Charles E. Schwartz Sr. and William D. Patterson were already seasoned veterans by the time Patterson-Schwartz & Associates was formed in 1961. They’d been in the business since the 1940s.
But the company offered customers another local advantage. Schwartz, who was born on the Old Post Farm in Newark, was a lifelong Delawarean. He knew the people, the market and the communities. Mr. Patterson, a Penn Graduate, had his local ties through marriage.
More than 50 years later, the company has grown from 11 associates and staff members to more than 450, and from one office – originally located at 10th and Washington Streets — to nine. The company now services the entire state of Delaware and parts of Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania.
Some things, however, have not changed. While many agencies founded around the same time have closed or joined mega-corporations with headquarters outside of the state, Patterson-Schwartz remains privately owned and rooted in Delaware.
A family affair
Patterson-Schwartz evolved from a firm owned by James Worrall, a Kennett Square broker interested in the Delaware market. Patterson and Samuel Hanby also worked with Worrall, and from 1955 to 1961, the firm was known as Hanby-Patterson and Schwartz.
When Patterson-Schwartz & Associates began in 1961, the founders emphasized the word “associates” to demonstrate that it was a collective effort, said Charles E. Schwartz II, who followed in his father’s footsteps in 1973. By the time he joined, the team had 37 people and a Milltown-area office, where he was based.
Schwartz isn’t the only family member to continue the legacy. Chris Patterson joined in 1977, and there are several real estate agents whose parents worked at the company.
Although now marketed as Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate, the company still considers its associates on equal footing, said Joseph Pluscht Jr., the current CEO & President, who has been with Patterson-Schwartz for more than 30 years. (Like Pluscht, many of the sales associates were raised in Delaware, and they are raising families here.)
Schwartz, who is now the chairman of the board, agreed. “The founders believed that the associates were the future and the source of growth for the company. We believe that to this day.”
New sales associates receive a key to symbolize access to any of the locations as well as to the leadership team, who are ready to help. “Our leaders have more than 200 years of collective experience with Patterson-Schwartz,” Pluscht said. “Because we don’t have a lot of corporate layers, we’re not big on titles.”
The convivial atmosphere makes it easy to support and educate sales associates, many of whom like Pluscht work their way up into leadership roles.
Married to this market
Because Patterson-Schwartz is independently owned and not a franchise, the company can swiftly adapt to local and national trends without waiting for approval from managers outside the area.
The company needn’t follow mandates set by people who’re unfamiliar with Delaware’s market, which is surprisingly complex for such a small state. “Delaware is our core market,” Pluscht said. “We have the pertinent, up-to-date information.”
For instance, parts of Delaware right now are experiencing a tight inventory in certain price ranges. Although many people shy away from putting their home on the market in winter, now might be the best time to reap a financial reward, he noted.
Not only does Patterson-Schwartz focus on Delaware, but it also contributes to its home state. With no franchise fees or income going to a corporation outside the state, Patterson-Schwartz can have a greater economic impact on its home state, Pluscht said.
In addition, Patterson-Schwartz established a charitable foundation in 2002 to support local causes and events. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed more than $1.2 million. Many of the beneficiaries are selected because they are important to one or more sales associates, such as Habitat for Humanity, Delaware Hospice, Faithful Friends and the Mary Campbell Center.
Patterson-Schwartz’s longevity and its ability to remain independent in the face of so many mergers in the industry is also due to its dedication to customer service.
Schwartz personally handles the client satisfaction survey that is distributed after each transaction. Collectively, the team most recently had a 98.7 percent rating when it came to meeting and exceeding expectations.
He calls the involved sales associates to go over the survey. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions,” he said. “We’re trying to learn something from each experience and reward people who do well.”
He also calls the respondents if they indicate that they’re willing to discuss anything further. Even so, many are surprised when he makes the call. “I want to talk to them about their experience,” he said.
Many of the respondents said that they chose Patterson-Schwartz because they’d been involved with the company or an agent in a prior transaction or that they were familiar with the company name. Some were referred by friends. “It’s a real testimonial to the ability of the salespeople and their knowledge of the local market,” he said.
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