Realty Firm Has A Growth Spurt

    CASCADE — A little more than two years ago, eight veteran real estate agents broke ranks with their respective companies to form a branch of Keller Williams Realty here.

    Their number has since swelled to 73 licensed agents, which includes six Realtors who came on board June 1 when Keller Williams and Fletcher Realty Co. merged.

    The new affiliates operate as the Fletcher Group under the Keller Williams name and work out of the Keller Williams office in Cascade.  

    “They saw where we were going, and we approached them about doing something together,” recalled Jon Jackson, Keller Williams’ managing partner.

    “After six months or so and a lot of talking, they decided that would be good for them, so they folded up what they had and came in with us.” 

    Fletcher Realty is the oldest real estate brokerage in Grand Rapids and is credited with spurring development of such areas as Ottawa Hills, Maryland Farms, Gaslight Village, and Cambridge and Plymouth boulevards in East Grand Rapids.

    Fletcher had a long history and a concentration in East Grand Rapids, Cascade and Ada markets. The combined company plans to further penetrate those markets.

    “We deal in all markets but we’ve done especially well in those markets, I think,” Jackson said. 

    Keller Williams’ listings cover a broad range of the homebuyer market in Kent County, with home sales that can range anywhere from $80,000 to as much as $1.2 million, Jackson said. 

    Sales volume is expected to hit $175 million this year, compared to $120 million in 2001.

    Jackson anticipates that within the next 12 months, the Cascade office will expand to about 100 agents and that within a year or two, the company will open another office in Grandville or on the north end of Grand Rapids.  

    “I’ve been in business here for 30 years and I don’t know of another company that has grown to that many agents in 24 months,” Jackson remarked.

    He attributes the growth to the way Keller Williams is run and what it stands for.

    What attracts the majority of agents to the company is its belief system, he said. Its mission statement is: “To build careers worth having, businesses worth owning and lives worth living.”

    Keller Williams follows a brokerage model that emphasizes profit sharing and teamwork.

    Jackson said 48 percent of company profits go to its agents, and he isn’t aware of any other realty company that does that.

    “Every month we take nearly half of our profit and share it with agents who helped us grow.”

    Keller Williams pays a percentage of profits to agents based on their individual contributions to the office and on their ability to recruit other top producers.

    The setup gives agents more opportunity to earn residual income they can save for retirement.

    The other big draw, Jackson believes, is the company’s Agent Leadership Council. 

    “Every year, we take the top 20 percent of agents in this office, and they become our board of directors,” he explained. “They truly make the decisions.

    “No other company in the world that I’m aware of does that. Most are run by the broker from the top down. In our case it’s run by our agents. So it’s a whole different atmosphere when you have your peers making the decisions on how your office is run, as opposed to just the broker.”

    The company also invests in its agents’ professional development.

    As Jackson pointed out, most companies offer a two-week, intensive training program for new agents and then the training is over.

    “We train ongoing — twice a week every week,” he explained. Though attendance is not required, the programs are very well attended, he added. 

    Keller Williams was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

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