Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.

Steve Caswell

Steve Caswell


Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.


Death of a Team

(Published on - 8/6/2023 12:20:54 PM)

Based on what I can see in our Blog – ugh, excuse me – my Blog, the last post was from mid-summer 2020 in the midst of Covid-19.  As most of you are aware, LOTS has changed since that last writing…..

To fully explain the title of this blog, I’m going to take the story back, then back further, and back even further…..

In 2005, I was suffering from herniated discs in my neck that were basically immobilizing me.  I was working for Big Brothers of Sudbury as Development Officer at the time, but my issues caused me to walk away – ugh, excuse me – slouch away as I was incapable of fulfilling my duties due to my condition.

As I’ve done my whole life, since losing both my parents by the age of 20, I looked at my options and realized the timing was good for me to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and get my real estate licence.  With my limited mobility and the availability of online courses, the wheels were in motion for me to bear down and take that new direction in life.

I was licenced in June of 2006, my mobility had improved, and I was running at full speed in those scorching markets of 2006/2007.  My career had taken off at light speed and I was busy.  In fact, too busy according to my wife, Michelle, and we decided it was time for her to get her licence and join me.

In 2008, “The Caswell Team” was born.  We were just a pair, but we were both Caswells and the “team” concept was really starting to take off in the industry, so we opted to join the “team world” in advertising.  That said, we were a team – we were partners in everything and being wholly interchangeable allowed us both to still enjoy our individual free time while the other stepped in.

In 2013, we began looking at expanding our reach into the southern climes of Mexico.  We knew there was a risk involved with leaving our business in Sudbury unattended for the winter months, but then opportunity presented itself in the form of Gary Doyle.

I had caught wind that “Doyler” was getting licenced in real estate.  Here was a successful businessman, a good friend that I had enjoyed a multitude of rounds with, both golf and beer, and the possibility of mutual benefit for Doyler to join two experienced Realtors® to start his career while giving Michelle and I the confidence that our clients would still be fully served while we were South.

For the first couple of years, things were rolling along really well.  In fact, we had a team meeting in the Spring of 2018 where we realized that bringing in an additional team member would be beneficial.  At that meeting, only one name came to mind – Amanda Gervais.

We approached “Gerv” and she is a very diligent operator.  She didn’t instantly say yes, but after she did her homework and realized the mutual benefits to all of us, the team expanded once again.

We were rolling.  Of course, things aren’t always perfect.  In a team setting it’s natural for some individualism to pop up, often in real estate, and we regularly had frank discussions about referrals, who’s clients were whose, etc.  No matter what, we always got back to the basics of just making sure we remained fully interchangeable and the clients were always served.

Going even farther back, I coached Lo-Ellen Park High School hockey team for nine years after I was Captain of the team for two.  For 11 years, I was engulfed in this team.  We were never a dynasty, although my first year playing was pretty close.  When I was Coach, we worked hard as hell to often land middle of the pack in the standings.  Hell, I used to have to fish the hallways just to recruit enough bodies to field a team. 

The one thing that never changed was that room full of guys, who were just a group of somewhat random guys at the first tryout, would always turn into a fortified unit that would do anything possible to not let another teammate down.  We all became close, and continue to be to this day, but at some point the season would end, the gear would be thrown into the middle of the room to go back into storage for the summer and everyone would walk out the door to pursue their own path – whatever was best for that individual person.  We all still had that time together that we’d remember as the “good ole’ days”.

Dynasty teams ebb and flow constantly.  Going even farther back, Edmonton Oilers in the 80’s ring a bell?  The Great One, Kurri, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr, Anderson and even Semenko.  They were amazing and every time I went to the Jets game in Winnipeg when the Oilers were in town, I hoped the Jets could pull it off, but I knew the Oilers were just too good.

Breaking News – Gretzky is off the Los Angeles Kings.  Messier is off to the Rangers.  How does a dynasty just break apart like this?  Although they’re likely all still close friends that remember the good ole’ days of being part of one of the greatest NHL teams of all time, they individually chose to do what was best for them, for their families, and bid farewell to the team for the next chapter in their life.

History is full of this.  As a diehard Colts fan, I hate Tom Brady, but he’s a recent prime example.  A-Rod coming off his second golden glove and being traded.  Wilt Chamberlain got traded to LA the year he wins MVP.  All pro sports have these tales of the hot hands in the game moving on from the dynasty they had helped create.

In December of 2019, while I was pushing off the dock in Cabo for a day of deep-sea fishing, I got a call from Doyler.  “Caz, I really appreciate everything you guys have done, but I’m going to go out on my own starting next year.” 

I can’t say I was shocked – this is a common occurrence in real estate.  We all start somewhere and are trained by our Broker and/or other agents in the office.  Eventually most Realtors® feel they’ve gained enough confidence to be on their own or have enough experience to know there are other options that may be more beneficial to their situation. 

This happened to Michelle and I when we moved from Smith Realty over to Realty Executives of Sudbury – it was purely a financial decision that put Michelle and I in a better position moving forward as much as it hurt us on a personal level leaving John and Luke.  However, business decisions cannot be emotional if you want to be successful.

