Nearly 15 years ago, Frederik Eklund and John Gomes joined forces together and 10 years ago they created the Eklund Gomes team at Douglas Elliman proving that a strong friendship can lead to a wildly successful business relationship.Fast forward to 2019, they have become the highest producing real estate team in the US with 79 team members spread across four offices from New York to Miami and Los Angeles.Their success can be attributed to their chemistry and complementary personalities that can be seen onscreen throughout the 8 seasons of Bravo’s ‘Million Dollar Listing’ with Eklund’s larger than life personality that is grounded by Gomes’ meticulous attention to detail behind the scenes.Always on the go, Resident Magazine caught up with this dynamic bi-coastal duo during Art Basel Miami Beach in the midst of their whirlwind schedule as they talked about their latest expansion, secrets to success, and what makes their team unique.
What are your keys to success as a team?
Fredrik Eklund: We joined forces in 2005 as business partners and we fought a lot in the beginning, but we also feel like we won the lottery in life.It’s not every time that you can work with your best friend and that is the true meaning of success.It’s about making money, building a team, and becoming the number one team in the nation that is based on the premise that we are all one family.It was more important to have a loving, free, and eccentric team where everyone can be themselves and push the envelope in the industry.
John Gomes: I think the key to our success is that we are so different.We have a similar drive and philosophy to life but our approach to life and our work is very different.Having two men that complement each other makes a strong and successful team.
What do you feel are each other’s strengths?
JG: Frederik has a vision for our business based on what it should look like and how it should grow.He’s very photogenic and good on television.I’m more of a doer in the background and I trust his vision.Fredrik refers to us as a duck above water.He’s floating, pretty, so beautiful and graceful, but I am the duck’s legs under the water trying to keep up with him.I also envision him as a hot air balloon.He could fly away if I didn’t grab onto him and keep him grounded.At the same time, he keeps lifting me up and pushing me further.
Tell us about the expansion from NYC to Miami and Los Angeles?
FE: After being the #1 team in NY we decided about two and a half years ago to expand to Los Angeles and we got the blessing from Howard Lorber to venture out with a warning that this would not be an easy task.The last two years have been very challenging.Although I live in California, I’ve been in New York and Miami every week setting up big teams in each city.Our roles have changed from just being brokers and showing properties.It was a messy middle where we had these great plans, but as we began to execute them, we realized how difficult it really was.On the other side, when we see what we created we are so excited, proud and happy.We haven’t seen any super team that is traveling around servicing buyers and developers in these markets.I live in LA, John Gomes lives in NY, and Julia Spillman, the CEO of our Miami office just relocated there for the season.We are a trio.Miami has really blown up and we call it Miami Takeover.We have over $200 million in listings here including some really big trophy apartments such as the Miami Edition Penthouse and the Four Seasons in Ft Lauderdale.
JG: I woke up one day and I felt like I was trapped.I have a great career in NYC, but I felt anchored in NY and felt that I could only ever work in NYC. Since I was a boy, I always had this dream that I would be bicoastal.We had always worked very hard on building a brand.Because of Fredrik and his presence on television Bravo gave us access to over 40 countries in the world, and I thought, ‘why wouldn’t we expand?’It’s foolish to think that after so many years of growing the business, why not grow it bigger and follow our clients to wherever they may live.We have a lot of celebrity clients that live between LA and NY, and clients that go from NY to Miami, which is basically the sixth borough.Why lose that business opportunity.
What do you think are the different dynamics of these diverse markets?
FE: They are so different and unique.Money is flowing into these different markets, especially for the luxury customer.Most of our clients have homes in all three markets or have plans to be there so in that way it’s not so different.Miami is less seasonally driven than it used to be, but it’s not like NYC which is all year round.LA is harder to break into because it’s the same people who have been there for decades and the market is a little smaller there.There are single family homes, and not as many new buildings, which is what we have the most of in NY.However, 70 percent of the most expensive zip codes in the US are in California.There’s a lot of wealth and big properties, and we have some of the most exciting properties there such as 8899 Beverly which is one of the best and most expensive projects in LA.
