Founder & CEO • Amherst Madison
“What fills me up as a leader is being able to help them get to their goals. I love it when people tell me I can’t do something. There’s no faster way to get me to do something than to tell me I can’t.”
A focus on community
Building a great team, helping individuals thrive and building the Treasure Valley
Nick Schlekeway runs Tough Mudder and Spartan races, and he recently earned his master’s degree from Georgetown University. He played in the famous Fiesta Bowl in 2007, has worked as a firefighter, and last year raised more than $100,000 for local charities.
It’s all true, but his team at Amherst Madison real estate know Schlekeway for something much more important: he helps them reach their own goals.
“He never loses sight of what’s best for us,” says Mark Stevens, a long-time agent with Amherst Madison. “A lot of places give lip service to that, but this is a place that’s constantly moving forward.”
Schlekeway spends time learning about each member of his team and getting to know them personally, he explains.
“I’ve helped people pay off students’ loans before,” he says. “I’ve set target goals for their income level and tried to structure bonus plans to get them there, and a lot of unique sort of one-on-one type individual things to get them where they want to go.”
Helping agents thrive
More and more people move to the Boise area each year, and the landscape for selling homes is constantly in flux. For Schlekeway, those changes mean opportunities for his team of agents to succeed.
“One of the things that makes leaders unique is the ability to see the future and get there before everyone else does, and I really think Nick has that ability,” Stevens says.
Schlekeway holds two staff meetings a month, and offers an inspirational thought or piece of advice during each. For now, all the agents have to cram into a small break room area at offices on Emerald Way.
By next year, however, the company plans to open a new and much larger office space on Benjamin Street.
A recent merger with Front Street Brokers increased the team to more than 100, and will make this even more necessary.
In addition to the bimonthly meetings, Schlekeway offers Elevate, a 13-week course for new agents. The curriculum is constantly being updated to reflect changes in the market, and that’s uncommon in the industry, says Stevens.
“(Amherst Madison has) that commitment to not just being a place that is reinforcing the ‘same old, same old’ but is looking at what is tried and true and is still true, and what’s tried and not true, and needs to change,” Stevens says.
Building the team
Schlekeway is known for finding talent in uncommon ways, and for ensuring that each team member is fully bought in to the Amherst Madison culture.
He met the company’s designated broker, Eva Steinwald, about five years before he hired her. She worked at a different agency at the time.
“She’s fantastic,” Schlekeway says. “I immediately saw the talent in her as a teacher and a leader and just someone who would be really respected.”
And he was right.
Not only was Eva honored as Broker of the Year in 2018, she has the support of the entire Amherst Madison team. On a whiteboard for motivational quotes in the company’s training area, “#BeEva” is inked in large letters.
Steinwald holds the same respect for Schlekeway that he holds for her.
“Nick is all about business with fun,” she wrote in an email to IBR. “He listens to you but in return will hold you accountable, which I love. I make sure I am always prepared when we meet because I know his time is valuable. In return, he appreciates the fact that I value his time.”
Kirk Bell sits at the front desk of the Amherst Madison offices, and keeps an active Jenga game on his desk for passersby.
As with other members of the team, Schlekeway met Bell in an unconventional way — by renting office space from Bell’s property management company. Bell reconnected with Schlekeway to join the Amherst Madison team about a year and a half ago, and says the experience has been empowering.
“Its a back and forth on some levels,” Bell explains. “He’s definitely a mentor of mine, but working with Nick doesn’t feel like you’re some kind of underneath him, it feels like you’re working together.”
Supporting local charities
Beyond building a great team, Schlekeway says, the community focus at Amherst Madison sets the agency apart. Alongside newly acquired Front Street Brokers, Schlekeway hopes to raise more than $1 million for charity over the next two years.
“We take the perspective that it’s an investment, and its mandatory,” Schlekeway says. “It’s not optional that we invest in our community. Especially in real estate sales, we sell community. The reason that we’re able to be successful and have a life and a lifestyle is because the Treasure Valley is a great place to live and has great communities here. If those communities erode, then our product erodes and we’re out of a job.”
Because of that focus, Amherst Madison started a charity called A Giving Circle. In 2018, its first year, it raised more than $112,000. The donations were passed on to five local nonprofit organizations, which were chosen by the attendees at the company holiday party.
After the event, Schlekeway found out that many people on his team had doubted that he could pull it off.
“I love it when people tell me I can’t do something,” he says. “There’s no faster way to get me to do something than to tell me I can’t.”
For Mary Barnett, who has been with the company since July of 2018, the culture of giving back is what sealed the deal.
“Being involved in the community and engaging in what people need from a societal standpoint was important to me, and that was actually the final thing that got me here,” she says. “It’s not very common in corporate America.”
Professionalism in Treasure Valley real estate
Schlekeway was an IBR Accomplished Under 40 honoree in 2014 at just 29 years old. At the time, he set a goal to one day be honored as a CEO of Influence.
In the meantime, he has used his everyday influence to make his mark on Idaho real estate.
“We believe the level of professionalism in the real estate business is way too low, and we believe that our No. 1 direct way to impact that is by us and our example,” Schlekeway says. “We want to grow and we want to have more impact, and we want to have more of that professional standard out there for people to see.”