(L.-r.) Neighborhood News’ Gary Nager, with Doug Loyd and Kristy Darragh of Florida Executive Realty

When I first met Kristy Darragh in 1995, she was a relatively new agent with Florida Executive Realty (FER). Since 1992, or two years before I purchased the Neighborhood News with a former partner, FER has been operating out of what was once called the “Tampa Palms Information Center.”

At that time, Kristy bought one 1/8-page ad, sold the one house in the ad and called me to say she was buying a full-page ad with us. She’s been on our back cover of every New Tampa issue ever since.

“I’m also going to tell my boss, Doug Loyd, that he should buy a full-page ad, too,” she said. And, the rest of that story is history. Part of that history is that FER is the real estate office that we named, back in 2000, as our “Advertiser of the Millennium.”

Fast forward about a quarter of a century. FER has grown from just that one office and two people — Doug (who actually opened the office with former partner John Zielenbach) and his now-VP/general manager Michelle Weinhold (affectionately called “Red” by many in the office) — to six offices and 200 agents and staff. In addition to helping buyers and sellers of homes, FER today also offers full-service property management, mortgage and title services and even new construction services.

I sat down with Doug and Kristy recently to not only write this story, but also to do a WCNT-tv/NeighborhoodNewsOnline.net Video Business Feature about the expansion and tell more about FER and its rich history.

The building which is home to FER today — and which, rumor has it, was built in about 30 days — was one of the first two constructed in Tampa Palms back in 1986.

“This building was here before Tampa Palms Country Club, before Tampa Palms Elementary and definitely before any homes or shopping centers,” Doug says. “They were just starting to build the first subdivisions in Tampa Palms — Ashmont, Coventry and Canterbury.”

Through it all, the building has held up pretty well, but FER kept outgrowing it.

So, shortly before Kristy bought into FER as Doug’s partner 16 years ago, a second floor was added to the original 3,200-sq.-ft. building, but despite several interior re-dos since then to accommodate the office’s growing staff, Doug and Kristy have been talking about expanding and upgrading it.

Well, with Kristy and Doug, talk usually becomes action, and so today, the Tampa Palms office has been expanded by about 1,200 sq. ft. inside, and a beautiful patio and garden area (perfect for special events and even weddings that is dedicated to the memory of former FER Realtor Mark Stern) have been created outside. And, the entire building has received a wi-fi and wiring upgrade.

And, while Doug is thrilled to finally have a legitimate office, Kristy is proudest of the new “virtual agent” office that is adjacent to the new conference room.

“Because everything is online today,” she says, “agents don’t have to work 9-to-5 anymore. So, we created a space where agents from all six of our offices can stop in, plug in and then get going again.”

Doug adds, “It’s hard to believe we’ve been in business this long and haven’t had a proper conference room. But maybe, the most popular thing we’ve built is the patio. And, Phase 2 of the expansion will be to redo the rest of the existing office to match this new look.”

Still Truly Local…

Doug says that despite the fact that there are many real estate companies with offices in every U.S. state, “real estate, by definition, is still a truly local business.”

Kristy adds, “And, while Tampa Palms is still the mother ship for us, I have listings and have sold homes throughout New Tampa, Wesley Chapel and beyond. Doug has had a vision for this company and it’s working.”

Part of Doug’s vision has been to duplicate what he did in Tampa Palms, as FER’s Westchase and Fishhawk Ranch offices also are in the former community centers/information offices for those developments.

And, all six offices — Tampa Palms, Westchase, Fishhawk, South Tampa, Carrollwood and Brandon — participate in FER’s HOPE Foundation, a Florida 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization established in 2015 (HOPE is an acronym for Housing, Opportunity, People and Education).

Doug says, “The HOPE Foundation is our way of giving back to those in need throughout the areas we serve.”

There currently are four nonprofit organizations receiving contributions from the Foundation — the Academy Prep Center of Tampa, A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay in Brandon, Quantum Leap Farm of Odessa and former Tampa Bay Bucs WR Vincent Jackson’s Foundation — Jackson in Action.

“With contributions from all six offices, we’ll be donating about $40,000 to those charities (total) this year,” Doug says. “We’re pretty proud of that.” The Foundation also names a “Humanitarian of the Year” every year at FER’s “Awards of Excellence” ceremony. The 2018 Humanitarian of the Year was Sue Dei from FER’s Carrollwood office.

The Tampa Palms office of Florida Executive Realty is located at 15802 Amberly Dr. For more information, visit FloridaExectutiveRealty.com or call the office at (813) 972-3430, or Kristy Darragh at (813) 931-6700. And, please visit YouTube.com/WCNT-tv or search “Neighborhood News” on Facebook to view FER’s Featured Business video segment.

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