Making the World a Better Place

Making the World a Better Place

He’s got a servant’s heart and a passion for turning real estate transactions into opportunities for making a positive difference in the world.

Tom Sturm, lead agent and owner of Tom Sturm Group, a division of Coldwell Banker West Shell (CBWS), does his best to never to let a day go by without helping others.

Sturm’s motto, “Making A Difference Where You Live,” has evolved into a program offering each client the chance, at a transaction’s closing, to select one of six charitable organizations to which their agent will contribute a portion of their commission on their client’s behalf.

His ministry-driven approach to real estate can’t help but shine through as he and his team go about their daily business.

“Tom just wakes up to serve people,” says Emma Ripperger, licensed real estate agent and Sturm’s executive assistant. She started out as Sturm’s file clerk several years ago when she was a high school junior. “We never know exactly what we might be doing on a day-to-day basis. We may be installing a garage opener, or he might pull up in front of the office with the back of his car filled with mulch for a client. Tom is always going the extra mile for his clients. He serves them from his heart, 110 percent.”

Lorra Ripperger, Emma’s mother and a licensed CBWS realtor for the past 17 years, is Sturm’s buyer’s agent and shares the group’s commitment to bringing Sturm’s personal and business philosophy to life.

“‘Making A Difference Where You Live’ is so much more than a slogan or a tagline to Tom,” Lorra notes.

It’s his natural manner, his ministerial modus operandi, if you will. Throughout his 25-year real estate career, every client has symbolized much more than a financial transaction. And that resonates across his team.

“They become our friends and family. They’re never just a number. We always have our clients’ best interests at heart,” Lorra says.

A cohesive spirit combined with benevolent enthusiasm infuses the Tom Sturm Group with can-do pluck and a will-do purpose.

“We work well together, and we are each goal-driven toward giving our clients an amazing real estate experience, and making the world a better place,” Lorra adds.

Contributing to the Greater Good

Before he broke into real estate, Sturm, a lifelong Cincinnati resident, was a youth minister.

“I was a seminary undergrad, worked in youth ministry, and when I left the ministry and went into real estate, I did not want to lose that serving attitude,” Sturm recalls.

“Making A Difference Where You Live,” as both a philosophy and a specific program, is two-fold, he says. First, as a real estate agent, Sturm was, and still is, determined to make a difference in his clients’ lives regarding where they live, what they’re purchasing and how his team can best transform the experience of buying/selling a home into more than a financial transaction.

“We invite our clients to become part of our family – this giant real estate family we’ve been blessed to serve for so many years,” Sturm says.

Secondly, by giving a portion of their commission from each real estate transaction to one of a half dozen of their earmarked philanthropic organizations, Sturm and his team regularly heed the call to contribute to the greater good.

Those organizations, each with a set financial goal, include, among others, Habitat for Humanity Cincinnati, Coldwell Banker West Shell Foundation Christ in Youth, and Lift Ministries. The overall goal is to donate $20,000 over the course of 200 transactions.

“Everyone can make a difference. And if we can make a difference on the journey through the real estate transaction, the impact has an ongoing ripple-effect,” Sturm says.

The program was inspired, in part, by Sturm’s recent church trip to Haiti. What he and his family witnessed in the outlying villages was eye-opening and heartbreaking, he says. No electricity. No plumbing. When it rains, children – living barefoot with their parents in meager tent dwellings – must be lifted onto cots as the water washes disease through their tents and down the hills. By the end of this year, however, thanks to “Making A Difference Where You Live” and Tom Sturm Group’s client-directed contributions to Lift Ministries in Haiti, one family will have a decent home.

“’Making A Difference Where You Live’ has always been my guiding philosophy,” Sturm says. “It’s our touchstone. It keeps us centered. The best thing is, the only competition we have is how to out-give each other.”

For more information about the Tom Sturm Group, call 513.470.8785, email or visit

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