DECEMBER 2017 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 27
Judi Desiderio was a mid-island Phys Ed teacher
and amateur athlete when she decided to change
her life and try real estate. She found her calling,
getting her broker’s license, becoming her agency’s
top producer; leaving after a buy-out; then founding
her own agency, Town and Country Real
Estate. Her firm now has eight offices and about
170 employees and contractors. Business editor
Warren Strugatch recently caught up with her.
Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.
Long Island Press: How did you start out?
Judi Desiderio: I grew up in Massapequa. My
parents, Al and Jeri, were huge influences on my
life. He was a builder and she was a housewife. I
became an educator.
LIP: Did your parents encourage your career?
JD: I was never encouraged to be a teacher. My
parents were Italian-Americans and felt I should
get married and have lots of babies. I wanted
to go to college and so I did. I got my Master of
Exercise Physiology degree from Adelphi.
LIP: How’d you get in the game?
JD: Thirty-six years ago my first job was with
Jack Douglas. Within a short period of time I
outgrew his operation. I moved across the street
to Cook-Pony Farm (brokerage) and became top
producer there. The owner, John Cataletto, made
me a partner.
LIP: What triggered your decision to leave?
JD: Corcoran bought us. I’m not one for being
corporate. I lived out the terms of my non-compete
(contract). I came to realize the East End
real estate market was not (appealing) to smart
brokers. I decided to open my own agency and
change that. Knowledge is power, I like to say.
That was 12 years ago. Can you believe it?
LIP: You opened in a soft market. What was
your business model?
JD: I bought a small company called Village
Real Estate. I closed their offices then began to
hire support staff. I knew from being an agent
that I needed to have plum data systems. I had a
small army working on it.
LIP: Did you decide to grow organically or
JD: I acquired Kathleen Beckman (in 2011) and
Posposil (in 2016). I bought their databases as
well and that made our system more plum. Out
here everybody uses RealNet; everybody has the
same database. It’s what you do with it that’s the
LIP: Do you have a distinctive approach to managing
JD: I do. It’s different managing brokers than
managing employees. Brokers are independent
contractors. I visit all my offices regularly and
I get in the pits with my agents every day. I created
a board made up of the managers of each
LIP: Please describe your management philosophy.
JD: As a manager I fall back on what I learned
as a teacher, which is the importance of communicating
well; as an athlete, which is the importance
of competing; and as a broker, which
is finding solutions to problems by looking at
LIP: Real estate is about dealmaking. Do you
have a deal philosophy?
JD: I do. Melanie Ross, my former partner at
Cook-Pony Farm, used to say: Never need a deal.
You can want a deal. When you need a deal, you
LIP: Do you have a general business philosophy?
JD: Keep your mind open. Don’t get stuck in a
rut. Always consider different angles. If you’re
working with a listing agent who won’t open the
door, then go open a window.
Judi Desiderio: ‘Go open the window’
Judi Desiderio, CEO of Town & Country Real Estate, finds solutions to problems by looking at different angles. (Photo by Bob Giglione)