Vitals: @properties
Years in Business: 20
Size: 33 offices, 2,800 agents
Regions Served: Chicagoland, second-home communities in Southwest Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, and the Atlanta Metro area
2019 Sales Volume: $10 billion
2019 Transactions: 21,000

As co-founder of @properties, one of the United States’ 11 largest brokerage firms by sales volume, Thad Wong has accomplished a great deal since first starting out as a Chicago agent in the mid-’90s. He started the firm 20 years ago and has seen sales grow from $40 million to more than $9 billion since opening its doors in 2000.

What first made you interested in a career in real estate?
Thad Wong:
I was always a great salesman growing up; it was in my blood, so I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I thought it would be a good idea to sell something expensive to correlate the greatest return. I thought about yachts, but I lived in Chicago, so that didn’t seem like the greatest thing. Real estate, therefore, made the most sense.

How was business for the firm in 2019?
It was great. It was a flat year market-wise. Our local Chicago market was down, but our market in Atlanta was up. We grew considerably through expanding in western suburb markets and opened two offices on the North Side as well. We grew about $1 million, so it was a good year for us.

Why are agents interested in joining your firm?
Usually, they come for the marketing and technology, and they have heard good things about our culture. We have a really deep-rooted organization, and the culture is only growing and becoming a more integral part of people’s lives. And our marketing is tops.

What are your plans for 2020?
We think it’s going to be a big year. We still have more expansion planned locally in the Chicagoland area. There are some other large suburbs we have not gone into yet. Right now, we have four offices that will be delivering between the first and second quarters this year. We’re also looking to expand in Southwest Michigan, as well as in Milwaukee and other areas of Wisconsin.

Can you provide an example of a technology you’ve brought in that has helped your agents?
Most companies will buy pieces of technology, but we’ve built our own suite of services. One piece is a deal management system (DMS), which manages the contract all the way from execution to close; it’s a seamless, online, integrated system that communicates with our agents and includes everything from reminders to automated checklists to brochure tools that go with all the photography and everything done in-house to market the listing. It’s an ever-evolving piece of technology.

What’s the secret for motivating agents?
We do a lot of training and coaching. I’m a big believer in the notion that when you can motivate and inspire an agent to grow and increase production, that is one of the things they are most appreciative of. We offer a lot of classes and also incorporate the Ninja training. We feel that works nicely with what we’ve done in-house.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.