Lacey Yerbey Williams is on a mission that’s proving to be anything but easy. As the co-owner and broker of Weichert Realtors - Yerbey Realty, a provider of full-service real estate in the Greater Chattanooga area, she wants to teach people to pronounce the first part of her company’s name correctly. It’s not wee-churt, she says, but y-curt.
“I’m trying to educate people on the name,” she says, laughing. “It’s an ongoing process.”
Williams has been trying since 2014, when she aligned Yerbey Realty, an offshoot of her family’s company, Yerbey Concrete Construction, with Weichert, a national real estate company headquartered in Morris Plains, N.J. She says the decision to go with Weichert was easy, even though she had to learn to pronounce the name, too.
“I didn’t want to open another franchise of a company that was already here; I wanted to bring a new company to Chattanooga,” she says. “I chose Weichert because, like us, they’re a family-run company.”
After purchasing the Weichert franchise, Williams kept the company under the same roof as Yerbey Concrete on Central Avenue in downtown Chattanooga. This proved to be confusing to the public, so Williams started looking for a new home for her company. When Smarthomes Chattanooga needed bigger accommodations and moved out of a building Yerbey Concrete had built for Terminix years earlier, the die was cast.
At a grand opening in August, the entire Yerbey Realty team was there. Made up of nearly a dozen Realtors, the company has already come a long way from its simple beginnings as a side endeavor for Williams as she worked at her father’s business.
Way back when
To trace the history of Yerbey Realty, one must go back to 1950, when B.H. Yerbey started the construction company. Twenty years later, his son, Gary Yerbey, joined the company, turning it into a family-run business. It was business as usual until 2008, when Williams, a student at East Tennessee State, asked her dad how she could pitch in after she graduated. At the time, Gary owned a number of commercial and residential rental properties, so he suggested his daughter earn a real estate license.
“I wanted to come back and work for the company, but I didn’t want to be the receptionist; I wanted to have a job title and make a unique contribution,” Williams says. “So when he suggested real estate, I went for it.”
Williams wore a number of hats at Yerbey Concrete, and did real estate only occasionally. Then, in 2014, when she and her husband were on vacation, Weichert called.
“They wanted to talk about coming to the Chattanooga market,” Williams says. “While I liked working for the construction company, it kept me busy. If I wasn’t doing one thing, I was doing another. My husband and I were thinking about starting a family, and that’s not how I wanted to do it. So I decided to go into real estate full-time.”
Running with Weichert
Williams says the support she’s received from Weichert has exceeded her expectations. She’s especially pleased with the way the company helped her grow her team of Realtors from just her and David Young to nearly a dozen agents. The training the company provides was a key component of the expansion. “Their training is excellent,” she says. “We’re now offering our agents more than we ever have.”
Williams is glad for the help because her plans for the company are ambitious. First and foremost, she wants to bring more recognition to the Weichert name in Chattanooga. Doing this will require Williams to take on more agents. Like many owner-brokers, Williams would love to have a number of seasoned agents join her team, but she also likes bringing new blood into the business.
“I love the energy new agents bring to the job,” Williams says. “They’re excited to be working in real estate, and their enthusiasm is infectious.”
While many things at Yerbey Realty have changed, one thing remains the same: like Yerbey Concrete, it’s still a family company. Although B.H. passed away last year, Gary still owns part of the business, and Williams’ sister, Lindsey Yerbey, is a Realtor with the company. Lindsey worked as a concrete estimator at Yerbey Construction for ten years, and when Williams needed help growing and launching Yerbey Realty, she decided to switch roles and pitch in.
Lindsey likes working both ends of the home buyer age spectrum – retirees and first timers. “I’ve worked with more buyers than sellers, which is fun,” she said at the grand opening. “It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy looking at houses and seeing the spark in people’s eyes when they find the right place.”
Home away from home for Williams, Lindsey, and the rest of the company is the building in Chattanooga, located at 3861 Hixson Pike. While there, agents sometimes run into Gary, makes the occasional appearance.
“You might find me here with my feet kicked up,” he said during the grand opening. Other than that, I let everyone do their thing.”
Gary says he’s proud of Williams for growing Yerbey Realty from a one-woman, part-time effort into a growing company. “I encouraged her to not copy other real estate companies, but to research the business and become what she wants to be,” he said. “She’s done really well for herself.”
Hopefully, Williams will do just as well teaching people how to say her company’s name.
Find Weichert Realtors - Yerbey Realty online at www.yerbeyrealty.com.
To see a photo of the Yerbey Realty team, pick up a copy of this week's Hamilton County Herald.