By Wendy Cole, Managing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
A year ago, Daryl Braham, CRB, GRI, was featured in REALTOR® Magazine as a standout broker for seamlessly juggling his duties as broker-owner of Prudential Premier Real Estate in Fargo, N.D., with his role as CEO and co-owner of innovative home construction company Heritage Homes. Somehow he also managed to serve as 2011 President of the North Dakota Association of REALTORS® at the same time. We wrote about his company’s distinguished honor in being named one of seven national finalists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Dream Big Small Business of the Year award, chosen from 75 impressive semi-finalists. Representing the Midwest region, Heritage Homes was recognized for its pioneering business practices, including its focus on women buyers, and for great success in driving local economic growth.
What a difference a year makes. This week Braham and co-owner Tyrone Leslie found out that the dream had come true. Heritage Homes was just named Dream Big Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Chamber. The company was cited for it exemplary performance in the areas of staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and business strategy. “This was our Oscar moment,” said a giddy-sounding Braham, the day after receiving the award at a luncheon in Washington, D.C. “We had tears rolling down our cheeks. We were blown away.”
Heritage Homes has 24 employees and reported sales of $19.4 million last year, up 20 percent from a year earlier in a market in which new home construction starts were down nearly 20 percent. “We were told we had one of the best business plans they had ever seen in this competition,” added Braham, who is also currently NAR’s political fundraising liaison.
Had Heritage Homes waited until next year to apply for the award, its business success may well have kept it out of the running. Eligible companies must have revenue below $20 million. “This was probably our last chance to win,” Braham said.
Braham is understandably proud of his employees and their tireless efforts to keep Heritage at the top. “We have a great team, and we’ve empowered them all to execute on their great ideas. Everyone on the team is a leader,” he said. Among the company’s innovative practices: “We have mandatory reading. And it helps. Everyone had to read Jack Stack’s The Great Game of Business, which helps you see how to turn business into a game. Everyone working with us has an important role.”
The award included a plaque and a $10,000 cash prize.