SPOTLIGHT ON: Larry Curasi - Brewing a Robust Real Estate Career
Mary Prenon | September 2016
What does the beer industry have to do with real estate? This may seem like an odd question, but if you ask Larry Curasi, they do have a lot in common. For many years, the Broker/Owner of ERA Curasi Realty in Montgomery enjoyed a flourishing career in the beer industry before brewing up an equally successful real estate business over the last 20 years.
While still in the 10th grade, Curasi started working for the Suffern Beer Distributors, doing everything from washing trucks to cleaning the warehouse and loading trucks. “I wasn’t exactly the ‘angel child’ in school, but I had a very strong work ethic at a very young age,” he recalled. He worked afternoons and weekends, and eventually became a full time employee while still in school. “When I was in 11th grade, I actually compared my salary to my guidance counselor’s salary and I was the one making more money!”
When he finished high school, Curasi continued working in the beer industry, making deliveries and getting involved in sales as well. When he was just 20 years old, he took a job with the Canada Dry/Coors distributor in Yonkers and Marlboro. He later became the union’s youngest shop steward. “They allowed me to be the voice for the union employees. It was stressful, but very exciting too,” he said.
During this time, Curasi also bought his first house in Walden. He met his wife Nancy the same year and the couple married in 1995. At 24, he had a good experience with his home purchase, and wanted to get more knowledge and experience about buying investment properties. Prompted by this desire, he got his real estate license in 1998. “At the time, I had no intention of selling,” he admitted. “I just wanted to learn more about acquiring properties.”
However, fate had other plans. Once people learned about his real estate license, business started to pour in. “Word traveled quickly and I did start to sell real estate, as well as invest in properties,” he said.
In 1999, Manhattan Beer Distributors purchased the local company where Curasi worked and at that point, he had a decision to make. “I thought about starting over at a new place or doing real estate full time, and I chose real estate,” he said. He joined a small, independent firm in Orange County at the age of 28.
Two years later, he obtained his associate broker’s license, and then his broker’s license. An early advocate of technology, he tried to update the office with computers, but ended up often bringing clients to his home office to use his own computer. He became a HUD-certified broker and sold many foreclosed homes.
Within a short time, he opened his own office, Curasi Realty, in the lower level of his home. “It was kind of scary, but once we got settled in, it got very busy,” he said. As the company grew, he relocated the brokerage business to a storefront in Montgomery, hired an administrative person, and recruited about eight new sales associates. “In fact, most of them are still with me today,” he added.
In 2002, his wife, Nancy joined the business, leaving a corporate position at PepsiCo. Seeking to take the business to the next level, Curasi joined the ERA franchise network. Four years later, they moved into their current office, a three-story building in Montgomery. Today, ERA Curasi has 65 agents.
“Real estate always has its ups and downs, but I think what helped us was specializing in investment properties,” he said. “That’s why I’m still in business today.”
Throughout the years, Curasi has won many sales awards including the “Excellence in Sales” from the former Orange County Association of Realtors (OCAR). He received the “Beyond Excellence” Awards from ERA from 2003 to 2008 and from 2011 to 2013. His company was named among the Top 200 in the nation from ERA from 2007 to 2011 and Top 100 in the Nation from ERA from 2015 to 2015.
Curasi also served on the former OCAR MLS Board of Directors from 2008 to 2011 and was Treasurer for the HGMLS Board of Directors (2011, 2012). He continues to serve on the HGMLS Board. “I think the merger made all of our Associations a lot stronger and gave us a much larger voice,” he said.
Over the years, the biggest change for Curasi has been the power of the Internet. “I remember years ago, an instructor telling us that the Internet would never affect our business,” he said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth, but as Realtors, we still need to have that personal touch with people when we’re listing or selling. We also have to be more aware of details like problems with oil tanks, or other obstacles. We have to face them and work through them.”
In addition to managing the daily operations of his agency, Curasi continues to invest in properties, make improvements to them and resell them. When he’s not working, he and his wife Nancy are visiting their daughter, an executive pastry chef in West Palm Beach, FL. They also like to travel, and just recently celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary.
As a two-time cancer survivor, Curasi thrives through real estate. “I love helping people and seeing my agents be successful,” he said. “Although I still have great memories and some amazing stories about the beer industry, real estate is my passion and I would never look back.”