Nick Gelfand: 33
Owner and President, NRG Real Estate Inc.Nikita Robert Gelfand’s parents didn’t plan on giving him initials that sound out a word, but he’s definitely had the ‘NRG’ to succeed.
Having immigrated to the U.S. from Russia at age 11 with his family, Gelfand said that he always liked real estate, and he knew, even as a child, that he wanted to own and operate properties. But he has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, he said, and after working for a larger realty company, he knew the time had come to hang out his own shingle.
“Maybe it was the hot market I got into in 2003,” he joked. “Those boom years were awesome. I realized it was something I could make a living at — which is nice, when you can do what you love.”
He’s equally committed to bringing the sum total of his professional experience to others in need.
“I think it’s important for everyone in a community to give back to the community,” he explained. “You always look for somewhere you can contribute that’s close to your heart. There are many great charities and nonprofits to be a part of, but Habitat for Humanity seemed right for me. Because I help people buy houses in my everyday life, it just seemed like a natural fit to help these folks who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a mortgage in a traditional way.”
As a board member for the Greater Springfield chapter of Habitat, Gelfand also helps to coordinate the Fall Festival campaign, which last year raised more than $35,000.
Meanwhile, at work, Gelfand said that helping people get into their first homes is one of his proudest accomplishments — one he gets to enjoy on a weekly basis. “Some of my favorite clients to work with are first-time homebuyers, because I was in their shoes very recently.”
It’s the American Dream, he said, for a kid from Russia to own his own business. And with his energetic approach to real estate, he’s making that dream come true for others.
— Dan Chase