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Professional growth, workplace fun drive St. Louis real estate firm Berkshire Hathaway's success

Professional growth, workplace fun drive St. Louis real estate firm Berkshire Hathaway's success

From the Which employers are the best in the St. Louis area? Check the 2021 list of Top Workplaces series

ST. LOUIS — Nate Carr joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties eight years ago as chief information officer, tasked with upgrading the real estate firm’s technology following the recession.

Carr, who had no background in real estate, liked the challenge and flourished.

“I’ve had the opportunity to spread my wings and take on a lot of other roles,” said Carr, now chief operations officer. “We give folks the opportunity to swim across a lot of different lanes here. I’ve done everything from network infrastructure, planning a golf tournament, to marketing.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties took first place among large-size employers in this year’s Top Workplaces survey.

The opportunity for career growth is among the prime reasons employees like working for Select Properties, which has about 550 employees across nearly a dozen offices in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Jill Fisher started at Select Properties part time in accounting 18 years ago, when it had just four area offices. She stayed because of the career opportunities, and is now the firm’s chief financial officer.

“Anytime we’re growing or there’s a need for a new position, the executive team has always looked within,” Fisher said. “They’ve always said, ‘Who do we have? Who knows our culture? Who can rise to the opportunity?’ That’s definitely one of my favorite things here.”

President and CEO Maryann Vitale Alles co-founded the company in 2002 at a time when two of the region’s biggest real estate firms — Gundaker Realtors and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage — merged. Alles sought to provide another option for home buyers and sellers as well as create a company that could help her employees and agents advance.

“I like the reward of helping people make more money than they ever imagined they could ever make,” Alles said. “I tell them, ‘You are the CEO of your own company.’ We will teach you what you need to do and train you.”

That training is ongoing and available to more than just new employees. Select Properties offers weekly coaching calls to any interested employee. The company also hosts “mastermind meetings” that offer insight on various topics. One recent mastermind meeting was about family business and how agents can build a successful company while working with family members.

As agents were forced to pivot to virtual tours during the COVID-19 pandemic, Select Properties partnered with a media company to help agents become more comfortable with creating videos.

“We try to support all of the different things that agents need in today’s market,” said Alles.

Other benefits employees said they enjoy are a 401(k) with a 4% company match, cellphone plan and a membership to Life Time Fitness in Frontenac.

The company also grew during the pandemic. In January, it acquired Illinois-based Elite Properties, which expanded Select Properties’ reach into the Metro East with roughly 50 agents serving southern Illinois from Edwardsville to Fairview Heights.

Accounting specialist Patrick Bost has been with the company since its launch in 2002 and has served in a variety of roles. He’s stayed because of the career opportunities as well as the casual work environment and fun events the company hosts outside of work.

Pre-pandemic, the company held gatherings at bar and gaming lounge Westport Social, wineries, pool parties, golf outings and more.

“The company offers a lot of benefits,” Bost said.

Top workplaces, large

These are the top 15 large employers, out of 22 participants in the survey. These businesses have more than 500 employees in the region.

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Field 5 Field 6 Field 7
Rank Name Founded Ownership Primary sector Headquarters Global employees
15 Keeley Companies 1976 Private Construction, infrastructure, technology St. Louis 1,244
14 Lindbergh Schools 1949 Public Primary/secondary schools St. Louis 870
13 Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles 1994 Public Casino, hotel, restaurants, entertainment St. Charles 950
12 Graybar 1869 Private Electrical distribution Clayton 8,700
11 Pattonville School District 1930 Public Primary/secondary schools St. Ann 971
10 Penn National Gaming St. Louis | Argosy, Hollywood & River City Casinos 1972 Parent company Casino Wyomissing, Pennsylvania 40,000
9 Missouri Baptist University 1964 Private College/university St. Louis 869
8 First Community Credit Union 1934 Nonprofit Credit union Chesterfield 554
7 Medical Transportation Management Inc. 1995 Private Non-emergency medical transportation Lake Saint Louis 1,600
6 Edward Jones 1922 Private Financial services St. Louis 49,585
5 Waterway Gas & Wash Co 1970 Private Automotive cleaning Chesterfield 1,700
4 National Information Solutions Cooperative 1964 Nonprofit Information technology Lake Saint Louis 1,242
3 Daugherty Business Solutions 1985 Private Management and IT consulting St. Louis 1,500
2 CarShield 2005 Private Other St. Peters 978
1 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties 2002 Private Agents/brokers St. Louis 530
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