Franchising giant Keller Williams on Tuesday announced that it is expanding operations in the Caribbean with a new franchise on an island off the coast of Venezuela.
The franchise is currently initializing operations and will officially open in the third quarter of this year on the island of Bonaire. Edwin Hekman will lead the franchise, dubbed KW Bonaire, as operating principal. A statement from Keller Williams describes Hekman as “a respected real estate leader in the region” who already leads KW Aruba.
“With Keller Williams’ models and systems in place, opening an office in Bonaire was the next natural step for us,” Hekman said in the statement. “We know what it takes to grow with Keller Williams and believe we can replicate our success in Aruba and bring it to our new office in Bonaire.”
Bonaire lies about 50 miles north of the Venezuelan coast and about 30 miles due east of the island of Curaçao. The island is a part of the Netherlands and is technically classified as a “special municipality” of the European country. The island’s total population is just over 20,000 people, with about half living in the capital city of Kralendijk.
Bonaire’s primary industry is tourism. The official administrative language of the island is Dutch, though a majority of the island’s residents speak the Creole language Papiamento as their native tongue.
Keller Williams’ statement on the Bonaire franchise notes that the company is currently exploring further expansion opportunties across much of the globe. International growth has been a bright spot for the company recently. Keller Williams’ latest earnings report, for example, revealed that during the first quarter of 2022, its agent count outside the U.S. and Canada increased by 21.6 percent year-over-year, to a total of 15,700. Recent earnings reports from the company have indicated that such international numbers are outpacing growth on Keller Williams’ home turf in the U.S.
The expansion into Bonaire comes about a month and a half after Keller Williams announced that it was opening a franchise in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The Middle East country has long been a challenging market for American companies to enter.
Additionally, in December Keller Williams announced a new franchise in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in 2019, the company expanded into Morocco.
Such announcements, including this week’s news about a franchise in Bonaire, highlight Keller Williams’ willingness to push into new frontiers.
In Tuesday’s statement, William E. Soteroff, president of Keller Williams Worldwide, revealed that the company currently has 11 offices, or “market centers,” and 578 agents collectively across the Caribbean. He also said he was “thrilled” by the Bonaire announcement and Hekman’s leadership.
“The credit for our quarter after quarter of aggressive international growth belongs to our thriving entrepreneurial agents, fueled by our powerful technology, training and business models,” Soteroff added in the statement. “Our pipeline remains strong for new worldwide regions.”