January 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Steve and Jenny Minino sit at the table during a Sunday morning sipping coffee while their kids—Kenedi, age 7, and Zachary, age 6—sit on the couch with iPads. It’s a not-so-typical morning in the life of this goal-oriented family.

Kenedi attends first grade at Sagewood Elementary School. She has played soccer for four years, started playing basketball this winter, and is in the Xcel Bronze class at Premier Gymnastics.

Zachary, who goes by Meatball, is in kindergarten at Sagewood. He earned a white belt with stripes at karate, but now plays football, soccer, and basketball.

All these activities with the kids required a balancing act for Jenny and Steve.

“It was busy,” Jenny says.  “A lot of times it was ‘OK, you take Meatball, I’ve got Kenedi, and we’ll meet back here in two hours.’ ”

Steve, a real estate agent with NP Dodge, works a lot of hours. He works nine to five, he works through dinner, after dinner, on vacation. Then, of course, there’s weekends.

“Weekends are huge for realtors,” says Jenny. “That’s when they hold open houses.”

This meant Steve couldn’t spend much time with the children. A year ago, Steve created a way to incorporate more family time into his life—bring his wife into the business.

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“I just got so busy that I needed Jenny to handle some of those details that I couldn’t handle anymore,” Steve said.

Details such as marketing and database inputting. With two people focused on one work goal, they became more productive. This also satisfied a longtime dream of working together, one that needed time to develop.

“It’s tough to begin with because as a real estate agent, you an independent contractor so you are responsible for insurance and things,” Jenny says.

It was a reality Steve knew well. His mother, Deb Hopkins, has worked in real estate for 30 years, and his grandfather also sold real estate. Extended family members also work in the same business.

“I never wanted to work in real estate growing up,” says Steve, who has degrees in culinary arts and hotel management. “My love was always cooking.”

Nine years ago, Steve worked in Las Vegas. A phone call with his mother led Steve back home.

“She said, ‘Well, if you don’t mind the hours, why don’t you come back and join the team.’” Steve said. “I think ultimately she realized I would be in real estate, but she wanted it to be my decision, not her legacy.”

There are days when Steve and Jenny need to pick up the kids then return to work. Their solution? Bring the kids to the office, where they keep a supply of crayons and paper to keep them occupied while they work. The other employees, some of them family members, don’t mind.

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Zac has a big reason why he likes going to the office with Mom and Dad.

“I like getting candy!”

Steve laughs. “A lot of people in the office keep candy at their desk. The kids know who they are.”

Kenedi likes visiting “Nonni,” she and Zac’s nickname for Deb.

“I leave notes for her,” she says. “I stick them on her desk, on her chair, on her computer…”

This philosophy of family-friendly business means a lot to the couple, especially Steve, who grew up attending open houses with his mother.

Steve says, “I used to run around and turn on lights. These guys haven’t quite done that for me yet, but they will.”

They parents have also gone on client calls with them, but the Mininos are mindful of which clients will accept their children being around. Fortunately, most of their clients are family-friendly.

“I’ve always said if a client is bothered by our kids, maybe they aren’t the right client for us,” Steve says.

Working while the kids are around saves the Mininos money. The average cost of day care in Nebraska is more than $5000 annually. This lifestyle allows the parents to continue working while keeping the focus on their family.

“During the school year I’m able to work around their school schedule,” Jenny says. “It’s nice because it allows me to be with them when they have a teacher inservice or something. We’re so fortunate that we have so many family members who are in the industry that they can step up and cover for me when needed.”

As the Mininos business grows, this lifestyle of working with family becomes more important.

“I would say we are busier now,” Steve says. “It’s fair to say we’re working smarter, not harder. What is nice was that we still have time for a family dinner at least three times a week. We didn’t have that before.”

Sitting at a kitchen table that now is used for eating at instead of looking at, Jenny glances over at Kenedi, who lays on the couch playing a game.

“Are we grooming them to be realtors, too?” Jenny asks.

Kenedi shakes her head no as Steve laughs.

“Probably, but they just don’t know it yet.”

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