Atlanta native Michael Rogers is president of Dorsey Alston, Realtors.
Photo: Phil Skinner
Photo: Phil Skinner

Servant leadership puts agents first at Dorsey Alston, Realtors

Nearly 3,000 companies were nominated or asked to participate in the 2020 Top Workplaces contest by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its partner, Energage. Employees across the metro area responded to print and online solicitations that began appearing in September. 

Using survey results, a list of 150 workplaces was compiled, consisting of 22 large companies (500 or more employees), 63 midsize companies (150-499 employees) and 65 small companies (149 or fewer employees). 

» See all the AJC Top Workplace winners for 2020 here

Atlanta native Michael M. Rogers is president and owner of Dorsey Alston, Realtors, a company founded in 1947 by Roy Dorsey and purchased by Rogers’ father in the mid-1980s. Dorsey was a close friend of Rogers’ grandparents.

Dorsey Alston was affiliated with 26 real estate agents when Rogers became involved in the company after his father’s death in 2000. The company has since grown to include 250 agents and has been the top seller of Buckhead homes since 2009. It has been ranked as an AJC Top Workplace in the medium-size category for six consecutive years and was the first-place finisher in 2016.

Rogers’ family has deep roots in metro Atlanta. His great-grandfather settled in what is now Johns Creek, and the farmhouse he built in 1939 is still in the family. Rogers graduated from The Westminster Schools, the University of Virginia and Stanford Graduate School of Business. While at Stanford, he said, he learned the power of listening.

“The focus on listening and responding to my team has led us into a servant leadership model that puts our agents first and differentiates us from our competitors,” he said. “Trust and fairness are also two very significant attributes to me. I am honest almost to a fault, which creates a level of transparency and trust within our team that is integral to our culture.”

» Dorsey Alston ‘seems more like a home than an office’ 

Q: Did the company start with the mission to be a place where people wanted to work, or is that something that has evolved through the years?

A: “In 2008, I hired Spalding White, who received a Purple Heart for his service in the Vietnam War, as a senior partner. Spalding’s model of servant leadership — and the loyalty it fostered amongst his team members — reshaped our culture. That culture, combined with my local ownership and attentiveness to our team, as well as our focus on ethics and character overgrowth, created an energy that continues to attract agents.”

Q: What are some of the specifics that make Dorsey Alston a great place to work?

A: “Our focus is on support and culture. We have three senior managers in addition to me, an incredibly talented marketing team and a passionate operational staff that are literally at our agents’ beck and call around the clock. We view our agents as our clients and exist only to support them in any way we can. Part of our model is to provide the services of a personal assistant through staff programs to negate the need for such help and to be able to offer that level of service to the entire team as opposed to just a handful of top producers. We also involve our entire team in all significant corporate decisions. We widely solicit feedback from our team and incorporate the feedback in all of our strategic decisions.”

Q: How has that affected your retention rate? Your bottom line?

A: “Our focus on the character, reputation and ethics of our agents has been an impediment to our growth and our bottom line, as we have turned away large producers that have expressed interest in joining our firm that we felt did not promote our reputation either in the agent community or the larger local community. Some of our competitors have grown much more quickly than we have because they hire less discriminately based on production. We have made a strategic decision focusing on quality over quantity, which makes us a stronger company in the long term.”

» Meet the remaining top five midsize companies

Q: Can you talk about your company’s involvement in the community? How does that fit into the company mission?

A: “We are strong advocates of community involvement. As residential Realtors, we believe our relationship with the community is as significant — if not more significant — than any other profession. As a firm, we encourage our agents’ community involvement, and we match their sponsorship activity in the community organizations of their choice.”

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS COMPANY AND OTHER WINNERS

» Leaders of top workplaces say clear vision, good communication build strong teams

» Employee training, family culture set Arrow apart

» Meet the remaining top five large companies

» Unconventional management style puts Supreme Lending back on top

» Meet the remaining top five small companies

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