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Front Page - Friday, May 24, 2019

Real Estate Partners gets purposeful new look

Real Estate Partners Chattanooga East features a new open design office. Pictured from left are Sue Shaw, Samantha Shaw, Whitney Harvey, Adam Joyce, Josh Wilson, Hunter Edgemon, Ann Marie Cardinale, Christa French, Paula McDaniel, Wendy Lawhorn, Kristen Hardy, Blake Stewart and Justin Tate. - Photograph provided

As Diane Burke gazed across the cluster of cubicles at Real Estate Partners Chattanooga East, she realized she had work to do.

The newly appointed managing broker of the Shallowford Road office wanted her agents to be able to collaborate and support each other, but with everyone sequestered in tiny, isolating spaces, the place was as quiet as a church on Monday morning.

Worse, the drab surroundings had a dampening effect on her mood. “It really was a rainy day in here,” she says. “There was no color.”

As someone who has sold her share of homes, Burke knew the importance of attractive, functional spaces. So, she rolled up her sleeves and spearheaded a remodel that has brought the office in line with her vision.

“I believe in people seeing each other and being able to interact,” she points out.

Where cubicles once stood in defiant opposition to agent interaction, there’s now breathing room for agents to meet and talk. Realtors can still tend to their businesses on the newly purchased desks and tables that occupy the space, but they do so in a more spacious and pleasing environment.

Improvements beyond the work space include agent lockers, a video booth for producing marketing materials and a newly refurbished conference room for meeting with clients.

One of Burke’s favorite new features is the quote board, which is hung on the wall of the revitalized work space. One week, Conrad Hilton was the resident sage.

“Success seems to be connected with action,” he encouraged in letters scribbled in black marker across the white board. “Successful people keep moving; they make mistakes but they don’t quit.”

Burke is pleased with the results of the remodel. “Everyone loves it. I’m hearing agents ask each other for their opinions on different matters and helping each other out.”

The 15-year real estate professional created a niche for just herself at the front end of the work space. From there, she manages her personal real estate business, nurtures her rookie agents and supports her veterans.

Burke became the managing broker of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga East last fall when Sue Shaw stepped down from the role. It was the natural evolution of a career that began as a kernel in the back of Burke’s mind when she was a Chattanooga teenager.

“My grandmother owned a real estate brokerage,” she says. “I watched her work and thought I might try it someday.”

Although Burke cleaned open houses for her grandmother, her full-time gig was McDonald’s. She started working for the restaurant when she was 16 and slowly worked her way up the ladder from flipping burgers to business consultant.

Although Burke liked helping McDonald’s owners improve their profitability, she and her firefighter husband had a young daughter and she was traveling for work four to five days a week across a broad territory.

So, when McDonald’s shuttered the Nashville office at which she was working, Burke knew “someday” had finally arrived.

A seasoned workaholic from her restaurant days, Burke hit the ground running with GMAC Real Estate’s East Brainerd office (now Berkshire Hathaway).

“I was in the office every day, learning and picking the brains of the other agents or my broker,” she recalls. “I did open houses every Sunday, took floor calls whenever I could and wrote a development plan that specified what I needed to learn to be successful.

“For example, when I needed to learn what to do during a listing appointment, I called other agents for help.”

Burke’s backbreaking efforts to bring in business paid off. She became a multimillion-dollar producer her first year and continued to increase her sales with each new year as she focused on first-time homebuyers and clients who were relocating to the Chattanooga area.

Last August, Burke joined Shaw at Real Estate Partners Chattanooga East, eager to work for company owner and president Darlene Brown.

“Darlene is tremendously professional, very good at what she does and a good role model,” she says.

Brown says Burke’s combination of specific skills, talents and traits enable her to excel as a managing broker. “She’s very business-minded but has great people skills, too. She’s strong and no nonsense when she needs to be but also very nurturing.

“That’s tough to find in one person, and we’re fortunate to have her in this management and leadership position.”

Burke is working hand in hand with Brown to achieve the latter’s goals for the company’s East office. (Real Estate Partners Chattanooga has three locations: Downtown, East and Signal Mountain.) These include providing the leadership, training and support that allows its agents to grow their respective businesses and continually evolve and deepen their education and skill set.

“We’re working to have growth from within and tutelage from Diane as a successful real estate professional who continues to grow her personal business,” Brown continues. “Learning by example from someone who ‘walks her talk’ is empowering.”

In closing, Brown says Burke is well on her way to taking ownership of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga East.

“She’s cultivating a strong, positive company culture there, and the sense of pride in the office and our company is tangible from the moment you walk in the door,” she says. “Partnership in all aspects is a fundamental part of our company, and Diane is putting that into practice.”