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Some real estate firms see no slump in satisfaction

Craig Beggins rallies troops of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises every day.

Craig Beggins rallies troops of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises every day.

It has become a popular recession-era slogan in Tampa Bay real estate circles: Working twice as hard for half the money.

So imagine the surprise when some of the employers ranking tops for job satisfaction in the St. Petersburg Times survey were intimate with the real estate downturn.

Real estate brokers. A title agency. A construction company. An apartment rental business.

In a realty business rife with forced mergers and outright business failures, Century 21 Beggins Enterprises has held up its end from its base in Apollo Beach.

The same is true of Realtec Group Inc., the realty company with more than 100 agents headquartered in Palm Harbor.

Over in Clearwater, National Title Network Inc. continues to operate with 50-plus employees.

If there's anything that seems to unite those three companies, it's a never-say-die sense of fraternity.

Craig Beggins, owner of Beggins Enterprises, holds daily marketing meetings to assess the state of real estate. Every day, agents get encouraging and instructional e-mails, including a "hot sheet" that alerts them to the company's sales tally.

"Our mantra is 'We're going to show you how to sell more houses,' " Beggins said.

For Camden Property Trust, a Houston-based company that operates 12 apartment complexes in Tampa Bay, satisfaction starts at the top.

Even though they live and work in Texas, owners Ric Campo and Keith Oden make it a point to attend annual Ace Awards ceremonies for high-flying employees in Tampa. Campo showed up at the recent ceremony wearing a maintenance shirt to show solidarity with his staffers.

"They really help pump everyone up," said Brooke Middleton, Camden's regional marketing director. "They could never do that Undercover Boss TV show, because we know them too well."

The Beck Group, a Dallas-based construction company, is a two-time winner of Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Places to Work survey. The third-generation family-run company had to cut its local workforce but has avoided a deeper incision, thanks to the relative strength of the Texas market. Beck retained bonuses for employees last year and kept up contributions to 401(k) retirement plans.

"They offer a 3 percent match. They've never changed that," said Tampa office manager Sharon Frank, a 25-year veteran of Beck who's working through her third real estate downturn.

Most Florida economists predict that 2010 will be the last year of a five-year real estate slump. Here's hoping for even higher satisfaction in 2011.

Some real estate firms see no slump in satisfaction 03/21/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 1:48pm]
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