE BASICS
Number of full-time agents: 22
Describe the office space: Welcoming, large training room for ongoing education that is used daily, agent-friendly large resource room equipped with five computer stations with tools to help the agent put presentations together. Also, private offices and individual workstations are customizable to suit the agentsÕ needs.
Tech provided: State-of-the-art color copiers and computers, updated network servers, wireless network capability, online virtual office, individual agent Web sites and online training
Parking: Ample parking steps from the front door

THE EXTRAS

Administrative staff: Four positions: Team Leader overlooks the smooth day-to-day transactions, Market Center Administrator handles the financials, Director of Agent services assists in agents issues and questions and Director of First Impressions handles all clerical work. Staff is available Monday-Friday 9-6, Sat. 9-5 and Sun. 10-5.
Management support: Business planning, agent branding, technology assistance, on site daily support, ongoing training and one-on-one coaching

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Iowa
Where did you learn the real estate business: I grew up in rural America where 1031 exchanges, land lease, lease to own and figuring your ROI returns on different parcels was an everyday practice.
Why real estate: I want to help people fulfill their dreams and visions through home ownership.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: I have an extensive network of Realtors in the U.S. and abroad.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I understand the sentiment that no one can succeed alone.
Who do you admire: I admire Gary Keller because of his brilliance and excellence in leadership and his willingness to teach the basic values of life.

“I imagined doing what I love to do for a living with a passion and enthusiasm to make a difference, and working with a company to accomplish my goal. This is truly the Keller Williams difference.”
-Dena Furlow-Keller Williams agent for eight years

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PAMELA HILLENDRAND

Team Leader
Keller Williams
Libertyville
KWpreimer.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

To build careers worth having, businesses worth owning and lives worth living.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 14
Number of full-time agents: 90
Describe the office space: We have a delightful location right on a main street in Libertyville.
Tech provided: We have the finest, up-to-date technology with 10 general computers for our agents and a camera for keeping in close contact with other offices. We work with e-mail and BlackBerrys so we can stay in contact all the time.
Desk setup: We have both private and shared offices
Parking: Loads of parking right in front of our office

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Our staff is here Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with shorter hours on Saturday and Sunday,
Management support: We have hands-on training for all our agents with ongoing classes, such as 2009 planning and a two-day tech seminar here in the office. I do private one-on-one coaching and we share in training. Our agents give regular classes on timely subjects.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: I am a local girl brought up in Logan Square, and then I went on to Park Ridge for my last half of schooling.
Why real estate: I always wanted to be in real estate, but took a detour when I had my three children and some exciting years in the steel business in the 80’s. I became a real estate agent and broker in 1985.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: With 23 years in the industry, I am comfortable with hundreds of tile companies and lawyers, allowing me to offer solutions to all the current issues we have in today’s market.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: With my many years of experience in the up and down markets, I am a great trainer and coach. I am a CE instructor and have been teaching new agents for the last 10 years with excellent results. I am also a broker in Wisconsin.

“Yes, it’s a different market, but I am busier than ever, thanks to Keller Williams. Their support has made me a better agent already.”
-Elizabeth Splitt – Keller Williams agent for two months

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PATRICK MCALOON

Team Leader
Keller Williams
West Loop
kwwestloop.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Thou shalt lead generate!

THE BASICS

Years as a MB: 5
Number of full-time agents: 65
Desk setup: On site and virtual

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Available 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Management support: Management provides training, coaching, profit sharing and a team environment.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: I grew up in Brooklyn-a city of neighborhoods like Chicago.
Where did you learn the real estate business: I learned from Gary Keller, author of “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.”
Who do you admire: I admire the agents who dedicate their time and efforts to serving their clients.

“I love the Keller Williams model. I get to keep more of the total commission, have the finest training in the industry and am affiliated with a company that really cares.”
-Terri Buseman-Keller Williams agent for five years

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RAY ZABIELSKI

Managing Broker
Charles Rutenberg Realty-Naperville
YouEarnedItYouKeepIt.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

You earned it, you should keep it!

Charles Rutenberg Realty is a firm built upon the premise that it is the agent in the field who generates the business and, as such, it is that agent who should retain the lions share of the earned commissions.

We believe that agents in the field are looking for a firm that will provide the infrastructure support so the agents can build their business, but not one where the managing broker competes with them for the next deal or one that demands an inordinate share of the hard-earned commission dollars earned through the agents efforts.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 8
Number of full-time agents: 752
Describe the office space: With our company, your computer is your office.
Tech provided: Everything is available online including document management through SettlementRoom.com, commission payment through direct deposit and communication with our hundreds of agents through our online agent group site.
Desk setup: Virtual with corporate administration in Naperville

THE EXTRAS

Administrative staff: Virtual administrative assistance is available online for a modest fee.
MLS assistance: Yes, by request and for a modest fee

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: After living in Japan and around the country while my father was in the Air Force, we settled in the Chicago area. I went to high school in Hoffman Estates and college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Where did you learn the real estate business: With a major in real estate finance, I started in real estate with Rich Port, Realtor in Schaumburg. Later, after years in commercial investment real estate, I founded Charles Rutenberg Realty of Illinois in 2004.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: My focus is to help our agents succeed. My role is to grow the company and to be responsive to agents when they need deal assistance. I do not compete for deals with the agents.

