RE/MAX by the Lake in One Word: Fan-freaking-tastic!


When nominating the clearly fun-loving team of RE/MAX by the Lake Realty in St. Joseph, the nominator wasn’t sure if the freshly-minted word of “fan-freaking-tastic” was really a single word or counted as three. At any rate, when asked to describe the company in 50 words or less, she used “fan-freaking-tastic,” and it essentially qualifies either way. In fact she still could have used another 47 to 49 words if she wanted to.

The essence of the pitch was simply that the staff at RE/MAX by the Lake works hard to make the office friendly, fun, professional, and productive. They strive to make every agent feel at home while being a resource for them when they need assistance, and every person who walks through the door is treated to the friendliness of their Office Manager/Receptionist and leaves saying how fun the office is. Keep in mind that while all of that is happening in the office, their agents are out making the team #3 in sales in Southwest Michigan (according the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors) among all of the real estate offices in SW Michigan, at the time of their nomination.

Fan-freaking-tastic.  Pretty amazing performance for a six year old company with just six actual employees.

Lars Petzke launched his RE/MAX franchise in 2013 with a business partner, and during the spring of 2015, his wife Liz joined him as an Office Manager. A year later, they expanded again, hiring Amelia as Transaction Coordinator.

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Last year, the spring of 2018, Liz moved fully into the role of Broker/Owner along with Lars, Amelia became the Office Manager, and a Transaction Coordinator and Director of Sunshine (Recruiting and Education) joined the team. This year, Liz and Lars added the position of Listing Coordinator to the office roster.

That’s the full team, because, while the office has grown to 20 real estate agents with room for many more, they are all independent contractors based at the RE/MAX by the Lake office, but are not employees of the firm.

The “fan-freaking-tastic” traits of the team are routinely prevalent. As the nominator tells us, “It feels really cliche, but we are definitely a ‘work hard, play hard’ group.  In between paperwork, phone calls, education, and making sure the office runs smoothly, we really enjoy each other and celebrate a job well done. As an office, we love to laugh, get together for events outside of the office, go golfing, and have a great time after all the work is done.”

The traits are readily evident when you realize that at RE/MAX by the Lake, family is always first and you can often find a child or two hanging out in the office helping mom or dad. If there is a play, a doctor’s visit, or field trip, it’s no big deal to step out and hang with your kid for the day at RE/MAX.

The goodwill arises when tough times prevail. When someone is having a rough day, a wicked cold, or is struggling with bigger issues; they actually send notes, flowers and Sunshine Baskets to cheer on another up and help each other get through the troubled times.

Core values are an important metric for the Moody on the Market Fifteen Under 15 winners. At RE/MAX by the Lake, those core values are summed up simply the mantra to: “Do the Right Thing.” The team believes wholeheartedly in ethical and moral behavior within the office as well as out in the community. They begin every business meeting with that reminder and end every business meeting with it as well. They will tell you, “Through honesty, transparency and ethical fortitude, we create lifelong clients and friends in the business. We may drink a little, swear a lot, and get rowdy, but at the end of the day, we all make sure that we treat each other with respect and focus on our core value of ‘Do the Right Thing.'”

Doing the right thing has certainly paid off, earning the RE/MAX by the Lake team a slot among the Moody on the Market Top 20 Places to Work in Southwest Michigan earlier this year, while last year they were named Broker/Owners of the Year 2018 from RE/MAX of Michigan. The team also considers it “award winning,” that fully 20 independent contractors choose to work with them daily.

Lots of small businesses talk about the ravages of recession, or physical and financial constraints that become challenges to overcome. For Team Petzke, the challenge is honestly, “Finding enough time to do all the awesome stuff we do.” When you add up the tasks of “helping our agents, working with clients, planning events, golfing, baking cookies for closings, answering phones, social media, attending conferences and workshops, celebrating closings, accomplishments, and goals attained, volunteering, singing karaoke in the office, developing education, and prepping for office meetings as among the things we do on a regular basis around here, how can you possibly fit all of that into one year and still find time to sleep?” Point taken. Challenge met!

RE/MAX by the Lake offers some core benefits including vacation time, flexible work scheduling, bonus money and training, but there are huge benefits to a team working to make a difference in the community. Liz and Lars lead by example. This year, they are really putting local communities first.  They have adopted several charities, and a portion of all of their sales goes directly to those organizations. Most of their agents and administrators have all selected charities that are close to their hearts to be a part of, and whether that’s in charitable giving, volunteering, or fundraising, everyone in the office is encouraged to help out the community.

Additionally, Lars is the Chairman of the St. Joseph Baseball Association, and several of his agents sponsor teams there. He is also on the St. Joseph City Parks board and the Southwest Michigan Realtors board.

Nicole, the team’s Director of Sunshine, volunteers with the Krasl Art Center and the Southwest Michigan Mini Maker Faire, and Carol, their Listing Coordinator, volunteers on the board of SAC-Sales Advisory Committee-for RE/MAX of Michigan.

The company engages employees of all levels to have a community impact on multiple fronts. This year, in January, they were encouraged to chose organizations to support, and the employees in the office give their time, talents, and funds to those organizations.

One of the office’s biggest charities supported is the REAL Help Foundation. That is an organization run by Realtors and those associated with the real estate market. In times of crisis, they provide short term, immediate help to families in Southwest Michigan, and they are are constantly seeking donations, attending golf outings and other fundraisers, and bringing families in need to the attention of the board.

Do the math. Fan-freaking-tastic — whether it’s one word or three — certainly adds up to a sizable impact for the community of Michigan’s Great Southwest, earning passage by the team at RE/MAX by the Lake into the 2019 Class of the Moody on the Market Fifteen Under 15.