“I’ve never seen anybody this young get that real estate is all about service,” Gary Brigham, an orthodontist and investor, says about A.Z. Araujo. When former clients—no matter how former—find anything broken at their home, Araujo marshals his “army of craftsmen” to handle the repair, often for no charge, says Brigham. That focus on service helped Araujo close 53 transactions and $14 million in sales in 2006.
A happy accident: Araujo didn’t intend to sell real estate; he’d received his license to buy investment properties while moving up the ladder at a Fortune 500 company. “Soon I was assisting buyers and sellers,” he says, “and before long I was getting more referrals than I could handle.” Within 15 months, he’d exited the corporate world to follow what he realized was his passion.
A.Z. knows Arizona: Since Araujo’s initials match the postal code for his home state, he’s created a logo incorporating both and reinforced his brand with the marketing line “The hottest name in real estate.” The Spanish-speaking Araujo has a decidedly international business; 75 percent of his transactions are with non–English-speaking clients, mostly from Latin America but also from India, China, and Vietnam. “Professionalism has no cultural boundaries,” he says. “It’s an international language.”