When she joined Daniel Gale as a real estate agent in 1975, there were sales offices in Huntington and in Cold Spring Harbor, and fewer than a dozen people working for the company, recalls Pat Petersen.
”Today we have 30 offices and over a thousand salespeople, and probably a support staff of close to 180 people,” says Petersen, now the president and chairman of the board of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.
Founded in 1922 as a mom-and-pop real estate and insurance agency, Daniel Gale has over the years morphed into a corporation with $5 billion in annual sales, expanding into Queens in 2014, and in 2022 — its centennial year — opening three offices in Brooklyn.
DANIEL GALE, A LOCALLY OWNED GLOBAL COMPANY
Distinct and apart from other agencies, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty is still locally owned and operated. “Even though with Sotheby’s we have a global presence, all decisions are made in our headquarters right there in Cold Spring Harbor,” notes Petersen.
A tight-knit corporate structure combined with keen insight into global market trends allows the company to quickly pivot and respond to changes in the marketplace.
“We run the company the same way we would if we were two offices as opposed to 30: It’s still very much a personal business to us,” says Petersen.
In the seventies, Daniel Gale became one of three Long Island affiliates of Sotheby’s, a brand synonymous with luxury and distinction.
“But we very quickly became the number one affiliate of Sotheby’s International Realty in the world,” notes Petersen. “We did that by generating the most revenue for Sotheby’s. It really put them on the map on Long Island and it helped put us on the map in places other than Long Island.”
While selling many luxury market homes with an average sales price of over $1 million — higher than any of its competitors – 70 percent of all sales are below a million dollars.
“Yes, we service the high end of the market,” says Deirdre O’Connell, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty’s chief executive officer. “But our bread and butter is under a million dollars. And you deserve that level of luxury service, no matter how much your home is worth.”
PART OF THE FABRIC OF THE COMMUNITY
As part of the 2022 centennial commemoration, the company started an official foundation.
In terms of time and money, company employees have always been benefactors to the many communities they represent. Now, the Daniel Gale Foundation helps consolidate corporate giving to make a greater impact.
Geographically, the company is spread out, from Queens and Brooklyn in the west to Westhampton, Shelter Island, Mattituck, Cutchogue and Greenport in the east.
“We needed to be able to have a committee made up of agent representatives, as well as some corporate representatives, who can discuss the requests we get during the year and also to really support our agents in their grassroots efforts,” says Petersen.
In giving, as in business, the organization sticks to the oft-repeated motto of the founder’s son, Kent Gale: “Always do the right thing.”
“That is very, very much what we do,” Petersen says.
AND NOW, FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS
One of the advantages of having 100 years under its belt is that the company has experienced many challenging markets, from the Great Depression to two world wars to a global pandemic, notes O’Connell.
“Through each of those experience we have learned,” says O’Connell.
That wealth of experience “means that whatever the future holds in real estate, we know that we can navigate through it.” During the pandemic, the company adapted by showing homes virtually.
“We had the first and largest virtual open house weekends with over 150 homes available for people to view virtually,” O’Connell says.
With the erratic trading on Wall Street, it’s hard to predict what the next six months will look like, but O’Connell feels “confident that we have the experience to continue to adjust how we do business to reflect the times in which we live.”
Though the company recently opened an office in Bay Shore and plans to open another somewhere between that south shore community and its Long Beach branch, the goal of Daniel Gale has never been to be the biggest, but to continue providing excellent service.
“The future isn’t about just changing,” O’Connell says. “It’s about bringing who you are and the fabric and culture of what the company is forward as we continue to grow and utilize more and more of the tools and technologies of the day.”
This was the cover story for Behind The Hedges inside the Long Island Press’ June issue. Read the digital edition here.