Bridging the Generation Gap in Family Business From Boomers to Millennials

The brokerage business has certainly changed over the years. So how does this family-run business stay on top?

The generation gap in the workplace today is becoming ever more challenging for employers and businesses alike. So how is this family-run corporation not only succeeding, but setting the bar for how it’s done?

The family team behind the success of Royal LePage Your Community Realty spans three generations — from Boomers to Millennials. Vivian Risi and her three children, Michelle, Julie and Justin, have a dynamic so rare that it’s catching the attention of many business communities and leaders, leaving many curious as to how they are bridging the generation gap.

Vivian Risi, president/CEO, began her career in the real estate industry in 1974. At a time when real estate was a male-dominant industry, Vivian learned early on the importance of differentiating herself and persevering through adversity. “I was determined to succeed, and I never lost sight of my vision,” Vivian says.

For 20 years, Vivian worked hard at building a successful career in sales. Customer service was always at the forefront of what she did and she thrived on being able to negotiate for her clients. A single mom of three children, Vivian recalls the challenges she faced but knew that the only way to create the future she wanted for herself and her family was to stay focused and work hard. She faced obstacles with perseverance and used her innate business sense to navigate her sales career. She maintained a passion for her clients while holding a bigger vision of one day creating a legacy for changing the landscape of real estate.

Vivian’s vision began to unfold as her three young children approached their teenage years. “Their needs were changing and so I knew it was time to take the next step in my career,” says Vivian. In 1994 Vivian took that next big step and purchased her first real estate office, consisting of 18 agents in Richmond Hill. “It was a big step for me, but one that I knew I needed and wanted to take,” Vivian recalls. During this time, Michelle, Julie and Justin began helping out at the office. “During their summer holidays, and on evenings and weekends, they would come into the office and help me organize files, answer the phones and distribute mail.” In fact, the children were a part of the process from the beginning, when they helped to come up with the name for the business: Your Community Realty. “The children understood my vision from the beginning, and when it came time to select a name, we all agreed that Your Community Realty was the perfect fit,” says Vivian.

As the children pursued their college and university degrees, they maintained connections with the brokerage, gaining experience in every facet of the company. “I can remember us working at the front desk and making every mistake possible,” Michelle laughs. “It was the only way to learn,” Julie adds. Each of the children worked in every capacity of the brokerage business — everything from front reception to back-end administration, from sales to management.

The brokerage business has certainly changed over the years. So how does this family-run business stay on top? Teamwork. “We each know our strengths and our differences are celebrated,” Justin says. Justin and Michelle both hold executive vice president positions within the company, yet each devotes their own expertise to specific areas of the business. Michelle is president of the Real Estate Academy™, a division of the company focused on providing education and training to the sales force. Julie started the New Home Division for the company and Justin is broker of record for Mortgage Loans Canada, a Dominion Lending franchise which offers mortgage services to the agents and their clients. With Vivian at the helm of the operation, they collectively focus their talents, skills and expertise on growing the brand as a team. They understand and harness their unique ability of representing and communicating with their respective generational counterparts. “Their early years in the company offered them the ability to weave their skills and talents into the business,” says Vivian. “Today, we embrace the generational differences while remaining focused on our core vision and values of customer service and innovation.”

We are excited to continue to innovate and expand our business and change the landscape of real estate. This is just the beginning

– Vivian Risi

Vivian and her family represent the three most relevant generations in today’s workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Instead of the weakening gap that most businesses are facing today, they bridge the gap by using those differences to create a powerhouse brokerage. “The secret to our success is first and foremost the foundation that was built by our mom. We embrace our individual styles and know that there is always room for growth and change,” Michelle says. “Our mom enables us to be creative and carry out her vision,” says Julie. “We meet weekly to listen to each other’s ideas and strategize on how to bring them forward,” Justin adds.

This year, Your Community Realty celebrates its 22nd year in business. It is the No. 1 franchise in Canada for Royal LePage and continues to dominate the local market share. With over 1,000 realtors and 12 locations, Your Community Realty services Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe. “We are excited to continue to innovate and expand our business and change the landscape of real estate. This is just the beginning,” Vivian says.

Vivian and her family possess a unique combination of generational strengths and unsurpassed passion, bringing real estate to Millennials and beyond.

PHOTOS courtesy of royal lepage your community realty

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