While annual sales at Keller Williams Realty Inc. Greater Rochester have increased each year since the company was founded locally, broker/operating principal Chuck Hilbert said it does not define the firm-its associates do.
"If you are in the business just to make money, we are not the right company for you," said Hilbert, adding he looks for real estate agents with passion and conviction.
Since the firm's success is driven by its agents, a focus is on giving back to them, he said.
Keller Williams has a profit-sharing program in which 48 percent of the company's profit is returned to its associates. Since 2009, the local operation has returned over $310,000 to its agents.
Hilbert and Sharon Quataert, broker/operating principal, started the local franchise in 2009. It is part of Texas-based Keller Williams Realty, which is the largest real estate franchise company in the United States, with some 700 offices and 80,000 associates around the world.
Since its opening in the area, sales have grown. Keller Williams logged sales of $170.1 million in 2012, up from $121.4 million in 2011 and $92.2 million in 2010.
Employment also has grown. The firm has 187 associates. The majority are licensed Realtors, but a dozen are office staffers.
Local employment grew to 153 in 2011 from 105 in 2010.
Keller Williams' track record of success and potential for growth play a role in helping the firm add to its associate base, Hilbert said.
After getting his real estate license in 1986, Hilbert-a graduate of St. Bonaventure University-went to work with his father and sister, who had started their own real estate business. In his first year on the job, Hilbert sold 42 homes.
He incorporated the family business into the local Keller Williams operation when he and Quataert started the firm.
The vision for the Rochester region is to have three to four strategically placed market centers, which are offices that will accommodate 200 or more agents and have an education room called a learning center for daily training and consulting, Hilbert said.
There are two market centers here-one in Brighton led by Hilbert and the other in Greece run by Quataert. Each has roughly 1,000 square feet dedicated to training and consulting.
By 2015, Hilbert expects Keller Williams to have more than 500 agents and anticipates being the largest real estate company in the Rochester region.
"I see us having 30 percent of the (real estate) agency count in the Rochester region," Hilbert said.
He plans to grow the firm by creating a culture of doing the right thing for people beyond the business deal.
He also wants to expand commercial and luxury offerings. This year, the local franchise is introducing its KW commercial division with three commercial Realtors. Hilbert expects that new group to grow to 15 agents by the end of the year. Other plans include a formal luxury homes division, starting this year or early next year, focused on homes selling for $500,000 and up.
Focusing on growth will continue to be the priority for the remainder of 2013, Hilbert said. His goal is to outpace the industry, relying in part on a strong Internet presence and an active role in social media outlets.
Quataert says Keller Williams' business model is a driving force behind its success. That includes the profit-sharing program, as well as the interdependent network it has formed with its real estate associates that gives them freedom to conduct business, coupled with the training and support Keller Williams provides.
"It's not only refreshing; there was a need for this type of model in the realty community," Quataert said.
A challenge for the company is raising name awareness in a market where others have had a longer presence, Hilbert said.
Glen Didas, sales manager for Homestead Funding Corp., has worked with Keller Williams for more than a year. The firm's success is due largely to the way management treats its associates, he said.
"They are definitely all about their agents," Didas said. "It's an agent-run company."
The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.
Keller Williams Realty Inc. Greater Rochester Real estate company
2012 ranking: 80
Top executive: Chuck Hilbert, Sharon Quataert, brokers/operating principals
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