Running her own small businesses ever since she can remember, Betsy Pepine always found herself in one entrepreneurial role after another.
“I was doing things like a cake decorating business in high school and college and used to sell my art at craft shows on the weekends,” she said. “I’ve always been intrigued by having my own company, but it’s never been my primary source of income.”
While going to school for pharmaceutical marketing, Pepine and her class were given the chance to go and out in the field and gut old row houses in West Philadelphia.
“We rebuilt the home and then sold them to families in need,” she said. “It was a really rewarding experience for me and I was intrigued at how housing can make a change in the family’s trajectory.”
After moving from Philadelphia back home to Gainesville to raise her family, Pepine found there wasn’t as strong of a pharmaceutical industry in Florida. Inspired by the work she did in class, she took the leap to see if she could make it in real estate.
Nine years later, Pepine is the founder and CEO of Pepine Realty, a full service, independent brokerage. With office in Gainesville, St. Augustine, Orlando and Ocala, they offer an array of services from residential to commercial development, property management, title and mortgage.
Between their motivating core values and giving employees paid time off to volunteer to their work place Peloton bike and sponsored life building classes, it’s no surprise Pepine Realty is known for their company culture.
Pepine Realty’s eight core values are integrity, accountability, excellence, family impact, fun, balance and growth.
“You won’t see them on our walls because we don’t want people to read them, we want people to live them,” she said. “We want our clients and service providers to feel them when they walk through our doors. They’re all very important to use. They’re how we hire people and how we fire people. But we truly live them every day and I think that’s the basis of our culture.”
Keeping a Competitive Edge
Pepine sets her business apart from the rest in her market by providing value to her clients a few different ways.
First, is their focus on long-term relationships over transactions – even if it means advising a customer out of a sale.
“We look at our clients as if they were family and we give them the service and advice that we’d give to our family members. So, that might be counseling someone out of buying a house, which we’ve done many times,” she said. “If we feel that it’s not in their best interest, whether it’s a financial reason or an emotional reason, the last thing they need to do is go jump in and buy a house.”
“We’re not looking for a quick deal, were looking for a relationship. We establish trust and then we know they’ll feel compelled to share us with their friends and family.”
Since inception, Pepine Realty has implemented a multitude of innovative programs for their customers, centered around convenience.
“Several years ago, we introduced our Guaranteed Sale Program where, after three months of trying to sell a home, Pepine Realty will buy it,” she said. “Last year, we introduced the first Insta-Offer program in our market where we will give sellers a cash, as-is offer on their home to avoid the hassle of listing a home the traditional way.”
Pepine Realty also offers their Home Maintenance Program to help busy homeowners manage the maintenance that comes with owning a home as well as services to Airbnb and VRBO clients. Most recently, their new service is their Fix and Flip program where investors hire them to prepare their fixer-uppers for sale.
Looking toward the future, Pepine is excited to build up the agent base and managerial staff in her expansion offices along with their title and mortgage services.
What it Means to be an Honoree
When asked what being a 2019 Florida Companies to Watch Honoree meant to Pepine and her team, she said this award was different compared to the rest.
“We do get a lot of awards based on our production and those are great to get. But I’ve always told my agents, when we get awards not only based on our production but the impact we’re making in our community and state, those awards are so much meaningful to us than any other production award,” she said.
“This recognition means we’re making an impact, leaving a legacy and leaving the community a better place. I was telling somebody the other day that this one of the highest honors I think we’ve received because we’re being recognized for something more than just selling a lot of real estate.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
For Pepine, one of the best decisions she’s made along her entrepreneurial journey was welcoming in mentors and coaches to help guide her.
“The thing that’s made the biggest impact in my career is getting both mentors and coaches,” she said. “Get outside of the community in which you live in and find both regional and national coaches. It really changes your perspective and enables you to see your future in a way that you might not have been able to envision if you stayed localized.”
Notable Philanthropic Involvement
Making an impact and giving back to their community both in time and monetary donations is at the heart of Pepine Realty. This year, they created a non-profit 501c3 foundation called Pepine Gives, to make an even greater impact in their community and to provide affordable housing to at-risk families.
They also match $1000 per year and employee to their charity of choice and have adopted a Meals on Wheels route, delivering hot meals to the home-bound twice a month.