Top Workplaces Case Study:
Danberry Realtors

Danberry Realtors Puts Agents First, Success Follows

Danberry Realtors assists consumers in selling, buying, renting, and managing residential and commercial properties. The company’s 350 agents work out of seven offices in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, and about 50 support personnel provide property management, auction, relocation services, and full-service marketing.

Danberry Realtors

Toledo, OH
Real Estate Brokerage
Mid-Sized Business
(100-999 employees)

Build a cohesive culture in a business with 90 percent contract employees.
Top Workplaces survey to listen to agents’ needs and build a culture to support agents and the community.
Named a Top Workplace since 2017 and reached #1 in the region.

Established in 1962, the company is the region’s leading real estate brokerage based on sales volume and transactions. Danberry Realtors also is number one when it comes to employee satisfaction, taking home top honors for the region’s 2021 Top Workplaces, placing first for large businesses. It’s not a surprise that the company achieves top accolades for both financial success and agent satisfaction, as happy employees are productive employees. An article in The Blade in Toledo highlighted a number of reasons.

“Danberry strives to do what’s best for the agents,” Rick Popiolek, an agent at the Toledo office who has worked for the company for 30 years, told the newspaper. “Other companies strive to do what’s best for the company. They don’t always put their agents number one.”

Creating a cohesive company culture can be especially difficult in the real estate industry. About 90 percent of Danberry’s agents are independent contractors. To create camaraderie among agents, Danberry focuses on promoting team volunteerism and supports a number of charity events every year.

"... I very much enjoy selling real estate but love working for Danberry. I attribute 100 percent of my success to the environment of my office and co-workers."

A Commitment to Culture Keeps Business Strong in Hard Times

When the pandemic hit and charitable opportunities evaporated, the company made a point to continue its warm and cohesive culture, and let its agents know that they were supported, The Blade reported.

Maintaining that culture while going virtual posed a challenge, company co-owner Dan McQuilen told the newspaper, but the company found creative alternatives to in-person gatherings, including hosting virtual trivia nights and Pictionary sessions.

Employees also were encouraged to rally around each other. When an agent got sick, others organized a meal train. If someone needed something from the office but didn’t feel safe leaving home, co-workers helped out.

Agents anonymously surveyed for Top Workplaces by Energage praised the company’s culture of interpersonal intimacy and creative variety.

“As far as the culture, the pandemic has made it stronger, because everybody knows the company has got our back,” Popiolek was quoted as saying. “They’ve been bending over backwards to make it as easy as possible for us to continue working. Whatever we need, they take care of us.”

When Culture is Strong, Employees Lean In And Produce Big Results

There were some positive developments from the pandemic too. Before the pandemic, about half the company’s contractors attended monthly office meetings. Now, with the meeting just a click away, participation has doubled, the newspaper reported.

While 50 to 75 percent of staffers took advantage of remote options even before the pandemic, now about 95 percent of staffers work remotely. The company responded by putting all the tools in place to facilitate remote work.

“(The pandemic) made us a better company — it’s forced us to be a better company,” McQuillen was quoted as saying.

Despite a plunge in real estate transactions at the beginning of the pandemic, leadership continued to ensure the workplace environment was spirited and friendly, with a continued emphasis on employee well-being. As a result, Danberry realtors were determined to make the company successful. Demand eventually rebounded, and the company ended up having its best-ever financial year in 2020, The Blade reported.

To learn more about Danberry Realtors, visit their Top Workplaces profile here.

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