Real Estate Agent of the Month Alei Gothberg

Alei Gothberg

Home Grown Success

By Susan Cushing

As modest as she is accomplished, our Real Estate Agent of the Month, Alei Merrill Gothberg describes herself as “just a local girl, raised on a farm.” As a founder of Amherst Madison Partners, one might assume she would be eager to boast of her success. Quite the contrary. Appearing almost oblivious to her many accomplishments, Gothberg is hesitant, even shy about talking about herself. As an individual agent, she’s already on track to sell over $12 million in residential real estate in 2015. However, she would rather discuss her children, those she works with and the idyllic community she’s called home her whole life.

Albert Einstein once said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” It seems an excellent description of how Gothberg lives her life. Raised on an egg farm in Eagle, she adopted a solid work ethic at a very young age. In fact, she’s been working 12-hour days since her early teens.

“Our family farm had 500,000 chickens,” she explains, “and I covered a shift every summer from the time I was 11. At this point, hard work is in my blood. But, I really love real estate so much, that it never feels like work; my clients become my best friends and a great source of happiness.”

Gothberg’s roots run deep in this community, three generations to be exact, so she has enjoyed the pleasure of watching the growth and changes over the years. Furthermore, as the daughter of former Mayor, Nancy Merrill, she was able to observe firsthand the scrupulous plans that her mother so lovingly fought for.

“Our town has changed a lot,” she says, “and I’m quite proud of my mom because she’s pretty much the one who put the beautiful plan together that has resulted in the amazing community we have today.”

As much as she dearly loves her hometown, upon graduating high school, Gothberg was ready to spread her wings with aspirations of attending law school. These plans, however, changed radically.

“Someone came and talked to me about traveling the world, suggesting I attend travel school,” she explains. “I have to admit, especially when you’re 18 and lived in a small town your whole life, the idea of traveling the world sounds incredible! So, I went to Miami Beach and went to travel school.

“I then accepted a job with American Airlines in Hartford, Connecticut, which did indeed allow me to travel the world and see everything,” she continues. “In 1991, I came home and started working for a local travel agency. In 1993, I actually had the opportunity to buy that agency!”

The new young owner quickly grew the agency into a substantial business, eventually expanding to four locations throughout the Boise area.

The Consummate Juggler
While all this was going on, Gothberg was already seeking out new challenges. “The real estate market was really taking off and I had a few friends who were doing developments, so I decided to get my real estate license.” For the next five years she ran both businesses, testing both her stamina and inherently strong work ethic. By 2012, Gothberg decided to focus on just one business. The choice was easy, as much as she had enjoyed the travel industry, her true passion was real estate.

“Just as I had discovered in the travel agency, rather than trying to be all things to all people, I had to find my own niche,” she says. “In travel, my niche was luxury travel, specifically the South Pacific and parts of Europe. So, I took that same philosophy into real estate. I know the Eagle real estate market specifically, and I had worked with a higher-end clientele in my travel business, so I decided I’d like to work with that same clientele in real estate.

“It’s at this point that I felt I launched my real estate career for real,” she continues, “and I decided I’d try to concentrate on the Eagle market.”

Her official launch was an unmitigated success, selling $15 million in the first year. “It’s very true that once you decide to do something and put all of your focus and effort into that, it will happen!”

That statement is somewhat deceptive when you consider that not only is Gothberg an unquestionably diverse and successful businesswoman, she’s also the mother of five. Regardless of her professional aspirations however, her children have always come first and this means becoming adept at juggling. Her solution was not only ingenuous, but a testament to her commitment to being a great mom.

“I decided if I was going to be a working mom, then I had to know who was caring for my children when I wasn’t around. I always kept them with me until they were about two. You’d see them with me at the travel agency and even when I met clients in their homes. But around two, they become a little too active for that, so I needed to have childcare that I felt very comfortable with.”

In 2001, Gothberg purchased her childhood home and turned it into a preschool where all her children had the opportunity to attend.

“My kids are my life,” she says, “I enjoy working, and I’ve always had to work, but I wanted to make sure my children didn’t have to pay the price for that.”

All Her Eggs in One Basket
After essentially operating three businesses simultaneously, the decision to focus on a single pursuit allowed Gothberg to fully embrace and develop that career. As with everything else in her life, when she helped launch Amherst Madison Partners, it was with a very definite vision of what it would look like.

“After being successful in the luxury travel industry for 20 years, I wanted to create a real estate brand that focused on distinctive marketing and a unique concierge approach to serving clients,” she says. “As a company, we decided to focus on the upper- end real estate market. We’ve invested heavily in the best technologies and premium service platforms. We have partnered with those who operate at the highest levels to guarantee creative, out-of-the box marketing that raises the bar.”

Established in July of 2013, the business has been doubling every 12 months. Certainly, hard work, dedication and passion all contributed to this amazing success, but those who know those involved will tell you, the real reason lies much deeper – an incomparable commitment to serve. Of course, that’s a tried-and-true marketing claim for virtually every business that’s ever opened their doors, but a closer look into the background of the people and experiences of Amherst Madison is both illuminating and profound.

“One of our founders shared a story of an experience he’d had in college,” Gothberg explains. “While volunteering for a childhood cancer organization, he met two children, a boy and a girl, both battling leukemia. He became absorbed in their lives and was blessed to witness them both overcome their deadly disease after years of courageous struggle. Our brokerage is named in their honor; Amherst for the little boy and Madison for the little girl.”

Even the environment of Amherst Madison is very different from the typical brokerage office. Mentoring, partnering, career development, community involvement and above all, teamwork are rewarded before the number of sales each agent might contribute.

“We have strived to create an environment of camaraderie, free of the intense competition that eventually breeds resentment,” notes Gothberg. “You have to teach our philosophy from the beginning; to share and celebrate each other’s wins and be supportive through our losses. It seems to work for us. We have incredible people and everyone cares and helps one another.”

This philosophy appears to be working well, translating into many luxury real estate listings for the company. Amherst Madison Partners was chosen to be the exclusive representative for Leverage Global Partners in all of Canyon and Ada counties.

Kids and Community
As her children grew, there were always baseball games, school events and various activities that Gothberg never missed. Both of her eldest sons now play baseball for college teams in Utah, her daughter is a sophomore at Eagle High, and her two youngest attend North Star Charter School where, coincidentally Gothberg was a founding parent. IB certified and in 2015 ranked amongst the country’s Most Challenging High Schools, North Star is Treasure Valley’s first public, tuition-free school authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

Active in the community she loves, a dedicated mom and a dynamo in real estate, somehow this highly accomplished woman remains modest, even a bit self-effacing. When presented with her many impressive achievements she simply smiles and says, “What can I say? I’ve had a charmed life. I feel very blessed by having the opportunity to be around great people.”