When a visitor reaches Suite 540 in Georgetown’s Canal Square, the first impression is surprise: how can two organizations have the same location?
It turns out that the Genau Group Realty Advisors and the nonprofit Luke’s Wings are both overseen by 41-year-old Fletcher Gill, a man who admits to working as many as 20 hours in one day.
Gill’s entry into real estate stemmed from a life crisis. When he reached his early 30s, he wanted to do work that was meaningful. Having done consulting for Deloitte and PwC in New York, then worked on accounting software and auditing in Washington, D.C., he realized in December of 2007 that he needed to change his career trajectory.
“I was in a job that I was really just tired of,” he says.
As he was searching for a different career, he knew that he didn’t want to go into law, nor did he want to go into medicine. A number of friends who were working in real estate suggested that he go into real estate himself. He believed that he could do it, so he quit his former job and charged ahead.
At the same time that he was doing this soul-searching, he was seeking a balance in his life — in other words, doing something in which he would be giving back. He was connected with the Red Cross, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian and the Courage Cup. “I was trying to be as involved as I could,” he says. However, he felt the need to have his own passion project.
During a conversation with a friend, Sarah Wingfield, the topic of wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center — including Luke Shirley, who lost an arm and a leg — came up. Gill wanted to provide a service for the loved ones of these wounded warriors, so that the cost of visits wouldn’t be an issue. The result was Luke’s Wings, a title making nods to the names of Shirley and Wingfield.
As for his real estate business, Gill comments that, because most people don’t often get involved in real estate deals, they may think that there is no need for a go-between, an intermediary and a negotiator between buyer and seller. He argues otherwise, pointing to his staff, who, he says, bring individual specialties to bear. One person may know Montgomery County, Maryland, residential properties and another multi-family properties, for example, creating a real estate brain trust. Nearly all of the firm’s work is local. “We’re focusing more on D.C. metro,” Gill says.
Gill’s endeavors are paying off. Luke’s Wings started to show significant success at the end of 2011. The Genau Group, which will be six years old in May, has now reached a good place, he says. The company team has grown twice in size in the last 12 months and Gill is looking to double the current number over the next year.