photo by Todd Baker
Missy and Pat
Missy Neu with her former teacher Pat Cooper
Together, Pat and Missy are currently experiencing one of life’s true full-circle moments. Missy has recently joined Pat on the leadership team at Hodnett Cooper Real Estate on St. Simons Island, continuing a relationship that began when Missy was in first grade at Frederica Academy.
Pat was a recent college graduate teaching elementary school and Missy was one of her first students. Pat remembers Missy well as one of the brightest learners: “She was just a sponge.” Pat says Missy’s independence, leadership and talent for negotiation were evident even in first grade when Missy convinced a carpool parent to drop her off at an unsupervised household, then hitchhiked back to the sitter’s house when she realized the gig was up. Missy’s drive for success was also obvious— Pat’s reward system of bubble gum balls was perfect for a girl who always wanted her jar to be full.
Missy’s memories of that time are less vivid, but just as fond. She remembers Pat taking the class to McDonald’s and to the beach, and how, as a teacher, Pat would let her shine.
Missy continued through school and Pat continued teaching. Meanwhile Pat’s father, Roy Hodnett, was busy building the company known today as Hodnett Cooper. Pat eventually joined her father and since 1984, they have built the largest, most comprehensive real estate company in Glynn County.
After graduation, Missy earned her real estate license and over the years, their paths continued to cross. Missy and Pat worked together on real estate transactions and often served on the same boards, associations and committees. Their relationship evolved from teacher-student to community stewards to colleagues to friends. They both believe in hard work and community service, with a healthy balance of fun.
In 2008, when Missy made a career change, Pat began to exercise her negotiation skills. “Every time I saw Missy, I’d plant a seed,” Pat says, “I’d tell her ‘when you’re ready to get back into real estate, come talk to me.’” And in what they both describe as perfect timing, Missy has returned to real estate at Hodnett Cooper.
Today, both women are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and both enjoy learning from the other. “We’re not scared to take smart risks—and Missy can take that vision and run with it,” explains Pat. Two strong, successful negotiators are bound to experience some challenges working together. Luckily, they both enjoy a good debate and are able to listen, compromise and come to an agreeable decision in the end. “Part of what we do every day in real estate and community service is bring people together while keeping the goal of the project in mind,” said Missy, “when we keep the goal in mind, we can work our way through almost any difference.”
Success in business has not diminished either’s civic commitment. The Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Relay for Life, and the American Cancer Society have all felt a measurable impact because of Pat’s and Missy’s efforts.
Pat and Missy’s combined commitment to lead Hodnett Cooper through the next phase is a true meeting of the minds. They share the same attitude about work and life in general. And after over 35 years of teaching, learning, growing and building a friendship based on mutual respect, it is easy to see a bright future ahead. With Missy’s input and support, Pat continues to focus on the vision of the company. And Missy not only focuses on the company’s direction, but also continues to list and sell properties. Coming full circle, now this student and teacher learn from each other every day. Pat says, “We’re going to aim for the stars, and we’re going to enjoy getting there.”