How do we define a great company? If you follow the definition used by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins in their popular 1992 book, Built to Last, it’s this: A great company is one that adheres to its core values and purpose over a long period of time, while it creates, evolves and innovates all along the way. In other words, it stays close to its mission and vision and makes adjustments to how it does business on a daily basis as needed.
Organized in 1910 and still going strong today, Frank Howard Allen Realtors fits this definition and wins the “Best of” award for real estate firms in the North Bay in 2008—as it has every year since the category was introduced in 2002.
“To receive this award one more time is a truly great honor,” says company Chairman/CEO Larry Brackett. “In such a competitive business, to receive such recognition from the readers of NorthBay biz is fantastic. There are times when I’ve been concerned that the general public doesn’t recognize the qualities that set our company apart: 98 years in business, privately owned and independent with ownership located right in the communities in which we do business, meaning Marin, Sonoma, Napa and San Francisco counties. These are the markets we’ve chosen, and we’ll focus on them for some time to come.
“In addition, we feel very good about our strong commitment to giving back to the communities we serve, and we’re proud to have built a corporate culture characterized by honesty, competency and trust.”
So what’s the secret to Frank Howard Allen’s success? Says Brackett, “I attribute our success to the ability to identify, hire, support and keep people of exceptional skills and capabilities, who embrace the community-minded values of our company. A significant percentage of our agents have been with us for 10 to 15 years and more. And we’ve added 33 experienced sales associates in the past 90 days.
“We’ve been successful because of our reputation for excellent service delivered with the highest level of honesty and ethics. By hiring exceptional people and providing exceptional service, we’ve been able to create an excellent business.”
In January of this year, Brackett promoted longtime employee Noreen Smith to the positions of president and chief financial officer. Smith is now responsible for the company’s day-to-day activities and reports directly to Brackett as chairman. “Noreen has been with the company for almost two years longer than I have, since 1987,” says Brackett. “My role as Chairman is is to support Noreen and to be a resource for her,” Brackett says.
The company has also brought in a new director of marketing and advertising, Claudia Coury.
When asked about how the company is adjusting to a new real estate market, Brackett tells NorthBay biz, “the real estate market was in transition prior to the mortgage and credit crisis. This required many of our sales associates to relearn the fundamentals of operating a successful, long-lasting real estate business.
“This has particularly been the case for sales associates who entered the business in the past five years or so. They’d never experienced a market with substantial inventory, slower sales, a lack of previously available loan products, short sales and foreclosures. Our response was to develop training practices that would let our people gain the confidence and skills needed to deal with the changing markets and to ultimately provide the highest possible level of service to our clients.”
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