Good instincts and business savvy are reliable achievement indicators. Add great leadership skills, unshakeable faith and a commitment to work-life balance, and the recipe for success is complete.
Meet Tom Tognoli, co-founder, president and CEO of Intero Real Estate Services, the Silicon Valley, Calif.-based powerhouse, which in the 12 years since its launch, has become the regional market leader, on pace at press time to close out 2015 with some 12,000 units closed and nearly $10 billion in revenue.
“Our name, Intero, means ‘whole and complete’ in Italian,” Tognoli explains, “and that has been our goal from the outset—a business founded on helping people be the best they can be in all aspects of their life—agents who are not only the finest in their field, but who are happy and fulfilled human beings.”
For Tognoli, who in his own lifetime has had to deal with the challenges of ADHD, dyslexia and health issues related to unhealthy living, finding and establishing faith as the cornerstone of his efforts did more than turn his own world around. It gave him insight, purpose and determination.
Today, the Bay Area native writes a blog, Monday Morning Mojo, devoted to life lessons and inspiration, distributed to more than 25,000 subscribers around the world. He oversees the firm’s charitable Intero Foundation, supported by a mix of agents, employees, clients and others, which to-date, has raised over $3.5 million and helped more than 130 local nonprofit agencies serving the many needs of children. His days are firmly focused on what he calls his F5—faith, family, friends, fitness and finances—and still he channels his time and energy into running a thriving business.
A Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices affiliate, acquired by HomeServices of America in the spring of 2014, Intero and its 17 offices, 60 franchise locations and 2,200 agents are headquartered in the technology mecca of Silicon Valley, serving communities from the Napa Valley/Sonoma wine country to the Carmel coastline, as well as markets in Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, Southern California and as far away as Texas, Colorado and Tennessee. Yet the enviable footprint is only part of the reason for the company’s great success.
“By the time we were acquired, our four owners had amassed over 100 years of industry experience between us,” Tognoli notes. “In addition, we were focused on a culture of mentoring and coaching, convinced that the firm’s success was inevitable if we inspired our agents to seek growth and fulfillment in their personal lives, as well as in their profession.”
Tognoli believes it is the unique company culture, augmented by Intero’s innovative roots and a true understanding of their customer base that drives the firm’s escalating success.
While Intero represents buyers and sellers in every price range, high-end properties are plentiful.
“We are fortunate to be based in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley region where, despite the dot.com disaster of 2002—the same year Intero was established, by the way—and the downturn of 2008, the average sales price in our primary market ranges from over $1 million to over $15 million,” he says.
The prevalence of high-end listings led to the recent launch of Intero Prestigio International, a brand designed to showcase the firm’s luxury home portfolio.
Operated under the auspices of Alain Pinel, who founded Alain Pinel REALTORS® in Northern California, and has guided other leading real estate companies in the United States and Western Europe, Intero Prestigio International is committed to providing its high-end clientele with an elite level of representation and exclusive global marketing expertise.
“Alain understands that you can’t market extraordinary homes with ordinary means,” Tognoli says. “His highly trained agents are expertly preparing these homes for sale, managing unique buyer and seller expectations, and tailoring the marketing of these special properties to a specific worldwide audience.”
The care with which the new operation launched is typical of the Intero way.
“Our function as leaders is to understand and anticipate the marketplace and to be looking at the future,” Tognoli says. “The value proposition of the real estate professional is constantly changing. Our commitment is to educate, re-educate and equip our agents to remain a relevant force—to understand the market and be the advisor and financial consultant our clients need to make the smartest real estate decisions in any real estate environment.”
The current environment is encouraging, Tognoli says.
“The real estate market in the Bay area pretty much follows the S&P 500,” he notes, “so we keep a careful eye on the financial markets. Mortgage lending rates are still favorable, and the economic outlook is steady. Also, properties in our area dropped an average of only 10 to 15 percent during the downturn—not nearly as much as they dropped in other areas—and the region recovered faster than many others. As a result, property values here today are two times what they were in 2008, and the market is thriving.”
Even during the worst of the downturn, Tognoli says Intero’s culture and leadership—based on personal growth—kept agents optimistic and determined.
“In fact,” he says, “during the recession, we recruited massive numbers of agents. Many were scared and struggling, looking for the kind of leadership and coaching that lifts and encourages and fosters a fulfilling way of life.”
Andy Wong, a top Intero agent in the company’s Los Altos office, told a local reporter he credits Tognoli’s commitment to his F5 principle as one of the reasons he joined Intero.
“I wanted to follow an authentic leader who works every day to be a better version of himself in every aspect of life,” Wong says. “Every time I see Tom, I feel energized and inspired.”
If working to become a better version of himself is a top priority for Tognoli, it is clearly the same priority that drives the company he leads.
“Everything we do at Intero revolves around being the best you can be,” he explains. “I’ve been through three cycles of boom and bust in my 25 years in real estate, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that F5 sustains us and becomes the underpinning of every good thing we achieve. At Intero, we prime our agents to aim for excellence in real estate as in every aspect of their lives—and their success in business is our reward.”
For more information, visit www.interorealestate.com.