In January 2020, the Caswell Team was down to three.  We had all wished Doyler well and refined the processes to fit our new trifecta situation.  Then all hell broke loose…..

Covid hits the world and Mishe and I are trapped in Cabo.  Amazingly, the real estate market goes completely off the charts and Gerv is swamped with taking care of all of our clients at once while still being a full-time, pandemic mom.  We eventually commit to driving back to Sudbury only to arrive in early July and Gerv is exhausted.  It’s now mine and “Mishe’s” turn to carry the team for Gerv.  Then, again, even bigger hell broke loose….

As you all know, Mishe was diagnosed with Glioblastoma in Sept 2020.  This disease is a short-term death sentence for most.  I had to put real estate essentially on hold, jumping in to help Gerv when I could leave my full-time caregiver role for brief shots.  Gerv was back in full speed, carrying the team once again, although I would be neglectful if I didn’t acknowledge the entire office and even close friend Realtors® from other brokerages who stepped up to help Mishe and I out during this difficult time.

In Sept 2021, Mishe lost her battle and left a gaping hole in the team, in our lives and in our hearts.  Although we all knew it was coming, it was still overwhelming.  After almost 13 months as full-time, 24/7 caregiver, and after losing my partner in everything, my best friend and the love of my life, real estate was the farthest thing from my mind.  In all honesty, I wouldn’t have been able to provide “competent service” to my clients in my state, as I am legally bound to do, so I took off back South for the winter while Gerv continued to carry the full weight of the team.

In 2022, Gerv and her hubby, Stefano, came for a visit to Cabo.  It was bittersweet as Mishe always wanted them to come down for vacation.  So, here they were, but we were missing the main puzzle piece.  It was a great visit with great friends and my remaining teammate; however, I knew the end was already in sight. 

There were no longer four of us, there was only one Caswell left and, at this point, it realistically should’ve been The Gerv Team featuring me as a part-time assistant.  Like all dynasties, the discussion of dissolvement had begun as Gerv discussed other possibilities for advancement for her career moving forward while I was coming out of a fog looking at reigniting mine.  The end of an era was approaching and there was nothing that could be done.

I attempted to bring on another close friend as a teammate.  The energy was exciting as I started looking at a rebuild, however the excitement was short lived as she walked away from the team shortly after joining with no explanation.  This was the wake up call I needed.

The team was dead.  There was no bringing it back, at this moment anyway, and I am moving forward once again as a lone wolf.  As I mentioned earlier, I have survived a shitload of “life experience” and have always grinded my way through and out of it.  This was no different and, like others, it was time for me to look at my individual needs instead of through the eyes of an “us” lens.  This concept wasn’t new to me, but it had been since Michelle got her licence in 2008 that I solely looked at my real estate career as just me.

The great “reset” has begun.  As I created all the team website content from scratch, it has been a tough process changing the “we” to “I”, “our” to “my” and de-pluralizing.  Every time I remove an “s” from “agents” or I have to delete pics of Mishe and Gerv from the marketing - one reminds me of my greatest loss while the other reminds me of who was so amazing at stepping in to keep my business rolling through it all so I still had all I worked for over the last 17 years to come back to.  It all reminds me that I am once again singular in real estate.

Now, this wasn’t meant to be “dark”, but there was importance in explaining the title.  Would the team still be together if Mishe didn’t leave us?  Eventually it would have dissipated, undoubtedly, as teams never last in perpetuity – individual needs and circumstances will always trump these situations and rightfully so.  We only get one crack at this life, so do what’s best for you. 

The history of real estate is full of Realtors® and Brokers that have been successful on their own – which I was in the two years before Mishe got in the game.  Just because I no longer have a team to refer to in my marketing, doesn’t mean I don’t have a team full of office colleagues, mortgage brokers, lawyers and all professional services attached to the process.

There are benefits to flying solo once again.  I used to spend a considerable amount of time on backend team management stuff, now I’ve got time to write longwinded blogs again!  I used to have to run things by the team before posting, now I can fuckin’ swear anytime I want and hit “post”.  I can spend more direct focus on how to make myself better instead of worrying about how to make the team or my teammates better.  Most importantly, I have more time for my clients.

Let it be known that The Caswell Team is officially dead.  I won’t resurrect it as it will never be the same without my #1 teammate.  Some things can’t be undone, and some things should remain undone out of respect and to avoid stirring too many emotions.  I may be inclined to get another team rolling in the future if the opportunity were to present itself, but that will be a group of individuals all deciding that it’s in each of our best interests to do so and it won’t be heavily weighted with “Caswells” at the onset or require my name in lights.

I hereby bid farewell to The Caswell Team and thank my teammates for the exceptional run and the dynasty we leave behind.  I know Gerv and Doyler are still in the office with me if I ever need some help, and they know that is reciprocal, but this will be good for me, my soul and my mind, to soar solo again for now as I grind out of this new challenge life threw at me.

Let’s fuckin’ do this – ugh, I mean – I’m gonna fuckin’ do this.

Broker Caz

Steve Caswell


Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd, Brokerage

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact me immediately at



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