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Real estate brokers follow succession plan during booming market

Communication among family members is paramount in any transition, says Charlotte Hedge.

Mark Wemple. Monica Barth, Tom Hedge Sr., Charlotte Hedge, Robyn Sadlo and Tom Hedge Jr. with the The Hedge Team are having a busy 2021.
Mark Wemple. Monica Barth, Tom Hedge Sr., Charlotte Hedge, Robyn Sadlo and Tom Hedge Jr. with the The Hedge Team are having a busy 2021.
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Company: The Hedge Team did more than $20 million in total sales volume in 2020, Charlotte Hedge says. In the booming market, the team is more than halfway to that mark through the end of the 2021 first quarter.  

Succession plan: Charlotte and Tom Hedge, both 74, have been in the real estate business in Sarasota since 1992, and son Tom Jr., 50, became a partner around 20 years ago. For the past several years, the Hedge parents have work toward giving more and more control of their business to their son.

Charlotte’s goal from the outset has been to build a referral-based business that could be transitioned to the next generation while still providing her and Tom Sr. with a percentage of commissions for the long term, “like a pension plan,” she says. “Having a succession plan is monumental to me to be able to do that.”The Hedges remain in the process of putting together the formal paperwork for the succession plan for the Hedge Team, affiliated with Naples-based Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. In addition to Tom Jr., the team also includes Realtor Monica Barth. Tom Sr.’s cousin Robyn Sadlo has also recently joined the company and will be part of the official transition plan as well. “I love the business, but now I can pick and choose who I want to work with and what I want to do, which is wonderful,” Charlotte Hedge says. “But I’ll always be involved in the business. I’ll always be a consultant to the members of the team.”

Challenges: Communication is key when making this kind of transition, the real estate brokers say. “Communication about what your expectations are, what your hopes and dreams are,” Charlotte Hedge says. “That has always been my mantra — just talk, talk, talk. Tom Jr. and Monica and now Robyn understand what we’ve built and how we would like to see this come about. We’re going to leave them to make some choices, but we’ll also let them know we’re here for them to be a talking board, if you would. And they’re up for that.”

The senior Hedges have actually done this before. They had a commercial heating and air conditioning business when they previously lived in New Jersey that their middle son took over and still runs. “So we know what we need to do and to draw up so everyone is clear,” Charlotte Hedge says.

Although it’s been some time since they made that transition, Tom Sr. still talks weekly with son Jeff, offering advice and guidance about that business. “It’s ongoing,” Charlotte Hedge says.

It can sometimes be hard to separate family time from business time when working together. But Charlotte says running a business with family members provides a built-in level of trust that might take longer to develop between business associates who aren’t related. “We have confidence in each other,” she says.

Even so, it still takes time to show the next generation "how it’s done." Weekly team meetings have helped keep everyone on the Hedge Team informed about the business and any new developments and changes.

“Everybody now knows what’s happening, and everybody knows what they need to do when Tom Sr. and I are gone,” Charlotte Hedge says. “And I’ve finally gotten away from making a list. I used to have to make a page-long list of do this, do this. But that stopped about five years ago.”

What will the company look like in five years: Each of the Hedges have their individual strengths, Charlotte says, and she expects them to keep using their particular talents even as she and Tom Sr. keep pulling back from the business. Tom Sr., for example, excels at handling things like home inspections. Tom Jr. does all the team’s market analyses.

“We all have our different roles, and mine is the hunt,” she says. “When I know what somebody wants and what somebody is looking for, I love to go out and find it. We all have our little niche, and I think if we’re keeping that as long as we can, I’ll be happy about that.”



Click the links below to hear best practices from other families working through business succession and experts who have helped others.


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