This year Lakeland-based property management and real estate firm Lorio & Associates celebrates the big 3-0. The firm offers specialized brokerage services with a focus on commercial property management, leasing, and sales. For the last 30 years, founder Joe Lorio and his team have been managing their clients’ properties with an emphasis on service and quality with a simple, but unique philosophy on how to manage them.
New York native, Joe Lorio came to Polk County in 1984. He worked for the real estate developer, Executive National Realty. The company was a property manager that did rehab development, specializing in the restoration of older buildings. He worked with them for five years, opening his own firm on November 1, 1990. As he was buying properties for himself and needed to manage them, he saw property management as an opportunity to be a cottage industry which would allow him the freedom to continue looking for properties to acquire.
People saw him craft these property management deals and began to ask if he would do the same for them. One property at a time the firm grew, now managing 32 properties throughout Polk County.
The real estate market has had its share of turbulence throughout Lorio’s time in business. His company faced rough waters through the Savings and Loan Crisis during the 80s, and the 2008 Housing Crisis. Yet, they persisted. “When I look back at my career – I feel like I’m the sum total of the decisions I never made as opposed to the good decisions I did make,” said Lorio of the risky investments he decided to pass up. “It’s nice to know you can get through two significant downturns in the real estate business and still be here.”
The company is circumscribed to office space leasing, says Lorio. “We consider ourselves the office space specialists,” he said. Along with specialized brokerage services, commercial property management, leasing, and sales, the firm has a residential division.
His team is small but mighty. Lorio has crafted an environment of family and passion for what they do. Heather Evans is the office manager, property manager, and a licensed real estate agent for the firm. Lorio is grateful for Evans and all of the work she puts into the business, saying he sees her eventually taking over the business one day.
“He has taught me everything I know. Ironically enough, I came here just to answer phones and in the first six months, I was doing everything. Now, I have my real estate license and I’m going to get my brokers license,” said Evans. Evans says she is grateful for the openness, learning opportunities, and peaceful environment at L&A.
Also on the Lorio team are Associate Property Manager, Lori Gray, and Maintenance Coordinator Rusty O’Neal. Lorio cares deeply for his team and acknowledges the unique talents each member brings to the firm. He doesn’t keep time charts and as long as the work gets done, they are free to do anything they need, including taking care of children and family responsibilities. He feels that freedom lends itself to productivity. “If you help people, you’ll all be successful and more than that, you’ll all be happy,” he said.
Celebrating 30 Years
As Mr. Lorio reflected on the last three decades, he discussed people who have influenced him, mentored him, and philosophies that contributed to the business’s longevity.
Two mentors he had throughout his real estate journey were Gary Ralston and Dean Saunders whom he described as two of the most accomplished brokers in town. Ralston especially impacted Lorio. He said of Ralston, “He started selling suits in Madison Avenue and that was great sales training because he took that and went into real estate. That’s probably one of the reasons I wear a suit every day is because he wore a suit every day.”
“He was successful. I thought if I did what he did, I would be successful,” said Lorio.
The manner in which he manages properties is important to the L&A owner. “I’ve always wanted to manage property like I was managing my parents’ property,” explained Lorio. This philosophy was cemented in his mind during his days waiting tables at an upscale New York restaurant to put himself through college. One day, Lorio was conversing with his friends, probably discussing plans for when they got off work he said. The owner of the eatery came to Lorio’s table with a water pitcher and filled up each water glass. Lorio knew he was in trouble when the owner walked over and sat the pitcher down beside him. He said, “Make believe you’re serving your parents.”
“That stuck with me,” said Lorio. He manages the properties in his care with the same due respect. He often tells his team, “Make believe you’re managing your parents’ property. Take care of it better than what you’re doing.”
His entire business is also based around a high level of service. “In our society, we pay people based on the quality and quantity of service,” said Lorio. “If you provide a good service for someone, the money will come in so fast you won’t be able to count it.”
The Christian roots of the firm also impact the way they do business says, Lorio. He tries to treat everyone, no matter their social or financial status, equally. This level of fair service has paid off. He told the story of a young man named Ed Laderer who came to him and said that he was leaving his company to start his own business. He didn’t have a lot of money but needed an office. “I worked really hard to finance this little hole in the wall of an office. […] He was so appreciative that I found it. Today, he owns Southern Homes with Greg Masters and we manage his property to this day.”
Evans added how important his time and presence with clients is to Mr. Lorio. “It’s not just a text, it’s not just an email. It’s picking up the phone and calling to say, ‘Can I meet you for lunch,’ or ‘Can we grab some coffee and talk this over,’” she said.
Here’s to 30 More Years
What does the future hold for Lorio & Associates? Where will the company be on its 60th anniversary? “I would like to help the people that are here. I would like to mentor them so that one day if I leave here in any capacity […] that they don’t have to go work for somebody to collect a paycheck,” said Lorio.
Thirty years in business has left Joe Lorio with much to be grateful for. “First and foremost, I am grateful to God Almighty for the great life that I’ve had. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. It’s hard to believe that I do what I do,” he said.
Lorio & Associates
1820 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL