Real estate is one of the driving forces of the Martha’s Vineyard economy. The Martha’s Vineyard Times asked writer Karla Araujo to speak to several real estate professionals about their business. This is the second in a series of question and answer conversations.
Q: How did you begin your career as a real estate professional?
Lisa Stewart, owner/broker, Lighthouse Properties: I came to the Vineyard after college in 1983 and thought I’d get my resume together. Instead I never left. I had worked for a painting company a couple of summers prior to that, then worked with Gerry Conover helping to renovate the Charlotte Inn and other old Edgartown houses until 1986.
I started my own painting company specializing in house restoration. This was during the boom years and there was also lots of new construction. I met Bruce Stewart, [now] my husband, in 1987 and married the following year.
After we started a family in 1990, I decided that working in old houses with lead paint wasn’t a healthy job. Bruce is a builder and I had always been interested in houses, so making the transition to real estate seemed natural. We wanted to buy and sell properties, so that’s what we did.
Neal Stiller, broker/office manager, Cronig’s Real Estate: After college I worked for a year in house painting and another in a supermarket in Brockton. I got my real estate license and set a modest goal for my first year. I earned $7,500 in 1982, then switched firms because I thought I could do better with another company. I was right and I’ve been with Cronig’s 28 years now.
Art Smadbeck, partner/broker, Priestley Smadbeck and Mone Real Estate: I got my license long before I came to the Vineyard. I entered the real estate business when I was 18 and living in New York City and stayed in the business on and off in my early twenties. Then I moved to Pennsylvania and got into the coal business. My mother was involved in real estate on the Island and was thinking of shutting down her business. I sold my coal company and moved here in 1989 after starting a family. We worked together for 11 years until 2001 when she retired and Bob Mone joined me.
Alan Schweikert, owner/broker, Ocean Park Realty: I started in real estate on the Island in the early 1970s when I was recruited to manage the condominiums at Mattakeesett. I learned to sell them, then went back to Boston that winter. Peter Rosbeck Sr., a big builder on the Island at the time, asked me to get my real estate license and come back to help him sell land in Sengekontacket and in Island Grove, two new communities. I opened Ocean Park Realty in 1979 after we finished those projects.