Photographs courtesy William Raveis.
In Kent Hanley’s country-chic office, green toy soldiers dominate the landscape.
They line up strategically on the window sills. They freeze mid-march on table tops. They stand, guns drawn, on top of desk drawers.
They are no mere hobby. Each soldier represents someone he’s recruited for the team that is William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance in Shelton.
Hanley has been with the Raveis family for 29½ years. Hired by William “Bill” Raveis himself, he now works closely with Raveis’ sons Ryan, who heads up the mortgage side of the business, and Chris, managing partner and executive vice president. What has drawn Hanley to the company and the Raveises are their family values, he says, and a competitive edge that makes those who run the company restless about staying still.
“If you don’t like change, this is not the organization for you,” says Hanley, the general manager and executive vice president of sales in Connecticut. “Don’t ask us to sit here and maintain something. We’d all be bored.”
It’s clear you can take the boy out of Indianapolis, but you can’t take Indianapolis – or at least the Indianapolis 500 – out of the boy. Hanley has adopted the Constitution State as his home, but he still has a Midwesterner’s love of car racing.
When he isn’t overseeing the Raveis firm’s Connecticut sales operation, he’s in the garage of his rural Newtown home, working on drag-race cars. “My wife knows where to find me.”
Hanley’s wife, Beckie, manages Raveis’ Greenwich office. They met at work, brought together by a 40-year-old company that started in Greenwich but has expanded into the ninth largest of its kind in the U.S., with 108 offices and 3,500 agents in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties, Manhattan, Long Island and Massachusetts, among other Northeast locales. It’s a lot of territory to cover but not for those whose motors run fast.
By the time Hanley was 8, his parents were throwing him Indianapolis 500-themed parties. He was racing and working on go-karts by middle school and spent his high school days working at a gas station and learning to race cars. Today, he’s a member of a competitive league for drag racing, the form of racing where the cars are super fast and the tracks super short. He prefers drag racing, he says jokingly, because he never learned how to turn well.
His wife knows that racing gets in your blood and so she doesn’t give him much grief for spending his free time leaning over the engine of cars and tinkering with the mechanics. That he participates in drag races allows her to minimize the amount of time she has to worry about his safety. “I can hold my breath for seven seconds,” she tells him.
The couple has four children from previous relationships, now scattered across the country. Hanley says he learned the strategy of keeping a family together from his grandparents: He bought a home on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the hope of enticing the younger set to visit when they are on vacation or in-between college semesters.
That liveliness kept Hanley moving east after he graduated from the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Ind. He met William Raveis through the one friend he had locally who was into the drag racing scene. (He’s since learned that there are plenty of racers in the Northeast if you know where to look for them.)
In his early days at Raveis, Hanley worked on the mortgage end in the lending division, went to the real estate side and then created a repairs and improvement company and a property management one as well. As he took on new roles at Raveis, he thrived amid the ’80s recession and adjusting to the East Coast. All the while, his admiration for his boss grew.
“I think what is impressive about Bill is he’s a forward-thinking, visionary type individual.”
When the company had a tough stretch during the market troubles of the 80s, they emerged more nimble and prepared to handle future dips. Raveis told Hanley and other executives, “We’re never going to be in that position again.”
When Raveis was in his 50s, he was making arrangements to ensure the next generation’s involvement and the company’s preparedness for future crises.
Raveis now has six grandchildren all of a young age. “He’s already looking at which ones will be involved in the company,” Hanley says.
What instills his loyalty and that of other long-term employees in the company is the understanding that the brokers and associates are its lifeblood, he says. Raveis has been named one of the best places to work for employees for several years since the designation was started. The company is able to hire people who have flexible, collegial personalities and share its innovative approach. That, Hanley says, is what makes the company successful and also a pleasure to work for.
“We don’t have a lot of red tape. We aren’t very corporate,” he says, adding that they still have a country approach to certain aspects, like marketing in newspapers.
Says the Indiana racer, “I mean we are just Connecticut Yankees.”
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Al N. Filippone has been cited as an expert real estate trainer and marketer of fine properties. Al’s accomplishments and market insights have been documented in numerous print media, including The New York Times’ Sunday real estate section. Al is a licensed broker in both Connecticut and New York. After a distinguished real estate career as a broker and senior vice president for William Raveis Real Estate, Al founded Al Filippone Associates in 2003. Consisting of 30 sales specialists in Fairfield, Westport, Darien and Greenwich, the group has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal as the most successful real estate team in Fairfield County, the state of Connecticut and all of New England. A nationally recognized boutique, Al Filippone Associates provides superb service by leveraging its array of talented sales specialists, a strong support staff, an in-house social media specialist, an in-house staging service and other technological resources.
Top property: 581 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield, 9,661 square feet, $7.485 million
Always thinking outside the box, Michelle raises the standards for all in the industry and has been recognized by Forbes, The New York Times and other publications as an innovative leader and is ranked in the top half of the top 1 percent of Realtors in the United States. Her unique marketing technique and innovative advertising, along with her uncompromising integrity, dedication to her clients and impeccable reputation for quality and results has helped obtain top dollar for her clients in her 26 years and more than $1 billion in sales. She cares about her clients and the communication channels are clear. She and her team of licensed professionals are dedicated to making the consumer’s experience the best it can be.
Top property: 35 Kettle Creek Road, Weston, 14,000 square feet, $5.850 million
For 10 consecutive years, Donna Beretta, sales vice president, has been the number one producing sales agent in the William Raveis Westport office, representing clients throughout lower Fairfield County. William Raveis has honored Donna for being a Top Ten Producer company-wide every year since 2003. A graduate of Brown University, Donna spent 12 years in institutional sales on Wall Street before moving to Westport, her home for 18 years. A charter member of William Raveis’ Chairman’s Elite Club, Donna has closed more than $250 million in real estate transactions since 2002. She is pleased to answer any and all real estate valuation and market questions.
Top property: 19 Woods End Lane, Weston, 10,000 square feet, $1.999 million