Gary Keller

Co-Founder and Chairman, Keller Williams Realty Intl.

Overall Rank: 3
Category: Corporate Execs
Category Rank: 2

The company began the year as the largest residential real estate brand in the world by agent count with 133,000. In its third quarter 2016 report, the firm stated it had over 152,000 agents worldwide, an increase of over 14 percent from the previous year, making it the first company in residential real estate to break the 150,000 mark.

But Keller Williams did not just add bodies. All numbers for the first nine months of 2016 are impressive:

  • 740,000 closed transactions, up 15.5 percent from the same period in 2015.

  • Sales volume of $207 billion, up 18.9 percent from the same period in 2015.

  • Brokerage profit, which Keller Williams calls “owner profit,” of $142 million, up 14.2 percent from the same period in 2015.

    2015 was a year of change and transition for Keller Williams, with long-time CEO Mark Willis and president Mary Tennant stepping down in February. The new duo of Chris Heller and John Davis took over without missing a beat, and have just completed their first full year as leaders of the company. A bulk of the credit must, however, go to the one constant at the top of the company: its widely admired and loved leader Gary Keller. He rises this year to the third spot on the SP200 on the strength of his unquestioned leadership in building a phenomenal company, culture and following.

    In fact, one may wonder if industry leader Realogy’s recent moves in changing compensation models and hiring senior executives for growth and operations are not a response to Keller Williams, which Realogy chief Richard Smith has called out as a competitive threat in the past.

    Keller Williams is a pioneer. Some of its practices, including caps on agent commissions paid to brokerages, profit sharing and an unapologetically agent-centric model and philosophy, are being widely adopted by others.

    Keller is a prolific writer with multiple New York Times best-selling books; he has written more books than all the CEOs of the top 10 real estate franchise companies combined. His books include: “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent,”

    “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor,” “SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times,” and “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.”

    Gary Keller also gets our nod as the most strategic thinker in residential real estate.