|10/15/2021 4:31:00 PM|
A Multifaceted Career Has Served Her Well
|Dean M. Laux|
Englewood’s Sandra Adkins-Pertz is an active woman, having at one time or another been busily involved in six different professions, ranging from nightclub waitress to company CEO.
A charter member of the Baby Boomers generation, Sandra was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio as the oldest of five children in a middle-class family. Her dad worked for a lighting manufacturer, often on the night shift, and her mom put in long hours as a manager at a nearby Johnson & Johnson plant, which meant that Sandra was frequently on her own.
“We had a live-in nanny,” Sandra says, “but we had a lot of time to do whatever we wanted. We were city kids. My brother Allen was two years younger than me, and we used to do a lot of things together. When we were about 10 and 8, we would buy a bus ticket for 25 cents and a transfer for 3 cents, and we could go anywhere we wanted. We knew the whole bus system! In the summer we’d go about 10 miles to downtown Cleveland and get a transfer to the Cleveland Indians’ stadium, go to the gate where the maintenance people were, and they’d let us in for free.” That was pretty enterprising of the little rascals, and it foretold of the smarts and skills Sandra would employ later on in her life.
She attended the local city schools in Cleveland and fit in well there. “I got along with just about everyone,” she remembers. “That’s just me. I am not judgmental, and I’m pretty outgoing. I had a lot of friends–especially after I got a ’57 Chevy my junior year.” She adds that she “had no idea what I wanted to do at that age. My mom told me to get ready to get a job as soon as I was out of high school, so I took courses at South High School in typing and shorthand and business.”
After she graduated from high school she embraced the responsibilities of adulthood rather quickly, finding a job with a local manufacturing company as a secretary for three engineers (“I hated it”) and then at age 21 getting married. Shortly after that she and husband Gary moved to Mentor, Ohio, where she found a job she liked better, one she retained for nine years: waitress at the Beachcomber nightclub on the shores of Lake Erie. “It was perfect for me, because I made good money and I worked in the evenings, so I was able to be at home during the day to take care of my kids,” Gary Jr. and Kelly. “They sent me to waitress school, and I learned how to serve, how to interact correctly with the customers and fit into the nightclub’s routines and regulations.” She learned well enough to become the head waitress and earn the prized working station nearest to the band.
In 1975 Sandra and Gary parted company, but she stayed on at the Beachcomber for another three years, often working into the wee hours on weekends. It was then that she met a customer, Lieutenant Louis Pertz of the Cleveland Fire Department’s arson squad, who later became her husband. In 1978 she moved to Solon, Ohio, where she found work at the Johnson & Johnson plant. “I started out in the production control office as a planner,” she recalls, monitoring the assembly of parts for CT scanners. Over the next several years she moved up in grade from Planner 1 to Planner 4, the highest rank in that position and the only woman in that department.
Louis retired from the CFD in 1986 at the young age of 42, after 20 years of service, and the family moved to Nokomis, Florida. “We loved Florida,” she says, “but at that time I didn’t know anything about Englewood,” where she now lives. “To me, Englewood is Olde Florida, with a quaint ambience. The people here are down-to-earth, so friendly and pleasant.”
After they settled into their new house, Sandra went back to work, this time with Sun Coast Plastics in north Sarasota as their purchasing agent, reporting directly to the company president. “They hired me because as a planner for Johnson & Johnson I had the same kind of experience and responsibilities as a purchasing agent,” she says. “But this was the hardest job I ever had. They made plastic caps for everything: big caps, little caps, caps of every color you could think of. I had no assistants, and I managed a multimillion-dollar annual budget. My job was to keep the factory going. I bought everything for the company, negotiated all the purchase prices, and maintained all the schedules. If anything was out of line–deliveries, prices, inventory, whatever–the factory would have to shut down, and it all fell on me. It was very, very stressful.” But she stayed on for five hectic years before deciding she’d had enough stress in her life.
There was, however, one stressful event that she loved: planning and managing an elegant Croatian wedding and reception for 700 people in Cleveland for her daughter Kelly in 1985. Her planning and negotiating skills came in handy, and it was a huge success. Sandra says with amusement, “My daughter thinks I walk on water.”
Sandra’s husband Louis had started a private investigative agency called “New Line Claims,” and in 1997 Sandra took over the reins of that company, building it up successfully for six years before turning it over to her son Gary, Jr. in 2003. The business has continued to grow and is a thriving operation to this day.
“After that I took one year off, and I turned down a couple of job offers in purchasing. I thought I’d like to try real estate,” she says, “so I went through a real estate training program and got my license to practice.” Then she started at the top. She talked with a Michael Saunders manager, was invited to meet the great lady herself, had “an interesting conversation with her, and we hit it off right away. I think my prior experience came into play, and they hired me for the Venice office as an agent,” she says. “That was in May, and between May and December I sold $3 million in residential properties. They were amazed that a new agent could sell that much in that period. I started out like gangbusters.” She also took advantage of Michael Saunders’ extensive training program to upgrade her credentials for the business.
Sandra stayed with Michael Saunders for four years, until 2008, when she switched over to Re/Max Platinum Realty, which is structured to allow agents to run their own business rather than function within a corporate environment. “I wanted that,” Sandra says. “I needed to be on my own.” She handles residential sales mostly in Englewood, Venice and the surrounding area, though she could in theory handle sales anywhere in the state.
And Sandra has made her name in this area. For nine consecutive years she won the “Best in Client Satisfaction” award from Sarasota Magazine. She’s in the 100 Percent Club at Re/Max as one of their top agents, and she’s served as vice president of the Women’s Council of Realtors.
“It’s not an easy business,” she points out. “Statistics show that in the first year of practice 80 percent of the new real estate agents drop out.” There are long hours, sales that fall through, a wide range of personalities to deal with, vigorous competition for business, and often delicate negotiations to be finalized. “But we’re all there for the same reason: to complete the transaction,” Sandra says. “Ultimately, my job is to protect the contract, and that always takes reasonable negotiations.” This normally easy-going, nonjudgmental gal adds with finality, “And I’m the best negotiator you’ll ever want to meet.”
Well, she has successfully negotiated her way through professions as disparate as waitress, secretary, planner, purchasing agent, businesswoman, company owner and realtor, so who are we to disagree with her?
Dean Laux is exploring interesting folks living in our community. If you know of anyone with an interesting background please send an email to: email@example.com. Include the person’s name, contact info and give a brief description of the person's background.
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