Over 40 years after co-founding independent Northern Colorado brokerage The Group Inc. with 11 other real estate professionals, Larry Kendall is moving on and handing over the reins to new leadership.
He has named two senior appointments to take over the company known for its high agent productivity. Current vice president and COO Brandon Wells will assume the role of president effective January 1, and Doug Miller, a Group Inc. veteran, has replaced Kendall as chairman.
Wells, who is in his 30s, has sold real estate, managed a real estate office, and started with The Group Inc. in December 2014 as CTO. He came from Coldwell Banker Legacy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“The first time I met [Brandon] I was impressed by his combination of smarts and humility,” Kendall said. “I’ve never met someone with Brandon’s skill set in technology who also connects so well with our people at a human level.”
Coming from a strong tech background, Wells says the brokerage’s priorities will be all about the consumer experience under his leadership.
By analyzing friction points, he is working on providing a service that makes the transaction more friendly and compressed. Through The Group Inc.’s joint venture with Cornerstone Mortgage, the company has started a dialogue via its Group Mortgage arm to cut signed mortgage documentation in half at closing, according to Wells.
“We all need to recalibrate, retool and stop ourselves from being Realtor-centric and be more consumer-centric,” Wells said.
Kendall retired officially in July 1 of this year as chairman — he is focusing now on promoting and expanding Ninja Selling, the training program he founded in 1994 that has over 50,000 graduates in the U.S., Canada and Spain.
In his early 70s, Kendall is still a presence at the brokerage as chairman emeritus. He keeps an office at one of the brokerage’s locations, out of which Ninja Selling conducts regular “installations” for real estate agents from across the country.
Since its early days The Group Inc. has strived for high agent output. Kendall remembers going to a Real Trends event in Dallas in the early 1990s where his company was given the award for being the most productive brokerage in the country.
There he met Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams, and he recalls a conversation they had about their goals — Keller’s to expand massively, and Kendall’s to achieve high productivity.
Looking back, Kendall concludes: “We both got our vision. He is a big giant and I am a small giant.”
The Group Inc. currently has 209 partner agents and six offices. In 2016, the company’s top 35 partners had income above $300,000 while the top 53 earned $250,000 plus. Agent productivity in 2016 was almost 24 transactions per partner while for rookies it is generally 12 transactions in the first year.
The company posted $1.7 billion in sales volume in 2016 and the tally so far in 2017 is $1.54 billion, as of late October.
It seems that as president, Wells will follow in Kendall’s footsteps in pushing against the status quo. In the early days, Kendall dared to advertise a property’s price and address in the newspapers when it was seen as unethical by the local board.
He has also made his agents stakeholders in the business; all agents joining the company have to buy a certain number of shares in the brokerage, which means by the time they retire, they have a nice nest egg.
“We have an ownership mindset, that we are in this together,” Kendall said.