An Engel & Völkers storefront isn’t loud.
Clean and monochromatic, they often feature just the name of the company and a pair of small topiary bushes on either side of the entrance. A tipped-back window display of real estate listings is designed to draw potential customers’ eye up into the minimalist space decorated in white, black and red.
“It all exudes comfort,” said Ray Alexander, managing broker with the firm’s south Tampa branch. It says, “'Hey, come on in for an espresso.'”
The luxury real estate and brokerage company ranked No. 1 among small businesses on this year’s list of Top Workplaces, climbing from No. 3 in 2019. It specializes in high-end properties, such as the St. Petersburg’s $8 million Rutland Estate listing posted earlier this year, but also has “lifestyle” divisions that broker sales of yachts and airplanes.
Its consistent image and international presence, Engels & Völkers employees said, helps set it apart.
“In my shop in Bellaire, we’ve had people come in and say, ‘Can I park my bike out front? Because I live near one in Denmark and they always let me park my bike there,’” said Kelly Montgomery-Kepler, a broker with the firm. “They just immediately build that trust.”
She and Alexander joined the 43-year-old company when it expanded stateside from Germany in 2008. It currently has 3,555 U.S.-based employees, 102 of which work at the firm’s four Tampa Bay locations.
One of the biggest draws for them and other brokers with the firm is its collaborative environment. Brokers with Engel & Völkers work together to pitch and present property listings and share ideas on how to improve.
“You’ll find that some other brands are competing when they’re in close proximity,” Montgomery-Kepler said, “whereas we work together.”
Finding the right fit for employees, then, is key to maintaining Engle & Völkers image and feel.
“When we select our advisors, we have to make sure they check off all the boxes with regards to professionalism, responsiveness, reputation,” Alexander said.
They also must identify with the company’s values of competence, exclusivity and passion.
Engel & Völkers’ values are what broker Leisa Erickson found attractive.
“For me, it was like I found a home,” Erickson said. “When I started meeting people with Engel & Völkers, it became apparent that the level of professionalism met what I was accustomed to having in a professional environment.”
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Cherie Pattishall, managing broker, owned an independent brokerage for 20 years before joining Engel & Völkers. She liked the listing tools and marketing capability the company had.
“I don’t have to reinvent the wheel anymore,” she said. “Being an independent brokerage, it brought us up over the next two years exponentially.”
Much of the firm’s clientele is international. Canadians make up a significant portion of the firm’s customer base, as do western and now eastern Europeans.
But American Baby Boomers also make up a fair portion of its customers.
“We see them before they turn 65 because a lot of them want to buy that secondary home and have it here,” Alexander said.
One of the major selling points for that age group is walkability. Mixed-use areas such as those in Dunedin, Clearwater Beach, northwest Tampa and Davis Islands are a significant draw, the firm said.
“That demographic wants to walk and not have cars and things like that,” Erickson said.
Over the coming years, the Tampa Bay contingent of Engel & Völkers expects to double in size with 60 hires planned for the coming year alone.
“We are heading toward being the preeminent luxury agency,” Erickson said.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Engel & Völkers is specializes in the brokerage of premium residential property, commercial real estate, yachts and aircrafts. The company operates in 30 countries on four continents.
Employees: 102 (around Tampa Bay)
Locations: Tampa, St. Petersburg, Madeira Beach, Belleair Bluffs
“I am able to have a thriving career in a highly competitive field, flexibility of schedule, and amazing leadership. The culture is very team oriented for all to succeed.”
“I feel like a family member rather than a team member. We have a very nice atmosphere at our shop.”
“I have the opportunity to help people with one of the most important assets of their life.”