Running the family catering company and restaurant in Lake Worth, Florida, for about seven years gave Cathleen Smith the skills that would serve her well in her second career, which took root in what would become one of the most turbulent housing markets in the nation.
She got her real estate license in 1980, and opened a real estate franchise in Florida in 1992. It was later acquired by Coldwell Banker in 1995. In 2010, she was recruited to lead Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Connecticut & Westchester County, N.Y. In the three years she has held her current title, she has expanded Coldwell Banker’s Connecticut presence with six acquisitions of competing real estate firms.
Acquiring the competition was a trait learned in Florida, where the national housing crisis started a few years earlier and more acutely than in Connecticut, she said.
“You noticed good business leaders struggling to keep their doors open during this difficult time, but you also knew their business acumen and reputation was something that would blend well with your organization,” she said.
The same approach that worked in Florida works in Connecticut. “There are many reasons why a company chooses to affiliate with ours,” she said. “Meeting their needs and those of their agents is a key component. At the end it is a win/win for everyone involved.
In her current role, Smith oversees a company of more than 2,100 sales associates in 51 sales offices throughout Connecticut and Westchester County that accounted for over $4.7 billion in closed sales volume and more than 11,000 transactions in 2012.
She has served for years as a director of the National Association of Realtors, and previously served as vice president, secretary and treasurer of the Florida Association Realtors.
Smith is active in the nonprofit world as well. She oversees the Advisory Committee of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y. She recently took a leadership role in a $40,000 sponsorship commitment to the Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut.