Kitchens leads M.M. Parrish through all sorts of changes
Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 5:48 p.m.
When Michael Kitchens was promoted to president of Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors in January, he moved into an executive role in a business that has been in the Parrish family in Gainesville through more than 100 years and five generations.
Occupation: President/broker, Coldwell Banker MM Parrish Realtors
Personal: Married to Sherry Kitchens (president of the Child Advocacy Center); two children: Avery, 13, and Tori, 8
Dream partners for lunch: "Other than Ronald Reagan, it would be my wife, son and daughter."
Last book read: "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek
Favorite TV show: SportsCenter
Playing in his car: '80s channel on XM Radio
Hobbies: "Not much time between work and kids' activities."
Education: BA in psychology, University of Central Florida
But he is no Johnny-come-lately. Kitchens, 43, is the seventh generation of his family in Gainesville. His mother, Carolyn, served on the Alachua County School Board in the 1990s and his father, Craig, is a physician at Shands.
His grandparents socialized with J. Parrish's grandparents and he now reports to J., whom he considers a close friend.
Kitchens said they work "shoulder to shoulder" on the day-to-day management of a brokerage with 80 associates while J., as CEO, handles the financial side of the business.
He said the job involves a lot of troubleshooting and trying to keep agents motivated.
"The market in the last few months has definitely helped me in my job in terms of keeping people upbeat because they're all very busy now and it makes for happy salespeople," he said.
Parrish called Kitchens a cheerleader, a best friend and a bulldog when he needs to be.
"He has the approach to things that our sales team absolutely loves," Parrish said. "He's one of those knowledgeable people in our market about residential real estate transactions, and he takes every opportunity he possibly can and turns it into a learning experience. Even for the most experienced, qualified agents, he finds an opportunity for everybody in every circumstance to learn something from the situation, but he does it in a way sometimes folks don't even realize they're learning."
Kitchens started his real estate career in 1994 while in his early 20s. He said his age was a challenge when working with people on the biggest investment of their lives, but he drew on his deep roots in the community and his Scouts' honor to become a multi-million-dollar agent.
"I built my business on a foundation of being trustworthy and loyal and reverent and all those Boy Scout things that I learned back in the day, and it worked out well," he said.
At age 30, he was elected president of the Gainesville-Alachua Association of Realtors, serving in 2000.
He has now spent his career with the three largest real estate brokerages in Gainesville, starting with ERA Trend Realty, now Prudential Trend, from 1994 to 2001, before joining Bosshardt Realty Services, where he was promoted to executive vice president and managing broker in 2003.
"I learned from a lot of great people," he said.
He started at Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish in May 2012 as executive vice president and brought 10 agents with him from Bosshardt.
He said he was intrigued with the idea of working with some of the major players in local real estate and the company's long-term vision.
In September, the company moved from its 10,000-square-foot office near Santa Fe College into a 5,000-square-foot office in the TD Bank building on Tower Road. It's not that they have fewer agents, Kitchens said, they just didn't need the space.
"We're all interconnected with technology these days so it's easier for people to float in and out and be on their iPads and laptops and still have all the nice conference rooms and things like that for them to meet their clients in," he said.
Technology is also changing the makeup of the housing market as tech jobs draw a younger workforce.
Kitchens and Parrish serve on a real estate committee for the Innovation Gainesville economic development initiative.
Kitchens said he sees that driving more urban infill and less sprawl.
"The market's changing because those people are looking for housing in and around the downtown area," he said. "They want to walk to their restaurants, their jobs, their entertainment, their friends. They're looking at building more stuff in that Innovation Hub area. There's a real estate facet to that plan. Right now there's condos around the downtown area, townhomes, and then there's some houses that are in the Duck Pond area that they seem to gravitate to."
"There's a lot of people moving to town. That's good for all of us."