“It’s truly amazing to work for a company whose broker is continuing to search for new products and makes them available to his agents.”
-Emma Pawlik-One year with Charles Rutenberg Realty

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LONG BARNES

Managing Broker
Sudler Sotheby’s International Realty-North Center
sudlersothebysrealty.com

PERSONAL MOTTO
Turn every situation, good or bad, into an opportunity to learn something new.

I’m excited to announce that Urban Domain Real Estate has recently merged with Sudler Sotheby’s International Realty, a company that is recognized for its leadership and expertise in the luxury real estate market. Our new office, in the North Center neighborhood at 3934 N. Lincoln Ave., will be expanding quickly and looking to add highly skilled professionals to our team. We have the most talented and diverse agents who believe that success comes in the form of solid experience, strong knowledge of their local market and the dedication to delivering excellence in client services. As managing broker, I make it a point to spend time with all my agents to discuss goals and how the Sotheby’s world renowned name can help them acquire new business and increase their current sales. Each agent will be given personal attention to assist in his/her continued education, motivation, sales training and marketing.

Our agents can count on me, both personally and professionally, to lead them to the next level of success. I believe the office environment should be friendly and open with a focus on building business and having fun doing it.

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 5
Number of full-time agents: 15
Describe the office space: We have an amazing office that blends old world charm with modern touches, including marble floors, granite, wide open space and 20-foot-high ceilings.
Tech provided: Wireless access, color printing, members Web site and plasma TVs
Desk setup: Both virtual and on site
Conference rooms: 2
Parking: Ample street parking

THE EXTRAS
MLS assistance: Complete MLS support
Management support: Training, transaction, marketing, sales and administrative support

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: Evanston
Why real estate: I have always been an entrepreneur and got a taste of real estate when I purchased my first home at the age of 21. Even though I was busy for the next 10 years with other ventures, I eventually came back to my real passion-real estate.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: I have cultivated many relationships with leaders in each industry. I feel that in today’s market you must have a solid and trusting partnership with an experienced mortgage broker that can get the deal closed.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I consider all of my agents a business partner and a friend. I celebrate achievements with my team by providing drinks and food and sharing their success stories. Quarterly contests, massage chair in the office, unlimited coffee and gym membership assistance are some of the other perks offered to full-time agents.

“I’ve enjoyed working for Long Barnes. He’s a great manager, mentor and friend who listens and provides excellent insight and motivation into business and life.”
-Michael Baber – Urban Domain agent for three years

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TRIPTI KASAL

President/Managing Broker
Real Living Infinity-Lincoln Park
RealLivingInfinity.com

PERSONAL MOTTO

Live life to its fullest!

THE BASICS
Years as a MB: 7
Number of full-time agents: 14
Describe the office space: A boutique storefront on Armitage in the heart of Lincoln Park. Welcoming, upbeat environment. Although many of our agents work from home or virtually, they still have a beautiful, comfortable place they can come to work.
Tech provided: Computers at every cubicle, e-mail fully integrated with Outlook, wireless service, in-house server and IT support for agent handhelds and laptops. Two color copiers, a scanner and e-fax available.
Desk setup: There are cubicles for any agents who want them, with a computer and phone connected to our servers. We are set up so that an agent can work from anywhere. IT professionals set up handheld devices and show agents how to access their e-mail or desktop from anywhere.

THE EXTRAS
Administrative staff: Full-time, full-service administrative staff
MLS assistance: Our staff handles all MLS input/changes, etc., for our agents.
Management support: As a full-time managing broker, I am available for support, assistance, brainstorming, etc., and I do not compete with our agents.

THE BACKSTORY
Where did you grow up: I grew up in the Western suburbs, but have now lived in Chicago for over 20 years. I consider myself a true city girl!
Where did you learn the real estate business: I learned the business from Charlie and Harry Huzenis of Jameson, two of Chicago’s great real estate pioneers.
Why real estate: It’s a fabulous business. As a managing broker/owner, I get to help other people learn to love this business as well. There is nothing else I would rather be doing.
What kinds of relationships do you have within the industry: This is a relationship business and it’s so important to have the right relationships in order to service our clients as a team. I am on the board of the Women’s Council of Realtors, which is an organization that helps to promote these partner relationships.
What makes you different than any other managing broker: I am truly passionate about what I do, love seeing the people in my office succeed and know that they are the best agents in the city.

“Tripti Kasal is incredibly knowledgeable about real estate, super accessible to ask questions and gives agents the support and confidence they need to be successful for themselves and the company.”
-Katie O’Connor-Real Living Infinity agent for four years

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