People and Companies

Mary Demetree

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Demetree Real Estate Services, Inc.

native Floridian, Mary Demetree grew up watching her father work on residential job sites, retail shopping centers and apartments. In case you didn’t already know, much of the Magic Kingdom Park, as well as a large part of Epcot, is situated on land once owned by the Demetree family. They were also very instrumental in attracting Walt Disney to choose Orlando over other locations for his theme parks, as well as being innovators and trailblazers in the development industry.

Demetree recalled, “I was told in high school that I needed to get a business degree in college so that I could come home and work with my father in the family business. Like a dutiful daughter, I complied.” But she added, “Deciding to work side by side with someone who knew so much about business and real estate was the best decision I ever made. I had access to meetings with very successful businessmen right out of college. I was exposed early to things in business that most people wait years to learn or participate in.”

It was experience she was able to use to continue building one of the area’s most successful real estate firms, along  with other investments such as cellular networks. But she candidly admitted, “The internal obstacle I struggled with was the feeling that I had to prove myself, my competency and capability because I was born into a family business. I have worked twice as hard because of that.”

On the upside, however, she said, “I continue to be amazed at the goodness of the human spirit and how the majority of my female colleagues and friends have been so supportive through the years. I was somewhat surprised because I thought that so many of them would be envious because of the head start that I got by inheriting a family business.”

Though she’s one of the area’s most astute businesswomen, she shared, “I am very passionate about my femininity outside of work. I like fashion, entertaining with fine china, eating healthy, exercising and trying to always look my best, because when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you are confident. People are attracted to confidence.

“In fact, I was told by a male years ago that being a woman in business is not a disadvantage but an advantage that I have over male competitors and that I needed to learn the gender difference and capitalize on it versus trying to act like a male. This is a fine balancing act that I believe every woman in business is aware of and struggles with. However, when you are in sync with this opportunity, the results can be amazing.”

She also said, “My spiritual father taught me that what I am doing is a vocation – not merely something that has an end game of making more money.” She concluded with, “I believe that at the end of life when we meet God face to face, he will not ask ‘Why weren’t you more like Mother Teresa or Billy Graham?’ but will ask ‘Why weren’t you more like you?’”


This article appears in the May 2015 issue of i4 Business.
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