By all rights, George Smith and Patrick Grabill ought to be kicking back and enjoying retirement. Instead, after 38 years apiece in residential real estate--and in one of the worst downturns the industry has known--the longtime friends and competitors decided to team up and establish Prudential Metrix Realtors.

Smith, 82, worked in just about every management role at HER Realtors, departing as vice chairman of the board and broker of record in April--the same month he and Grabill filed the papers forming Metrix. Grabill, 60, owned King Thompson Realtors from the early 1980s until 2001, when he sold the business to Coldwell Banker.

This time of year, Smith likes the warmth of his Florida home on Marco Island. Grabill has been investing and doing some development in recent years, but still loves the real estate biz. "I suck at retirement," he says. "I tried it; I'm no good at it. We like the interaction, the activity, the people, the business of real estate."

At Prudential Metrix, Grabill is president, Smith executive vice president. They've hired 50 employees and expect soon to have four offices, in Upper Arlington, Polaris/Westerville, Riverside Drive/Dublin and Grove City.

Executive-priced housing and relocation services will be focuses at Metrix. Nationally, Grabill says, Prudential's "average sale price is $100,000 higher" than the closest competitor, so high-end home listings are a natural target.

Among Metrix's early hires is Geri Van Lent, former head of relocation for HER. Grabill calls Van Lent Central Ohio's "matriarch of relocation work," and cites corporate relocation as another Prudential strength and "an underserved segment" in the industry.

It's a tough time to be launching a new brokerage, no doubt, but, jokes Smith, "I never said we were smart. We're brave."

Reprinted from the February 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.