A well-known Bahamian real estate firm is celebrating its 75th anniversary thanks to its founder spotting the island's second home potential just after the Second World War ended.
Nick Damianos, a descendant of Greek immigrants who arrived in Nassau in the late 1800s to set up a sponge exporting business, saw that the opening of Oakes Field, the Bahamas' first airport, would open the country to tourism and increased visitors.
Already established with straw, lobster and car businesses, his decision to expand into real estate led to the creation of what is now Damianos Sotheby's International Realty.
"The post-World War II economy was creating a boom around the world, and even back then The Bahamas was on track to become a popular destination due to our proximity to the US and our status as a safe and financially-stable Commonwealth Country," said George Damianos, the company's current chief executive.
Nick Damianos started the company with a small office at the top of Frederick Street in downtown Nassau, working alongside his long-time employee, Al Deleveaux.
"My father was a people person. Wherever he went around Nassau, he knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He never met a stranger," said George Damianos. "So he didn't need a huge staff to get the business rolling. He said that honesty and integrity were the key to his success, and he impressed that upon me when I entered the business myself in 1972."
By that time, Nick Damianos had moved the company's office to Shirley Street, directly across from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). Its downtown office remains located there today.
In 1985, George's sister, Virginia, joined the family business and the two remained dedicated to following Nick's business philosophy of relying on relationship building to provide the best possible service to clients.
"I've known some of my clients for over 40 years, and whether they are current clients or not, we're in touch on a regular basis socially and professionally. They are a part of the fabric of our company," said George Damianos.
In 1995, Nick passed away and left the business to George and Virginia.
Virginia's daughter, Lana, joined her mother and uncle as an estate agent as did George's son, Nick. The firm began to expand across New Providence and into the Family Islands, opening a total of nine offices throughout The Bahamas within 15 years.
"My mother's passion was this business and our team," Lana Rademaker, Damianos Sotheby's chief brokerage officer, added. "She was a stickler for professionalism and ethics. She always made decisions that were in the best interest of our clients, working tirelessly until her passing in 2014. Not a sales meeting goes by when someone doesn't quote something Mum would say. Her spirit continues to inspire this team."
Damianos Realty purchased a Sotheby's International Realty franchise in 2005 to take its current name, Damianos Sotheby's International Realty.
"Purchasing the Sotheby's International Realty franchise was not a decision we took lightly," said George Damianos. "At that point our business had been independently run and successful for 60 years.
"So, ultimately, we together with our family came to the conclusion that being associated with a brand as distinctive as Sotheby's International Realty and gaining access to their wealth of contacts, partnerships and technology platforms would allow us to serve our clients that much better now and in the future."
Fifty-two names now feature among the company's staff - a far cry from the mere two that occupied the Frederick Street office in 1945. "We consider our staff members to be a part of our family, and the true story behind our success," Ms Rademaker said.
"We are a tight-knit group. This is something my mother, Virginia Damianos, cultivated during her years as George's business partner, and it's a principle I strive to maintain in her stead. We sincerely care for one another, and I think people sense that when we're out and about in the community.
"We are fortunate to have been a part of this community for the past 75 years, and we're proud of our family's history and what we've accomplished together. We look forward to continuing to evolve over the next 75 years, and to adapting with the needs of our clients and colleagues."