Nearly 30 years ago, Patrick Stracuzzi lay in a hospital bed, praying: God, please help me.
Days before, a Mack truck had plowed into Stracuzzi’s two-seater Pontiac Fiero, breaking nine of his ribs, dislocating three others and sending shards of glass through his left hand. It knocked out one of his teeth and wrenched his back. He struggled to breathe, and wondered how he would ever find the strength to return to his construction job, which supported his wife and newborn son.
He prayed silently: God, if you give me another chance at life, I promise I won’t squander it.
Today, Stracuzzi is a top-selling real-estate agent whose team, Stuart, Florida-based RE/MAX Community, is ranked No. 28 in the country and No. 44 in the world within RE/MAX. He is considered a national expert in selling luxury homes and is a renowned speaker who has been flown throughout the country to coach other agents.
From his focus on his family—three of his four children work with him, and he coached his youngest son’s youth baseball team for years—to his commitment to community service, that hospital-bed promise has led him to build his life from his heart.
Hiring for Heart
After recovering from his near-fatal car accident, Stracuzzi began working solo for a small real-estate company. In his first year, he sold 52 properties—mostly double- or single-wide mobile homes.
He joined RE/MAX about 20 years ago. There, he began selling higher profile properties and attended a RE/MAX conference that he says changed his life. At the conference, he connected to real-estate motivational speaker Howard Brinton, who Stracuzzi describes as his mentor.
From Brinton, who died in 2012, Stracuzzi learned to hire agents for their compassion and heart rather than their resumes, and to carefully delegate work to those agents. As Stracuzzi built his team, he aimed to find agents who would connect with clients on as people rather than customers, and who would be willing and able to dig deep to find what was motivating a prospective buyer.
Stracuzzi’s longtime office manager, Betty Cipra, says Stracuzzi forms personal connections with each agent in his office and each client he serves, describing him as “the most caring person I’ve ever met.” Brinton also instilled in Stracuzzi the importance of paying it forward—both to his family and the wider world.
Another major part of Stracuzzi’s efforts to keep his hospital-bed promise was his desire to make his family his first priority.
That priority was further clarified by another near-death experience a couple years after his 1986 car accident. The shooting pain in his back had become debilitating, and he consulted a doctor about back surgery. A chest X-ray preceding the operation he planned to have revealed an aortic aneurysm—a lingering injury from the car crash—and doctors recommended he travel to Texas to have it repaired. He had internal bleeding following the surgery, and doctors had to operate again. During the second surgery, he flat-lined, was brought back to life, and awoke to a ventilator and tracheotomy.
When he recovered, he renewed his commitment to not only make his family his first priority, but to spend his time in a way that reflected that priority. These days, his three oldest children work with him, and he schedules his youngest son’s basketball games into his daily calendar with the same prioritization he’d give to a high-profile client. When conflicts arise, he tells clients and colleagues that he has an appointment he simply can’t break. He regularly takes solo trips with each of his children, including a recent trip with his youngest son, Jack, to see an Atlanta Falcons game. “My son told his mom, ‘I wished the day would never end,’” Stracuzzi says. “To me, that’s what life is all about.”
As Stracuzzi’s business grew, he became increasingly committed to community service. He named his team RE/MAX Community to reflect that goal.
Years ago, he began hosting an annual customer-appreciation dinner at a local banquet hall. As the number of guests increased, he expanded the celebration to include the entire community, creating an event that has become a cherished tradition in Stuart, Florida. Every holiday season, he hires an ice company to create piles of snow at Stracuzzi Plaza, and serves hot chocolate and cookies as Santa hands out presents.
The many non-profit organizations to receive assistance from Stracuzzi include the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast; Castle, which aims to prevent child abuse and neglect through education; and the Florida Oceanographic Society, which aims to inspire environmental stewardship of Florida’s waterways.
The proceeds of his new book, “Magic Selling,” will go to the Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds for and awareness of children’s hospitals. He is a major sponsor of his local youth baseball and basketball leagues; organizes events to raise money for those in need; and loans moving trucks to charities such as the United Way to bring assistance to hurricane-stricken areas.
After another local RE/MAX agent, Rob Gangi, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2009, Stracuzzi worked behind the scenes to recruit nationally known speaker Floyd Wickman to speak at a benefit seminar for Gangi, raising more than $30,000 for his family.
“It was a true blessing,” Gangi says. “He’s the kind of guy who has an idea in the morning, puts it on his day’s agenda and accomplishes it by the end of the day. He’s top of the list.”
He also gives more informally. Ryan Watley, who coached youth baseball alongside Stracuzzi, says Stracuzzi routinely sponsored trips for league players and their families to see Florida Marlins games. He also recalls that when Stracuzzi heard that a team member’s bike had been run over, he bought the kid a new one.
“He quietly dropped off the bike one morning without the mom or kid knowing who’d done it,” Watley says. “He doesn’t give for the recognition.” Perhaps most importantly, Stracuzzi says, he aims to maintain a sense of gratitude about the good things in his life.
“I say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ when I appreciate someone,” Stracuzzi says. “I believe that I’m here for one reason: To serve others with all my heart.”