Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc., a leading full-service regional real estate company in the Greater Philadelphia area, was recently named one of the Top 40 Best Places to Work by Philadelphia Business Journal. The company ranked 15 out of 156 in the magazine’s inaugural survey.“I have been around the real estate brokerage industry my entire professional career in a variety of real estate brokerage operations, and I believe we work well because we have a very high level of professionalism melded with fun,” says Steven Gartner, president, Metro Commercial, Conshohocken, PA. Headquartered in both Conshohocken and Mount Laurel, NJ, Metro Commercial is involved in the leasing and sale of retail properties and represents the expansion of national and regional retailers. This highly ranked company was noted for its work/life balance; respect and caring for employees; recognition of accomplishments; a sense of employee empowerment; good teamwork and team spirit; and commitment to community service. With more than 60 employees, Metro Commercial was noted for the strength of its benefits and programs. Its ranking was based on positive evaluations submitted by the staff members. The organization attracts and retains employees through a combination of benefits, working conditions, and its overall positive company culture. In the Tri-State area, the company serves as the exclusive tenant representative for dozens of major retail chains – including Sports Authority, Circuit City, Target, and PETsMART.Although real estate transactions can be trying, Gartner stresses that his business creates enthusiasm and excitement. “I believe a real estate transaction should be a happy transaction; it involves a growing retailer and a new real estate development, so it is positive,” says Gartner.Gartner encourages his employees to embrace that enthusiasm. Metro Commercial also fosters mutual respect among its associates by having frequent company events. “We are a company that socializes together; we travel together. The people [here] are friends,” says Gartner.Metro Commercial strives to have an “open door” work environment. In an industry known for competition and secrecy, Metro Comm-ercial’s corporate culture encourages trust and teamwork. “In a lot of brokerage [firms], you are left to fend for yourself. Here, we watch each other’s backs,” says Gartner.This collaboration gives the company’s clients the best in customer service. “Our clients get a great sharing of information and resources, and it also allows us to share ideas internally,” says Gartner. Metro Commercial distinguishes itself by applying a variety of personal experiences to tasks and encouraging a collaboration of ideas.To maintain this corporate culture, the company holds social events and encourages its agents to stay in close contact with one another. “If one person hears about something that would benefit someone else, we care and we share,” says Gartner.The best way to keep on top of market trends is for a company to do a lot of transactions. In real estate, clients benefit from a busy brokerage firm. “So if we did a lot of transactions without sharing that information, it would not be useful for our clients,” says Gartner. Details-oriented, Gartner oversees marketing, development, and new business creation. Gartner links his company’s success to its great corporate culture and actively promotes Metro Commercial’s winning attitude.The fast-paced world of real estate transactions demands that brokerage firms raise the bar in terms of technology and presentation quality. Metro Commercial relies heavily on portable technology, such as PDAs, digital cameras, and cell phones, and has recently invested heavily in its office technology infrastructure, such as state-of-the-art graphics software.“We cannot affect the economy and interest rates and world trends, but we try to adapt to them. Our business, by definition, is reactionary; we cannot set the tone,” says Gartner.However, Metro Commercial is setting the tone by showing that a positive corporate culture translates into business success.Regina Raiford Babcock ([email protected]) is senior editor at Buildings magazine.