A passion for real estate seems to run in Karen Fish-Will’s blood.
Fish-Will was introduced to the business at a young age, beginning with afternoons spent at her father’s construction company after school.
“I learned a good portion of the business [by] just listening,” she said.
Fish-Will’s father, Ed Fish, later established Peabody Properties Management Co. in 1976.
The business is now run by Karen, CEO, and her sister, Melissa Fish-Crane, COO.
“I feel like I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with my dad and gain the experience from when I was very young until he passed away seven years ago,” Fish-Will said.
And in that time, she said, the acceptance of women in the industry has progressed.
“Thirty years ago, I was definitely an outcast in the room,” she said. “You just had to prove yourself.”
Although industries change and adapt over time, the core of Peabody Properties’ services has not, she said. Fish-Will attributes that aspect to dealing with people: The act of creating a home for someone – and the initial steps that lead to it – remain the same.
“It’s all about dealing with the individuals, supporting them; mentoring your staff; building your reputation; and taking care of your residents,” Fish-Will said. “Doing this day in and day out is really what makes you successful.”
Over time, these actions – and the relationships that have developed from them – have helped build Peabody Properties’ reputation. Creating condominiums and establishing supportive housing for veterans has been extremely rewarding, Fish-Will said.
“Each and every time we open a new project, tears come to your eyes,” she said. Fish-Will said the success stories reaffirm her belief in her line of work.
One project in particular was working with Gerard Doherty on Admiral’s Hill in Chelsea. The project included a mixture of condominiums, affordable housing, condo conversions, assisted living and commercial space, giving her a taste of everything.
“It really gave you a broad spectrum of what the business is,” she said.
Another project Fish-Will enjoyed – and that challenged her in a different way – was working on Latitude in Miami, a 44-story high-rise condominium community with some commercial space.
“It was a challenge – going to work in Miami and not even speaking Spanish. It was a different world,” she said. “That gave me so much insight to so many different people and different cultures.”
Her favorite part about her job is the people who live in the properties, Fish-Will said; the opportunity to enhance people’s lives with a new place of residence brings her a lot of joy.
“If people are happy, they’ll live forever,” she laughed.
“At the end of the day your reputation is the most important thing you have,” Fish-Will said. “With respect to my sister and myself … we really don’t waver from that. We stick with housing – that’s what we do best. … We’ve really tried to maintain our roots, from where we grew up and what we know, and we do it over and over.”