Richard Cahill has known Jack Conway’s daughter, Carol Bulman, since she was a young girl hanging around her father’s real estate offices.
“I remember I opened the Quincy office in 1975,” said Cahill, who has worked at Jack Conway & Co. for 36 years. “We had a cake with a picture of a house on it. The photographer asked her to tilt the cake, and it slid right onto the floor.”
Cahill, now a Conway regional vice president, said he watched Bulman grow into a successful businesswoman and community leader.
In December 2009, Bulman became chief executive of Jack Conway & Co., the 55-year-old real estate company founded by her father.
The day she was handed the ceremonial key to the business “was one of the happiest days of all the years I have worked here,” Cahill said. “It assures that Jack’s legacy will continue, and it brings youth and longevity to the company and assures all the agents, who are younger, that they have a future here.”
Bulman’s mother, Patricia Conway, said she isn’t surprised Bulman ended up succeeding her father in the business.
Of their three children, she said, Bulman is “the most like her father – very energetic.”
Bulman said she started working in her father’s real estate company when she was 14 years old.
“Our headquarters used to be in Hanover,” she recalled. “My mom would drive me. I worked in the accounting department, and we had no computers, so I did a lot of adding.”
After college, she worked in various roles at her father’s company for almost 18 years before leaving in 2002. She spent seven years in the mortgage lending industry, then returned to Conway, the largest independently locally-owned real estate company in New England.
‘Nothing Like A Good Recession’
Since becoming chief executive, Bulman has put her own stamp on the company – consolidating some offices, shifting team responsibilities, entering new markets and preparing for future growth.
“I’ve said to our team, ‘There’s nothing like a good recession to make us all work hard,’” she said. “We’ve been working leaner and more efficiently.”
Despite the real estate market slowdown, Conway has expanded in the past two years. It bought a small real estate company in Dartmouth with two offices, and reopened offices in New Bedford and North Attleboro.
And in a bold move, Bulman spearheaded the iconic South Shore real estate company’s move into the North Shore, opening an office last year in Swampscott.
For years, Bulman said, her father and longtime North Shore Realtor Dick Carlson had a gentleman’s agreement that neither would cross into each other’s territory.
After Carlson sold his business to GMAC, however, Bulman was approached by former GMAC Carlson manager Tim Knowlton, with an offer to join forces.
Conway now has 42 offices, from the North Shore to Cape Cod. New offices, like the one in Swampscott, will serve several communities – a more efficient model than the one-office-per-town model of the past, according to Bulman.
Conway has subsidiaries which specialize in relocation and senior services, and also has an association with Wells Fargo’s mortgage division. With the Cape and South Shore market thoroughly covered, continued growth for those divisions will likely necessitate an expansion of the firm’s footprint into a larger market area.
Bulman said her goal is to “keep the company strong in its existing footprint and cautiously push out.”
Jack Conway, 87, remains chairman of the firm and is active in the company. Her mother, who Bulman describes as a “great bookkeeper,” works occasionally on special projects.
Christopher Haraden, Conway’s director of agent services, said the family’s involvement is critical to the firm’s success.
“We have Jack’s long history, where he’s seen the ups and downs of the market, and Carol’s energy of looking to the future,” he said.
Cahill, who has held many positions with Conway, including as president, said Bulman is energizing the company and everyone who works for it.
“I think she’s terrific,” Cahill said.
Bulman is a graduate of Providence College. She and her husband, Michael, have four children and one grandchild.