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Nearly every real estate company in the nation felt the pinch of the last slump. But for one respected New Orleans-based company, it was part of a double whammy, coming as it did on the heels of Hurricane Katrina.

It might have been enough to spell disaster for a company with a lesser backbone, but for GARDNER, REALTORS®, an independent company with a family culture now in its fourth generation, it was a clear signal to hold tight and go back to its 70-year-old roots.

“We were forced to increase our operating efficiencies,” says the company’s vice president of Special Initiatives, Glenn “Chip” Gardner. “But Great Grandmother Gertrude Gardner, who was known locally as the ‘Grande Dame of Real Estate,’ founded this company in 1943 with a simple, three-part philosophy: Follow the Golden Rule; be a catalyst for positive change; and make your community a better place. That home-grown way of doing things, and our long history of integrity, reliability and unparalleled service, saw us through the tough times and positioned us for the new wave of growth we are experiencing today.”

The Gardner real estate family, under the executive team leadership of Barbara Blades, Norris Songe, and Sharon and Glenn Gardner—as well as their children, Chip and Crystal Gertrude Gardner—leads a sales force and support staff numbering 800-plus in 24 neighborhood offices. The company last year sold more residential units than any other company in the combined metro New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast market. It has expanded both its luxury home and asset management/REO service divisions, spiced up its marketing, and strategized technology and social media platforms that mark it as an industry innovator—all the while maintaining its branded reputation as the caring, locally-owned home team.