Charles Hilbert has a laser focus on growth when it comes to his real estate business.
Among the keys to achieving success are having good people and creating a culture where they can thrive on the job, he said.
“It’s all about our agents,” said Hilbert, operating principal of Keller Williams Realty Greater Rochester.
Keller Williams came in second in the most recent Rochester Business Journal list of residential real estate firms, ranked by number of local agents.
The company had 286 licensed Realtors in 2016. That number has already increased to roughly 300, and Hilbert, who is known as Chuck, is expecting to increase employment to 435 this year. The firm also has some 15 employees who handle administration.
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.
Hilbert merged his family firm, Hilbert Realty, with Keller Williams in 2009. Hilbert and Sharon Quataert started the local franchise in 2009. Hilbert bought out Quataert roughly two years ago.
The local operation is part of Texas-based Keller Williams Realty, which is the largest real estate franchise company in the United States. It has nearly 140,000 associates in over 790 markets across the globe.
There are two market centers here, one in Brighton and the other in Greece. Each has roughly 1,000 square feet dedicated to training and consulting.
Keller Williams is opening a third location this March, Hilbert said. It will be located on Route 332 in Canandaigua, where Flowers by Stella used to be housed, and employ a minimum of 50 agents, Hilbert said.
The new location will focus on properties in and around Ontario, Livingston, Seneca and Yates counties.
Susan Glenz will be the operating principal of the Canandaigua office. She was named Keller Williams Greater Rochester Rookie of the Year in 2013.
Glenz said Keller Williams is different from a more traditional real estate company. The focus it puts on agent training and consulting is second to none and allows for growth, she said.
Hilbert’s goal is to be the top producing real estate firm in the region in the next five years.
Closed sales volumes have continued to grow. In 2016 they were $372 million, and Hilbert projects closed sales volume will hit $525 million in 2017.
One of the company’s biggest challenges to growth and home appreciation are high property taxes, he said. Efforts to reduce property tax rates will cause appreciation in homes and draw business to the community, Hilbert has said.
Since the firm’s success is driven by its agents, a key element of the business is 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. In 2006, more than $400,000 was given back to local agents in profit-sharing.
Keller Williams’ track record of success is helping the firm add to its associate base, Hilbert said.
He plans to grow the firm by creating a culture of doing the right thing for people beyond the business deal.
A key to the firm’s success is a focus on promoting a culture of leadership in the company instead of having a top-down management style.
“We are making a difference by changing the way people do business,” Hilbert said.
The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2017 Rochester Top 100 event is slated to be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.
Keller Williams Realty Greater Rochester
Real estate company
Year founded: 2009
Top executive: Charles Hilbert, operating principal
Current employment: 300
2016 ranking: 76
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