Above the Crowd

How One Local Realtor Built a Brokerage
That Has Earned National Acclaim


By RJ Walters
Photography by Jordan Randall

People who know Andrea Dockery aren’t at all surprised by her success, but her journey to being named the RE/MAX 2023 Broker/Owner of the Year for a single office franchise nationwide has been filled with them.

In fact, it’s still somewhat of a surprise to the 59-year-old Lakeland native that she has received these accolades.

Dockery developed her business acumen in a variety of roles.

She learned how to appreciate the details of an interior space from working retail, she honed her analytical skills working at Dun & Bradstreet, and after graduating from college she earned experience in customer service.

She was a star computer salesperson for a large company, and then, in her late 20s, astute local businessman and financial adviser Hollis Hooks of the firm Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley), recognized Dockery’s talent and brought her on board as a financial consultant.

Yet it was during a pause in her career, while she was staying at home with her daughter Katharine, when her lifelong fondness for architecture—which came from her late father, Ludwig Spiessl, (a Lakeland area architect originally from Munich, Germany), and her love for helping people merged unexpectedly.

Katharine had entered middle school, meaning the day-to-day parental involvement was dialed down, causing Andrea to ask herself, “Now what?”

“I’m not really the go play tennis and have lunch everyday kind of [person]…,” Dockery says with a chuckle. “But three times within a month I had friends tell me they were thinking about moving and I was like, ‘Really? Where do you want to move to?’ And I was just driving the entire area trying to find homes for them.”

Now, sitting at a table overlooking the lush greenery of Lone Palm Golf Club more than a decade later, Dockery reflects on her start and feels that God was clearly pushing her in a new direction, one that culminated in real estate.

Then, in her usual prudent fashion, Dockery carefully analyzed three of the largest local real estate agencies, ultimately deciding to join a broker who had been a colleague’s client at Smith Barney years earlier. She recalled how he had said this realtor was “setting the town on fire”: it was the late Jan Bellamy, who founded the RE/MAX Experts franchise that Dockery now owns.

“I came home and told [my husband] Carl, ‘It’s either going to be really really good or really really bad because we’re very straight forward, matter-of-fact people,’” she recalls. “And it was amazing, of course. Jan is probably still laughing at me from her grave because I naively thought I was just going to do this part-time.” 

NATION'S BEST: Andrea Dockery (right), earned the distinction of RE/MAX 2023 Broker/Owner of the Year for a single office franchise.

Dockery said she took to the real estate business like “a duck to water.” She earned the RE/MAX Executive Club Award status in her first year and was a 100% Club level producer by the end of her second year. In 2020, she earned the RE/MAX Hall of Fame Award.

Her husband, Carl Dockery—well regarded for his shrewdness as an investor, underwriter and entrepreneur, and who served as his father Doc’s junior partner in the reinsurance business that Doc built as a result of founding Summit Consulting—said his wife of 25 years has a distinctive set of skills that suit her particularly well for the real estate profession.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Her devotion to the success of her agents
  • Her strong marketing and negotiation skills that result in holistic good outcomes for her sellers and buyers
  • Her ability to put in the detailed prep work required at the onset of a listing to help ensure the success of its sale at an optimal selling price

Andrea’s love of the business and the agents she worked alongside of, coupled with her experience serving on the Board of Directors for the Lakeland Association of Realtors and for Stellar MLS, the third largest MLS in the United States, led Jan Bellamy to approach her in 2016 about taking over the 12-agent franchise. In her first year at the helm, she added another eight agents and continued working on her leadership skills, crediting the teachings of John Maxwell and Patrick Lencioni, as well as the mentorship of retired Lakelander Dave Ramsey. She is committed to her agents and is relentless in her pursuit of excellence – always looking to improve her skills and those of her agents.

Jan’s son Jake Bellamy, broker associate and one of the property managers for RE/MAX Experts, said Andrea’s strong business background and emphasis on growth have played a key role in taking what his mom looked at as more of a “boutique” agency and helped her grow it into the No. 2 producing real estate agency in Lakeland in terms of total annual sales.

“When it comes to real estate you get all sorts…from housewives to former professionals and executives, and people who might even just dabble in it and sell a couple here and there…but Andrea comes from a business background and has a driven mentality and is very growth driven,” he says. “[She] has established a culture of success and integrity at the office…and she’s turned down agents that don’t meet our culture, that don’t meet our professionalism.”

Andrea’s next surprise came in January 2023—in the form of a phone call from Adam Smith, who at the time was an agent with Coldwell Banker in St. Petersburg. He told Andrea he was building his Signature Group Team in St. Pete, was looking for a fresh start, and some of his colleagues talked glowingly about her leadership abilities, having seen her in action on a number of boards and committees.

