This spring, Beachcomber approached Jerry Sullivan and Century 21 Blue Marlin to be a part of a series of real estate articles providing experienced realtors’ perspectives on frequently asked questions and market issues here on the Emerald Coast.
Jerry jumped right in with insightful and honest answers to help buyers, sellers and vacationers in their search for the perfect property in our area. We found out that while writing these articles, Jerry and his team were also in the process of one of the largest real estate acquisitions in the history of Northwest Florida—a merger of Blue Marlin with real estate giant Pelican Real Estate. This combined the young and growing Blue Marlin with a 22-plus year firm that has led the way in real estate sales on the coast through the ‘90s and the turn of the century.
This is huge news. With the addition of 13 new offices, more staff, more travel and adding more busy hours to your already crazy, hectic life, our first question is… Should we say congratulations or good luck?
Both. It’s really is both. It was a situation where we were in a growth pattern. We had several opportunities come along, but the culture of the offices just wasn’t right. Then Bill Smith, the owner of Pelican, comes along. Bill was wanting to focus more heavily on his current real estate developments across the Panhandle, while still having some involvement on the real estate side. And he needed to be less hands-on in the day-to-day operations. It was just a perfect situation for everyone.
How long does a merger of this magnitude take?
We started talks with Bill in mid-July and closed the deal in September, so it was fairly fast. We immediately felt synergy. His handshake was worth more than the actual signed contract, and everything fell together quicker than any of us would have thought. The most important part to all of us was that our companies operated the same way, focusing on helping the customer needs and the agents, therefore making more sales. We were both operating in many of the same markets—it just gives us a better opportunity to participate on the ultimate level in all these markets.
What do you see five years down the line?
Continued growth. Two years ago, we partnered with Century 21, who have totally changed the perception of the “Gold Jackets” and reinvented themselves to once again lead the global real estate industry. We are still local, yet we added the connection with the most recognized name in the business, and it has been a great partnership. I see the real estate market itself continuing to grow over the next five years, and Blue Marlin Pelican growing at the same time.
So three to four years from now, can we expect to hear of another merger?
Amazingly, we are already there. We continue to entertain that growth aspect, and have had others come to us with a desire to join us but they were not the right fit. It is very important in any business venture we do, for it to match our culture.
You’ve used the word culture several times. How do you define culture?
I define it as a team atmosphere—team members giving back to our community, each agent caring most about the customer and being a part of the team, but still making it fun to come to work. Enjoying where you work and what you do. I just feel that has been so important to our growth and our continued growth. And if we lose that, we have failed.