There are close-knit families that work well together, and then there are the Seidels, which own and run the Sarasota-based commercial real estate brokerage American Property Group of Sarasota Inc.
Theirs is a mutually admiring unit that is providing for a seamless transition from founding parents to next-generation sons.
Brian and Adam Seidel, who have slowly been taking over the brokerage’s day-to-day operations from parents Barry and Leslye for at least the past year, not only admire their elders but each other.
Seemingly absent, for instance, is the sibling competitive fire that sometimes stokes successful family enterprises and sometimes ruins them.
“My brother is one of my heroes, and he’s also my best friend,” says Brian Seidel, 35, of his younger brother of two years.
The duo hold their father, who started the business in 1987, in the same regard.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be my father,” Brian says. “To me, he was John Wayne. He was the ultimate role model.”
In Brian’s case, familiarity didn’t breed contempt, either.
In 2008, at the height of that decade’s dire economic recession, Brian asked if he could join American Property Group.
“I figured there would be no one better to work with than someone I idolized, and I was right,” he says. “Nowadays I sit at my desk and I have my dream job. I consider it a great honor to work here. It’s what rockets me out of bed each morning.”
Adam Seidel, too, underwent a bit of an epiphany before joining the family business. The year was 2011, and he was pursuing a career in the hospitality industry, in Orlando. His job meant working nights, weekends, holidays.
“I learned a lot, but I didn’t get to see my family as much as I wanted or do a lot of things,” he says.
After a request for a few days off was denied, Adam — who’d earned his Florida real estate license at 18 because, well, that’s what you do when you’re a Seidel — phoned his father at 12:30 a.m. Of course he was welcome at American Property Group, the voice on the other end of the line told him.
“I was a little nervous about the prospect at first, but I love working with my family. It’s changed my life for the better.”
These days, the brothers often go after listings together, as was the case recently for a piece of land set to become a Dunkin Donuts shop in Osprey. Adam and Barry Seidel also recently teamed up to sell a 50-acre tract in Venice on behalf of Venice Regional Hospital, a property that is on the market at $12.995 million.
“We collaborate a lot, and that really accelerates our thought process on a lot of things,” Adam Seidel says. “We’ll often talk something to death when it involves the business.”
“It’s just like it was growing up, sitting around the kitchen table,” says Brian. “We discuss everything.”
That said, the Seidels “pull no punches” when it comes to dealing with each other.
“You get the honest truth no matter how much you may not want to hear it,” Adam Seidel says. “I feel like my voice is always respected and heard, regardless of whether anyone’s agreeing with me.”
In terms of competition, though, both agree there is none — with each other.
“We pull each other over obstacles rather than put obstacles in the other’s way,” says Brian. “The way I look at it, and I believe Adam does, too, is that when I win, we all win, and visa-versa. We compete with ourselves only. From a business perspective, I think that gives us a competitive advantage.”
Not that the family patriarch, 72, has plans to retire anytime soon — though he and Leslye are planning and making more time for travel and hobbies.
“Barry always jokes that he’s going to die in the office,” Adam says.
Five years on, the Seidel brothers hope to have incorporated more technology into American Property Group, especially in the area of property management.
They also hope to open an office in either Manatee or Charlotte counties to complement their Sarasota base, and grow the business organically by adding new agents. Today, the company has five licenses agents and four other staff.
“I think we’re on a good path,” says Adam. “I’d like to keep the same trajectory.”
“I agree with Adam,” Brian says. “I’d like to see us expand our number of agents and offices, if we can keep the core of the business as it is, which is we deal in people’s dreams, and we help provide the physical space for them to occur.”