As published in the Memphis Business Journal, June 7, 2004 edition.

 

by Jane Aldinger, staff writer

 

Founded by two unassuming home salesmen, Crye-Leike Realtors has matured into a regional real estate powerhouse with an aggressive growth strategy and a booming franchise business that has landed the company as the No. 10 largest residential brokerage firm in the nation.

Crye-Leike is ranked No. 28 on the Memphis Business Journal's Top 100 Private Companies list with $126.6 million in revenues in 2003. Crye-Leike was No. 33 on last year's list with 2002 revenues of $108.4 million.

Harold Crye and Dick Leike founded the company in 1977 in Memphis with "two people that sold houses," Crye says.

Humble about their success, Crye and Leike both attribute the company's impressive statistics to their support staff of agents and employees.

"If you surround yourself with good people, you'll find success," Leike says. "If we can get a few people to go to work, we'll pay the bills."

Crye-Leike is doing more than just paying the bills, though. With a closed sales volume of $3.6 billion in 2003, the company ranks No. 24 in REAL Trends' national sales ranking volume.

"We thought maybe 20 agents -- that would be pretty good," Crye says about the founders' thoughts when the company was born. The company has grown into a full-service real estate firm with over 2,800 sales associates in 71 branch and franchise offices in six states.

"I think we were just hoping to survive and pay the bills at that time," Leike says. "Now, it grows itself if we do what we're supposed to be doing."

Crye-Leike also posted in the residential real estate publication's annual rankings as the No. 10 largest and most successful residential brokerage firm in the country and as the No. 7 largest privately owned and independent real estate company.

Crye-Leike offers its customers a full spectrum of real estate services including residential real estate, relocation, commercial business and investment real estate, property leasing and management, development and construction, REO and foreclosure, mortgage lending, insurance, title, home, auction, apartment locator, franchise sales and builder resource.

"Consumers want one-stop shopping," Crye says, and that's why the company has incorporated all of a homeowner's needs under one company umbrella.

Crye-Leike started franchising its name about three years ago because Crye says they kept getting calls from smaller towns.

"We just couldn't get to them quickly enough," he says.

So the company started licensing the Crye-Leike name and Web site capabilities to franchisees, and both say that regional franchises are becoming a trend as it goes along with industry consolidation.

The company currently has 18 franchise offices in smaller markets. The owners expect that number to increase to nearly 100 franchises within the next several years. Low interest rates have fueled home sales, but Crye and Leike are confident that as long as interest rates stay moderate, they will sell homes.

"People buy and sell whether it's a good or bad market," Crye says.

Crye and Leike are storming their active markets and trying to remain ahead of the competition focusing on their four major markets: Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Little Rock.

"Everything else is a competitor, and we can handle competition," Crye says.

Crye and Leike are both still active in sales and in local associations including the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. A service-oriented approach is the key to any successful business, and the company's two founders insist that providing a comprehensive and quality service is what has allowed them to accomplish so much.

"If we're the largest, it must mean we're doing the best service," Crye says. "That's the only way somebody can do better."

 

CONTACT staff writer Jane Aldinger at 259-1727 or jaldinger@bizjournals.com