Shalini Madaras named businesswomen of the year

It would be difficult to call 2007 a good year for starting a local real estate business, but against all odds, Shalini Madaras has made it work very, very well. 

In March, the owner of Silver Pine Real Estate, which manages commercial and residential property transactions, was named the Connecticut U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2014 Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year.

This award, according to the organization, is “indicative of consistent development of a growing business, success in sales and profits, and demonstrated potential.”

Her success in the small business and real estate worlds, Ms. Madaras said, is due to a fundamental decision she made to step outside her comfort zone. This tactic was developed in dedication to her son, Nick, who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“My company was more inspired by my son than anyone else,” Ms. Madaras said. “He was courageous, he was brave, he went out there knowing the kind of danger he would be in. My hesitation was always the not-knowing of going out on your own.”

Rather than quit after experiencing the effects of the economic recession soon after founding her business, and despite her initial hesitancy, Ms. Madaras found time and patience in a tumbling economy.

“The market was sliding so fast, and the bottom wasn’t visible,” she said. “But I found that was really the best time to start Silver Pine because it gave me a chance to sit back and study the markets. To study what happened during the good years.”

In addition, the Small Business Administration offered programs during the recession, and after, that greatly aided her growth.

“The SBA is a really great organization. They put out all of these training programs and educational programs. They had absolutely all of the help you need. It’s just a matter of you going out there and getting it,” Ms. Madaras said.

Moraima Gutierrez, the SBA’s assistant district director for economic development in Connecticut, said this week Ms. Madaras was nominated for the award because her business has shown three characteristics the administration looks for: profit, growth, and innovation.

“She’s really been at the forefront of taking her business to the next level,” Ms. Gutierrez said. “She’s been asking, ‘What can I do differently?’ and ‘How can I participate in the federal contract program?’ She really represents the model of excellence for being a woman-owned business.”

Additionally, Ms. Gutierrez said, Ms. Madaras’s Silver Pine Real Estate is positioned for the future.

“She has increased opportunities for employment, she is innovative in her business methods, and has demonstrated potential for someone who is going to be in this business for the long haul,” she said.

While sustaining her business financially during its early years, Ms. Madaras poured her time and energy into something she calls “educational investment.” Recognizing the increasing importance of real estate sales once few and far between — like foreclosures — she expanded her understanding of different aspects of the business.

“I invested in the educational aspect of the business,” she said. “I learned more about the foreclosure process. There was a time where foreclosures were almost nonexistent. All of a sudden they started becoming the norm.”

Being one of the first real estate companies to change its model helped Silver Pine in the long run, Ms. Madaras said. She found clients other local businesses probably wouldn’t even consider.

“Going into seminars and conferences helped me understand the business. It was a new time, but also a time where a business’s focus needed to change a little bit. Real estate became more of a business than a series of networks. I had to learn how to handle bank-owned properties, and now some of my clients are Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the United States Coast Guard,” she said.

Once again, she said, the Small Business Administration greatly helped her find these kinds of clients.

“Anybody starting a small business should contact their local SBA,” she said. “They are located in Hartford, are extremely helpful and they have great ideas. They even keep track of who you are and what you do,” she said. “I got the Coast Guard as a client through the SBA because they keep track of what you are and refer businesses to you.”

Ms. Madarass’ company is certified by the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, and the Government Services Administration.