Adam’s buy-in started a domino effect that ended in five new team agents for Dockery’s business and the start of the franchise’s team location in St. Petersburg. Following his team’s arrival, another team of four and seven individual agents joined the Lakeland office in 2023.

“[Andrea] has established a culture of success and integrity at the office…and she’s turned down agents that don’t meet our culture, that don’t meet our professionalism.”

-Jake Bellamy

That same year, Tony Fridovich, a longtime Lakeland real estate stalwart and the Broker & Owner of the RE/MAX Paramount Properties franchise, started pitching the idea of merging operations with Andrea.

“At face value, Tony and Andrea looked quite different,” Carl says. “But they approached the key philosophical thoughts about the real estate business, their agents, and their operations very much the same —it was pretty impressive.”

Tony—who actually hired Jan Bellamy when she moved to Lakeland, before she established herself in the local market, and eventually went off on her own—jokes that after 30 years, he “is tired of learning,” and combining with Andrea’s agency made good sense because it meant adding his experienced team to Andrea’s veteran team.

“I wanted to do what was right for my agents and keep this ball rolling,” he says. “And she’s smart, she has a financial background and business background, and her husband has a good business background.”

It took time to work out the logistics and determine a long-term office for the combined entity—which in June will be a 7,500 square foot state-of-the-art office at 439 South Florida Ave.—but when the ink dried, Andrea had officially gone from a first-time real estate agent in 2012 to the broker and owner of a brokerage firm with nearly 60 agents in just over a decade.

As skilled as Andrea is at investing in real estate, she is equally passionate about reinvesting back into her hometown.

RE/MAX Experts hosts an annual teddy bear drive for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to provide stuffed animals to children who have experienced trauma.

Dockery is also a supporter of kidsPACK, several of her agents support Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine and RE/MAX gives back to Lighthouse Ministries, among other philanthropic endeavors. Dockery is a member of the South Lakeland Rotary Club, following in the footsteps of her father who was a charter member of Rotary.

Dockery is elated to have the global RE/MAX brand and all of its resources as the wind for her sails. It’s fun to be part of an iconic company where even 5-year-olds worldwide can pick the red, white, and blue balloon logo out of a crowd, but it’s far more important to be part of a culture of excellence that the real estate giant has built in its 51 years of existence.

“Everybody recognizes RE/MAX agents are career professionals because we rarely have rookies,” Andrea says. “We appeal to agents who are already established and ask the question, ‘How do I take my business to the next level?’ That’s our sweet spot.”

Sweet it has indeed been for Dockery.

From 2008 when the brokerage firm totaled $17 million in sales— to 2023 where the firm had grown to $144.9 million in sales volume, she has transformed the company.

She has always approached real estate with the utmost seriousness, because as she says, “a home is the biggest asset most people have outside of their retirement plan—and in some cases it is their retirement plan.” But sometimes a lot of hard-earned serious conversations can turn into a cause for celebration.


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 “A home is the biggest asset most people have outside of their retirement plan—and in some cases it is their retirement plan.”

-Andrea Dockery


In February, when Andrea was presenting her agents with their 2023 awards, she herself was unexpectedly presented with the RE/MAX 2023 Broker of the Year for the State of Florida.

Then in March, Andrea attended the RE/MAX R4 Convention, where thousands of RE/MAX agents and brokers from all over the globe descend on Las Vegas for the annual event. Just as a full day was winding down for her, and Dockery was working with one of her agents to solve a problematic transaction, Dockery received an unexpected call.

“The RE/MAX Southeast Region Director, Derrick Blackard, was on the phone asking me, ‘Hey, are you coming to the awards?’ Then came an urgent text from Franchise Consultant Mark Kershner asking her the same. It’s like 10 minutes until [it begins] I am told, just come on down.” As she approaches the ballroom, people are grabbing her by both arms, taking her shoulder bag from her, propelling her to the backstage stairs where she hears someone say: “Amy (Lessinger, President of RE/MAX LLC) is giving out the first award now; you are number three.”

And on that stage, on the opposite side of the country from where 12 years ago she had been driving past houses her friends might like, she accepted the award given to the top single owned RE/MAX franchise out of more than 3,700 in the United States.

“I was shell shocked…I am still blown away by it,” she says. “The group I work with is just a tremendous group of Realtors and staff—it’s not just me. It’s all of them.”

Carl smiles proudly as his wife recalls the moment, saying he had a “quiet optimism” that Andrea could achieve this level of success.

The couple, both Southwest Middle School attendees, whose families on occasion would cross paths at the old Lakeland Yacht & Country Club in their younger years, found each other in their mid 30’s and have built a beautiful story together. Likewise, Andrea found real estate as a second career of sorts and has been more successful than many real estate lifers ever are. It’s quite a story, but it shouldn’t be that surprising.