San Antonio real estate firm JBGoodwin in top spot for midsize employers for third time in 5 years
Winning the Top Workplace for midsize employers is starting to become old hat for real estate brokerage JBGoodwin Realtors’ San Antonio office.
JBGoodwin snared this year’s honor, the third time in five years that it has landed atop the rankings.
It’s also the 10th consecutive year the firm has appeared as a Top Workplace. Since debuting at No. 6 in the ranking for small employers in 2012, JBGoodwin has finished no lower than third in each subsequent Top Workplace. It graduated from a small to midsize employer in 2016.
“We’re super excited that this is our 10th time,” said Erin Cestero, president of JBGoodwin’s San Antonio office.
This year’s runners-up are the Bexar Appraisal District — last year’s top midsize employer — and real estate firm Phyllis Browning Co., according to the survey conducted by Philadelphia-based Energage.
Cestero credited a culture nurtured by founder J.B. Goodwin for its continued recognition as a Top Workplace.
“It’s a family that puts people first,” she said. “We say it a lot and it sounds kind of cheesy, but ….”
Cestero added, “We’re always focused on how we can make our agents feel supported and valued.”
“Don’t get me wrong, we celebrate numbers and volume and sales and monetary success, but it all comes from J.B. His mission statement from the beginning, since 1972, was to ‘help people,’” she said.
The firm’s mission statement says it helps people “by making sure we assist our agents to be the top real estate professionals in their markets.”
Chris Via, new to the real estate industry when he joined JBGoodwin in 2017, praised the firm for helping him become a successful agent.
“I wouldn’t be half the agent I (am) without the mentoring, without the encouragement and without the support of all the management at JBGoodwin,” Via said.
Via cited the “intangibles” when addressing the support he’s received from the firm.
“It took me a little while to get started in the industry,” he said. “I would say the first 18 months were pretty slow for me. (But) there really wasn’t a day that went by that the management team wasn’t encouraging me, telling me that I was in the right place, that I could do it, that I’m working hard, it’s going to happen.
“And I think for me, that’s the support that I needed to be a successful agent and that’s exactly what they gave to me,” Via added.
JBGoodwin launched in 1972 in Austin. Thirty-eight years elapsed before it opened its office in San Antonio. Overseeing the fledgling venture was office president Reagan Greer.
Susan Jones was the second real estate agent Greer brought on in the San Antonio office.
“He had his card table in the office and two chairs,” she recalled. “We started with his fax machine, my printer and our cellphones. That’s where we started.
“The feeling that Reagan wanted to send out to everybody is if you come here, you will have a great experience, you’ll get wonderful education and a caring, nonthreatening environment,” she said. “You’ll have family, and you’ll be one of the most respected professional groups in the area, if not the state.”
Greer oversaw the office’s expansion until he succumbed to cancer two years ago. Cestero succeeded him at the helm. The military spouse joined the San Antonio office as its 39th real estate agent in 2012. She soon became sales manager and later vice president.
Cestero said she hasn’t changed a thing since becoming president.
“I’m just carrying on what Reagan started and what our agents demonstrate daily,” she said. “Nothing has changed at all.”
At the pace JBGoodwin has been expanding, it may not be long before it’s vying to become the Top Workplace among large employers with 500 or more employees.
JBGoodwin is up to 392 employees, comprised of 376 agents and 16 management and support staff. That’s 48 percent increase from the 265 people it employed a year ago.
“If you lined us all up, there’s every race, color, creed, gender pronoun in our group,” Jones said. “We love each other and we respect each other, and we lift each other up.”
Cestero cited two reasons for the office’s growth. First, a lot of agents have joined JBGoodwin from other firms. Second, many people have gotten into real estate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the last year, the San Antonio division has opened offices in Boerne and Schertz, too. The San Antonio office will soon be moving into new digs a couple blocks away on Sigma and Sonterra roads. The office offers additional training space.
JBGoodwin hosts various fundraisers and events to assist charitable organizations. For instance, it will hold a Halloween blood drive and a chili cook-off next month to benefit the San Antonio Food Bank. The events help build camaraderie among the firm’s personnel.
Selling real estate is “still a big struggle,” even in the white-hot San Antonio market, Cestero said.
“Only 10 percent of people who get into the industry will succeed,” she said. “At JBGoodwin, we’re actually over 85 percent success rate for our agents.”
The firm focuses on training for new agents and teaching “good habits” from the beginning, Cestero added.
JBGoodwin has a performance coach and some of its top-performing real estate agents provide mentoring for those new to the business, she said.
“Again, it’s people first,” Cestero said. “In real estate, there’s enough business to go around. If we really focus as a team on how we can help more people, the income naturally follows for our agents.”
Technically, JBGoodwin’s real estate agents are not considered employees. They are recognized as independent contractors, so they don’t receive the traditional benefits workers that those in other industries enjoy, such as paid sick leave, vacation time and health insurance.
Still, JBGoodwin staffers gave rave reviews of their employer in the Energage survey.
“Everyone is so happy and loves to be where they are and you can feel the atmosphere from when you walk in the front door,” said one person.
“The people at JBGoodwin are amazing,” said another. “It is an exciting, collaborative environment where everyone likes to see and help others succeed, while continuing to pursue their own goals and dreams. Everyone works hard to support each other in that endeavor. People have grace for each other, as well. You don’t seen that in most corporate environments.”