JG: New York is fast paced and has higher price points and it’s also vertical in the same way as Miami, but it also has many single family homes.In NY you have attorneys and in Florida the agents really have a big role in the contracts.NY moves faster and in LA it takes a little longer, you have co listings and need to build relationships there such as entertaining clients and taking them to lunch.
How do you like living in Los Angeles?
FE: Regardless of what I do in my professional life I know that my kids are having an amazing time.They are in the pool or in the park and I don’t want them to grow up in an apartment with snow.Professionally if we are looking to do well in these different markets one of us had to be there because you can’t really grow a team by email.Yet I don’t feel like I moved there because we are all rotating which energizes me.For me, what was really exhausting was sitting in the office, seeing the same markets and buildings and doing the same thing all the time in NY, but being in all of these markets is like a wet dream.
JG: For me, the most exciting thing is being in this dynamic triangle.Sometimes I leave NY at 6 am and I work all day in Miami and board a plane at 6 pm to return home to NY.Sometimes I fly across the country and I can be there for one to three days which makes me better at what I do because it makes me happier to have this amazing energy in all three markets, which keeps me on my toes.
Which projects are you most excited by?
FE: In LA we are most excited by 8899 Beverly, they bought the site 10 years ago and it took 10 years to get approvals.It’s the best and most expensive project in LA in a while.Olson Kundig is the architect who just did Bill Gates’ home and has a billionaire following.We feel very proud to be part of these new developments.In NY, new developments have been very challenging this year because of an oversupply of inventory yet at 40 Bleecker we have one penthouse left, and everything in this property got full asking price and it’s not even finished yet.
JG: This is a difficult question to ask because we both have twins and it’s like asking us which twin we prefer.We work on these projects from inception and there are aspects from each one that we love.Sometimes we help the locations find a developer, and can introduce them to the architects, the interior designers, and the collateral firms.Sometimes we work on these projects for five years at a time before we sell them out.This is a creative expression which feels like a part of us.We’re also working on some very tall and significant buildings that will change the market.
What can we expect for the next season of Million Dollar Listing?
FE: We just finished filming season 8, and each season can take over 9 months to film.I’m hoping to film more in Miami and LA.I think the amazing thing with Bravo is that the format has changed with us as our lives have also changed.We have kids now and the business has grown which is exciting to show our audience.
How has television changed your life?
JG: I knew Fredrik before the television show, and he’s been my best friend throughout the whole process.I’ve become a very good photographer and take his selfies with his fans. As we move through these different cities, people are very excited by him and they love to see him and can’t believe they are lucky enough to bump into him.He’s the reality star and looks so real and is so approachable.I think other celebrities are sort of aloof, but people look at him like he’s a friend.It’s been great for our business because it gives our listings a tremendous amount of exposure.
FE: You wouldn’t interview us if I wasn’t on tv!
What sets your business apart from other real estate teams?
JG: There aren’t many teams that do what we do.Our team is a very well organized machine that’s changing the way the industry is looking at the business of the future.It will be hard to compete with teams like us because we have such a presence with a structure and reputation which makes us successful. Our structure has a CEO who runs our business with a COO who assists her with multiple assistants and presidents in each city.We could never do what we do if they didn’t do what they do and sometimes they don’t get enough credit.We didn’t know Miami or LA, but we connected with those very talented and highly respected individuals who are in the field who educated us.They are the unsung heroes.
Fredrik and I used to do everything it took to
sell each apartment and then we gradually started to add people.Our roles began to change, and we became ambassadors for the brand.We create things on the front end and our team is selling everything on the back end. Without them we would be nobody and unsuccessful.It wasn’t so easy to do this, but we built our brand to this level. It has been exciting but scary at the same time.