Just before Christmas we spent an afternoon with George Hackett, long-time president and leader of Coldwell Banker/Pittsburgh. During the conversation two things about George’s commitment and style became apparent.
The first was the significance George puts on his dual roles as husband, father and grandfather, and as Dutch uncle to his Coldwell Banker family. George’s focus has always been on improving the lives and securing the futures of everyone in his orbit—his immediate and workplace families.
Our second observation was that George Hackett is a humble man. He is a leader who prefers to credit most of his outsized success to others: his wife Teddi; his first partner and mentor; Coldwell Banker; his management team and superb agents.
A real commitment to others, and humility: good things, indeed.
A Quick Start
George grew up in Penn Hills, went to Clarion, where he met his wife Teddi, and then Duquesne for his graduate work. Shortly after marrying in 1973 George recognized that his teaching and track coach salary weren’t going to cut it. Teddi was teaching in the North Hills at the time but if she were to stop the ends would have trouble meeting. George adds: “I wasn’t making enough money and I wasn’t particularly motivated; my wife Teddi was my motivation; I wanted to do well for her and so I starting looking for something else to do. Credit also has to go to my mother-in-law who knew someone in real estate who was doing well, and it was she who suggested I give it a try at least part time. Fortunately for everyone I took her advice!”
In 1974, after six months of marriage, George started with Les Hosack Real Estate. In his second year of working part time for Hosack it was clear to everyone that it had been a good decision. He was making 5 times what he was making teaching and coaching, and the die was cast. Knowing a great opportunity when he saw it Hosack offered George a stake in the business, opened a second office in the North Hills, and proposed they grow the company together.
In three short years George had married his college sweetheart, switched careers, parlayed his newfound drive into equity in a real estate company and a new office in the North Hills.
The Mentor Chooses Wisely
George is quick to point out that there was a certain kismet quality to his early success: a suggestion from his mother-in-law, meeting and connecting well with an appreciative (and smart) business owner-turned mentor. “I have to admit that at the start it was all about making more money but the relationship with Hosack went well and we were off and running. Les and I had a great relationship. He was older and more experienced, and he gave me a shot. He was someone I looked up to as a leader and mentor. It was a gift from God. I never even really knew anything about real estate, I just got into it, it suited me very well, I loved it and I still do.”
Over the next 10 years George opened 8 more offices and in 1984 Coldwell Banker bought the company. George took over as President in ’86.
When we asked George to sum up his early success he demurred, saying it’s sometimes hard to put your finger on exactly why something turned out the way it did, but he cited hard work, a sense of urgency, motivation to do well for his family, and someone to help him get started. He doesn’t think about the financial aspect for himself anymore. Now it’s more about trying to help his agents succeed.
“I have wonderful relationships with all my people which is really nice. It's very much like an extended family to me. I’ve been gifted with something that I love which is sometimes hard to find. All this time I've been doing this every day and I still can't wait to get to work.”
Ace realtor Georgie Smigel has this to say about George and his impact:
“Under George’s guidance, I’ve become one of Pittsburgh's top 3 realtors for the past 10 years. The great thing about George is that even though he's the president of this big company he really cares about people and their families, not just their business. Everyone is absolutely amazed by his accomplishments!”