Real estate may be about the relationship with buyer or seller, but for Dixie Ewing's team it's also about the relationship among realtors.
With about 40 years in real estate herself, Ewing leads an Edina Realty office with her son, Tom Hrastich, daughter-in-law Renae Hrastich, grandson Nolan Hrastich and his girlfriend, Amanda Dwyer.
The five-member, three-generation team prides itself on developing relationships with their clients, relying on one another's strengths and doing whatever is necessary to make their clients' home purchase or sale a success.
"We're not after being No. 1; we're after being the best," Ewing said.
Ewing said she and the other four members of her team complement each other well. Their generational and personality differences strengthen the entire team.
"What is so beautiful about our team is we all work together," she said. "We are not a pyramid ... we support each other."
In turn they can support their clients.
"It just works so nicely between the five of us we can meet an of our clients' needs," Renae Hrastich said.
Ewing got her start in the business with Ruth Kohlhaas Realty, a small company of four in St. Paul that did well in the area.
"Woodbury back then was like 8,000 people," Ewing recalled.
Ewing later joined Edina Realty, the broker she's been with since 1983, but she still remembers the lessons she learned from Kohlhaas.
"We were taught with Ruth that customer was prime and premier and the king," she said. "We worked until they were happy with their choices."
Tom Hrastich has worked with Ewing for 18 or 19 years. His wife joined them about 15 years ago. Dwyer has been with the team for a while, Ewing said, and Nolan Hrastich joined the group recently, comprising the third generation in the family business.
They focus on Woodbury but work the entire Twin Cities area.
"We go wherever our clients need us to go," Renae Hrastich said.
Ewing recalled when her territory spanned the entire east metro from New Brighton to Apple Valley. But as Woodbury has grown, much of their business is in their hometown.
They all are full-time realtors committed to the business. It's not a side job, they said.
"We're fully engaged in this process," Renae Hrastich said.
All five work with buyers and sellers. It helps to know what buyers are thinking when you're talking to a seller, she said.
The real estate business has changed over the years. The process is faster, transactions can happen quickly.
"People want communication, they want to hear back from you immediately," Renae Hrastich said. The value of their team is that they can respond to immediate requests.
Still, even amid the speed of texting and online services, "people still need that personal connection," Renae Hrastich said.
It's important to meet with clients and talk to them on the phone.
"We just have a real strong support on the higher level and then when we get into our team — people are jealous of what we have and our success is that we work together," Ewing said.
Renae Hrastich said real estate can be challenging. It's hard to build business as a new agent, in part due to the costs and the market inconsistencies.
When times are good they can be really good, Ewing said, but other times aren't as good. They weathered the great recession, a difficult five-year period that highlighted the importance of living within their means, Renae Hrastich said.
"You support each other in the good times and the bad," she said.
Roughly 80 percent of their business is made up of returning clients or direct referrals. Ewing said they also "work the stages," meaning they sell a home for someone, then help the move into a townhome and later into an assisted-living facility.
They enjoy being family in business together.
"We're happy and we're having fun," Renae Hrastich said.
Ewing's family moved to Woodbury in 1977, before the city's explosive growth. She got involved in community organizations first, then started working in real estate. She helped to launch the Woodbury Community Foundation and is chair of the board of directors.
"Woodbury is such a wonderful place to live, work and play," she said.