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Dan Forsman on farming, fishing and helming a haute new luxury home collection.
 

Dan Forsman and his sidekick Cooper stop by one of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Luxury Collection Buckhead listings for a visit.

Dan Forsman, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, is truly a gentleman from another era. His preference is to spend his time on his family farm planting trees, hunting and providing a habitat for minks, otters, deer, foxes, rattlesnakes and the occasional tortoise. Oh, and by the way, he also heads up one of the top real estate agencies in Atlanta—not too shabby a feat when one considers the economic challenges the real estate industry weathered over the past few years. We caught up with the gentleman farmer turned real estate magnate for a brief chat.

Given your love of farming, how did you transition into selling homes? I came to Georgia for a summer job on a Greyhound bus from Nebraska and hitchhiked out to my first job, crewing on a shrimp boat. In five months, I worked my way up to captain—the youngest in the state of Georgia at the time. How did I transition into real estate? Fishing! It’s all about commission: You don’t catch anything, you don’t eat. A realtor doesn’t make a sale, he doesn’t eat.

That opportunity for you was Berkshire Hathaway, right? Absolutely! It was a hard decision to sell my company—and I had many a suitor—but what excited me about Berkshire Hathaway is their commitment to excellence. Warren Buffett has never given the Berkshire Hathaway name to the companies he acquires, but he wants to raise the bar in the real estate world. As we grow our Luxury Collection—our division that markets high-end homes—we have a brand that will resonate with the affluent buyer. What others promise, we deliver.

Besides your obvious passions, are there any charitable pursuits you enjoy? We’ve always supported the Camp Sunshine kids, and before that, we put on the city’s largest garage sale for Children’s at Scottish Rite. Channeling money to those who can’t help themselves has always been important to me. Moving forward, history preservation is also very important to me. We rewrite history through our lens. I think preserving it so you have an objective basis is really important. It’s not from a political, religious or social viewpoint—you just need to preserve what really happened. We’re supporting the Swan House Ball this April because I believe that the Atlanta History Center is doing invaluable work.

It sounds like you’re doing invaluable work too. Well, I think we all need to foster a sense of mentoring. Someone believed in me, helped me and gave me the opportunity to grow. This new generation needs mentors and needs to identify with a person. They need a personal relationship that both guides them and holds them accountable. We need to connect our generations. There’s a lot of wisdom and guidance to be shared. It’s funny how life chips away at you. Things happen and you can resent them or learn to love, respect, embrace and help—it all depends on your perspective.