Services Finalist

Realizing firsthand a need for better services and support for realty agents, Michael Golden and Thaddeus Wong gave up their positions as topproducing agents at a small brokerage firm to start their own company to provide just that.

Co-founding @properties in 2000, they began as a small, four-person operation selling new construction. Twelve years later, it is now the largest real estate brokerage firm in Chicago and the 35th largest in the nation. In addition to a commercial real estate division, the company offers institutional services and property management.

Employing 1,050 real estate agents, Golden and Wong have grown @properties largely by attracting and retaining high-quality agents through strong levels of service and support. Much of this support comes in the form of professional marketing programs. To create successful programs, Golden and Wong utilized their combined

experience in condominium development sales, scaling the sophisticated marketing programs they once created for that market to the sale of a single home by a single agent.

The company has an internal marketing team that creates personalized logos, brochures and advertising promoting brokers and their listings, printing highquality and affordable materials in the company’s own print shop. This team has also negotiated bulk advertising discounts with media partners, passing those savings to @properties agents.

In addition to marketing support, the firm provides agents with opportunities to grow in both personal and professional capacities. The company offers yoga classes, employs full-time performance coaches to help agents develop personalized business plans, provides an improvisational workshop targeted toward real estate agents and offers weekly sales training classes. It also brings in guest speakers from around the country for larger events

How to reach: @properties,

Published in Chicago

Paul Mastronardi travels the world each year searching for new seed varieties to add to the mix at Mastronardi Produce Ltd. And when he’s searching, it’s his sense of taste and flavor that becomes much more valuable than the business expertise he has gained as part of a fourth-generation family organization.

It’s not that the business knowledge isn’t important; the produce grower would not be the success it is today without a leader who could manage people and set a clear strategy for the company to follow. But Mastronardi takes that extra critical step by being passionate about the product his company sells and constantly looking for something that will dazzle the taste buds of his customers.

When Mastronardi came on board as president at the company -- North America’s largest greenhouse grower/marketer of greenhouse-grown produce -- he quickly understood that innovation would be critical to his success. He needed to be on the lookout for more flavors and more products that customers could get excited about. He also wanted the company’s packaging to be attractive and for operations to be conducted in a manner that was friendly to the environment.

Internally, Mastronardi also wanted to increase training so that employees would be up to speed with the latest methods and tools to be more productive. Doing so would also reinforce the team concept that he knew would be critical to the company’s continuing success.

But it’s Mastronardi’s love of produce that drives him and, by example, drives his employees to work hard every day. He keep his employees tuned in to what’s happening in the company and invested in the new ideas that he believes can help the grower continue to grow.

This passion has helped Mastronardi Produce stay on top of its game and remain a leader in the produce industry into the 21st century.

How to reach: Mastronardi Produce Ltd., (734) 727-0900 or

Published in Detroit