A Southern California brokerage has celebrated every achievement – individual and collective – for the past 25 years
By Natalie Maris
A bronze plaque bearing John Lennon’s image and words hangs in Sharon Rotondo’s Southern California office.
Lennon’s quote reads: “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
“Happy” is clearly a goal at this office.
“I think that in order to be successful, you need to fall in love with what you do,” says Rotondo, owner of RE/MAX Partners in Corona, California. “That’s how I am. I feel it every day I walk in here.”
She’s not the only one.
“Sharon takes very good care of her agents,” says Joan Shipps, a RE/MAX Hall of Fame member who’s been with the brokerage since day one. “She honors and respects us, and she’s quick to reward our hard work. RE/MAX Partners is a special office, filled with positive, productive people. It’s a great thing to be part of.”
RE/MAX Partners enjoys a prime location in Corona, a Greater Los Angeles community that’s grown steadily over the years. Rotondo opened the office in 1990, believing that affordable housing, desirable shopping destinations and changing consumer trends would make the Inland Empire, just east of Los Angeles, a fruitful market for her agents. And she was right.
But location is only part of the equation.
“Our Associates are the key to every success we’ve had,” says Rotondo, whose 25 years of experience has led to an uncanny ability to pinpoint and enhance all her team members’ individual strengths. “We handpick service-minded people who are dedicated to the profession, committed to their clients and active in the community.”
For Shipps, Rotondo is much more than an excellent owner. She serves as a mentor for her and almost every Associate who walks through the door. “When I first began working for RE/MAX Partners, and I would ask a question, [Rotondo] would say to me: ‘what would the best real estate agent in the world do?’ She encouraged me to find my own conclusions. That type of training allowed me to really grow as an agent and enabled me to reach the 100 Percent Club in my first year with the company.”
‘It’s a people business.’
Rotondo and the leadership at RE/MAX Partners view real estate as a relationship business and they understand the importance of a productive, collaborative office culture. To that end, longtime Associates mentor and encourage new recruits, helping them improve their chances for long-term success
Sales Associate Ben Rubalcava is a good example. In 2010, after serving in the Marines, Rubalcava was seeking a high-energy career in which he could help people. Real estate seemed ideal. He contacted RE/MAX Partners in search of a professional he could learn from. He impressed Rotondo with his work ethic and drive, and was invited to enroll in the company’s agent development program.
“I was overwhelmed at first,” Rubalcava says. “I thought, ‘Do I have what it takes to be here?’ But there was no way I was going to quit. I took everything I learned and applied it to building my business, and Sharon and my colleagues supported me every step of the way.”
It worked out well. Rubalcava earned his way into the RE/MAX 100 Percent Club (over $100,000 in commissions) in 2012. And he’s been a member every year since.
“Real estate is a people business, and when you do a great job for someone, they respect and appreciate it,” he says. “They also tell their friends. And there’s nothing like personal recommendations to get your career moving in the right direction.”
In addition to the unique coaching he received from his colleagues, Rubalcava credits the power of the RE/MAX brand for fueling his success.
“I knew early on that I wanted to be with RE/MAX,” he says. “The brand puts my name in front of potential clients before they even meet me.”
Recognizing and rewarding wins
Rubalcava is only one of the many success stories at RE/MAX Partners. The office topped $150 million in sales last year and the agent roster includes many production and career award winners.
The brokerage’s incredible accomplishments over the years wouldn’t be possible without the camaraderie and sense of service Rotondo has emphasized since the beginning.
“Everyone at RE/MAX Partners excels at providing real value,” says Richard Thompson, a RE/MAX Hall of Famer and perennial 100 Percent Club member who’s been with Rotondo for 16 years. “Sharon and the entire team offer continuous support to every agent. And the agents do the same for their clients.”
Rotondo also believes in recognizing high performers and motivating all of her agents to achieve all they can. She takes Sales Associates to dinner, on outings and on limousine trips. And every year, the office’s top 10 agents are treated to a trip. They’ve traveled to Hawaii, New Orleans, Florida and Disney World, among other destinations.
“Everyone celebrates what’s been accomplished,” Rotondo says. “The respect our agents have for each other is a big part of our story. We share in each other’s success.”
That’s true in very literal ways. A small bell hangs on the wall of the office kitchen, ready to ring any time an agent gets a listing or sells a house. Like the sentiment of the John Lennon quote, it nicely symbolizes the philosophy at RE/MAX Partners.
“Sharon and the leadership team want everyone in the office to grow and succeed. That’s clear from the day you arrive,” says Hall of Famer Jackie Pederson, who joined the company as an Office Manager in 1994 before earning her real estate license and becoming an agent three years later. “Sharon has always been helpful to every agent who has walked through the door.”