Real estate agency is ‘a happy place’
The brokerage allows staff and agents alike to work flexible hours to care for children or ailing family members, and the offices close early before holidays and on Sunday afternoons in the summer.
Real estate broker Donna Spinoso-Gelb remembers seeing a sudden flurry of for-sale signs bearing the name of Signature Premier Properties in 2011.
“I said, ‘Wow, they must be doing something right, I see all these signs popping up,’” Spinoso-Gelb recalled. She soon joined what was then a small company with about 70 agents.
“It’s a happy place,” said Spinoso-Gelb, an associate broker and director of creative development at Signature Premier, which now has a workforce of more than 900 people, including agents, brokers and staff members. “I like being motivated, I like being challenged, and that’s what we have here. Our culture is really special.”
The East Northport-based brokerage’s emphasis on work-life balance, its support and training for agents and its collaborative culture secured it the No. 2 spot on the list of Long Island’s Top Workplaces among companies with 500 or more employees. The brokerage also won an award from Exton, Pennsylvania research firm Energage for its employees’ strong agreement with the statement “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life.”
In a response to the survey, one employee wrote that the brokerage supports “balance of family time, work and play. They are all about family first — rare and so appreciated.”
The brokerage allows staff and agents alike to work flexible hours to care for children or ailing family members, and the offices close early before holidays and on Sunday afternoons in the summer, Spinoso-Gelb said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie, so if I’m going on vacation, I can say to someone, ‘Can you handle my book of business?’ and I know that it’s going to be handled properly,” said Spinoso-Gelb, who has two sons, ages 22 and 19. “I’ve never felt there was any conflict with my home life interfering with my work life.”
Signature Premier holds annual three-day trips to Montauk, as well as trips to the Caribbean every two years. For those trips, top-selling agents can attend for free, but everyone is welcome to buy in, Spinoso-Gelb said.
The brokerage also offers family fun days, bring-your-child-to-work days, fishing trips and other gatherings where those based at its 17 offices can come together and get to know each other better, Spinoso-Gelb said. It maintains a monthly calendar of training sessions where agents can hone their technological skills or learn to write a compelling bio. The brokerage also sponsors weekly walks and annual drives to collect coats, food and toys and supports veterans’ groups and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, among other charities.
The emphasis on helping others extends to day-to-day life at the brokerage, Spinoso-Gelb said. If someone at one office is especially skilled at market analysis or technology, that person will help people in other offices, she said. “That’s really what makes it work so well, we’re not competing, we’re really a team,” she said.
The brokerage has kept its “mom and pop mentality” even as it has grown, said Kathy Kirby-Viard, co-owner of the brokerage along with business partner Peter Morris, who founded it in 2007. It has thrived by emphasizing teamwork, community service and learning, she said.
“It’s really important for people to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves,” Kirby-Viard said. “By educating and training our agents, we position them to be the best we can be.”
– Maura McDermott