LOCK HAVEN - Two well-known real estate names in the city have come together.
The new firm of Brigandi Kissinger Realtors is the result.
"It's a win-win for the customers," broker Mark Bigatel said. "That's what we were looking for."
The staff of the new Brigandi Kissinger Realtors are seen at the real estate firm’s office in downtown Lock Haven, created through the merger of two successful offices. From left are, front, Machell Scott, Kim Stiles, Gail Bryan, Tom Brigandi, Heather Peters Bilbay, Kathy Probst, Cathi Noll, Dorothy Muthler, Mark Bigatel; back, Linda Karichner, Bonnie Bryerton, Doris Williams, Sharon Best, Nancy Merinar, Sandy Halerz, Tina Wilson, Penny Showan.
"We just decided it would make sense to combine our offices and agents," said Thomas F. Brigandi, owner and broker of the former Brigandi Renninger Realty.
The result is the largest, most experienced real estate office in Clinton County, they said.
Brigandi and Bigatel, of Kissinger Bigatel and Brower Realtors, started talking in April about merging their separate Lock Haven offices, located just steps away from each other.
Four months later, the agents have their new licenses, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission regulations have been met, and the offices have consolidated in the Brigandi suites at 220 N. Jay St., behind the Roxy Theatre.
The merger went smoothly, Brigandi said, becoming official just last week.
The firm's staff now numbers 17 agents whose training and experience, the two businessmen said, will benefit customers.
The staff's total years of experience exceeds 200, Brigandi said, adding, "That's something we're proud of."
"We feel there is strength in numbers," he said. "It's going to give our clients a great deal of exposure for their listings."
The merger connects the two markets of Clinton and Centre counties, Bigatel noted.
Brigandi Kissinger Realtors focuses on Clinton County, but works in Centre, Potter and Lycoming counties, as well. It is a member of the West Branch Multiple Listing Service and the Centre Multiple Listing Service, which will get its listings out to many potential buyers.
Kissinger Bigatel and Brower (KBB) will continue to do business under that name in Centre where it has the greatest market share in the county, Brigandi said.
But here in Lock Haven, with both realty companies set up for business just two doors away from each other, a merger made sense, he said.
"The Kissinger name is very prominent in real estate in the state of Pennsylvania," Brigandi said. "They have a vast knowledge of real estate, and we can provide local knowledge."
Brigandi himself is well-known in the insurance field.
Originally from Clearfield, he met his wife, Patricia, here and has lived in the Lock Haven area ever since. He is also remembered as a social studies teacher at Sugar Valley High School. While teaching, he established Brigandi Insurance Agency. It became a growing business, and he devoted his energies to the agency after he retired from education. Thinking to give full-time retirement a try, he sold it seven years ago to Bob Gleghorn.
However, he said, "after two years of reading books and messing around, I couldn't handle the inactivity."
Nancy Renninger suggested he come to work for her real estate agency, Brigandi recalled. It worked out so well, he said, that he bought the firm about four years ago, with Renninger staying on for a time, until he attained his broker's license.
With the Brigandi-Kissinger merger, the agency always has a broker available, even when Brigandi is on vacation. He continues to be the broker of record here, and Bigatel continues as the broker of record for KBB in the State College area.
Bigatel has been in real estate for more than 40 years and is a principal partner in KBB.
Both men said they have similar business philosophies, which helped lead to the merger.
"Customer service is what it's all about," Brigandi said.
The real estate agent's experience is often the key to a successful sale, he added.
"The better you are, the longer you have been in business, the more successful you are," he said.
According to Bigatel, the new firm supports its agents by treating them well, encouraging them to be well trained and well informed, and providing them with the latest statistics so they can be the leading experts in their local field.
The agency also has a good relationship with the banks and can advise clients about obtaining mortgages, Brigandi said, particularly first-time buyers who may not know what steps they need to follow.
Because local banks were conservative over the past decade, they rode out the economic crisis well, he noted. They continue to be cautious today, but the local mortgage market "is open for business," he said. "If you have a decent credit score and steady employment, you can get a mortgage."
The agency also maintains good relationships with most of the local attorneys and can give clients a list to choose from.
"We get involved in all aspects," Brigandi said. "If a client says, 'I need a contractor,' a good Realtor will help him obtain all those services.
"As a result of the merger, we have more agents than any real estate agency in the county, and we project we will be the sales leader for many years to come," he said.
The firm's agents understand and employ the Internet to good advantage, he said. It's where 90 percent of home buyers start their search, he added.
The agency can be found online at www.1bksold.com.
It was relatively easy to combine the listings and Internet activity of the two offices for the merger, Bigatel said, because both did business in a similar fashion.
In addition to using the West Branch and Centre multiple listing services, Brigandi Kissinger Realtors also advertises in the The Express, Real Estate Journal, and is on every major real estate website, Brigandi reported.
The firm can and does work with relocation agencies as well, according to Bigatel. Businesses and industries might employ such an agency when they need real estate services quickly, although many prefer to contact realty offices themselves, Brigandi explained.
Customers already are getting leads and exposure they might not have before the merger, Bigatel noted.
But the agency does not operate under the slogan "a sale at any cost," Brigandi said.
"We have to live here among our friends and our associates, and we try our very, very best to do things the right way," he said. "I would rather an agent walk way than use deceptive practices. 'Anything to get the sale' is not worth it."
Both KBB and Bigatel Renninger Realty were known for community service, and that emphasis will continue, he pledged.
One of Brigandi's passions is working with food banks and similar groups, including Emmaus, St. Paul Lutheran Food Bank near Lamar, and the Renovo Food Pantry. Getting public credit for it doesn't matter to him, he said.
KBB is known for raising funds for the American Cancer Society, and both agencies participated in Realtors Rock to help the United Way.
"We do what we can," Brigandi said.