Top Company 2014: Services
Service companies that are hitting milestones
Services winner: RE/MAX
This has been a year of milestones for RE/MAX and its ubiquitous balloon.
The real estate franchise company celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Denver-based firm, founded by Dave and Gail Liniger in 1973, has grown to 94,000 agents in 95 countries. But some people don’t realize the Colorado company is that large, says CEO Margaret Kelly. “My favorite question is, ‘Are you in all 50 states?’” she says. “Friends email me photos of RE/MAX signs and they write, ‘I see you here!’”
It is indeed a worldwide business, with 6,400 offices, most owned by franchisees. The company went public last year, with an initial public offering that Kelly calls a huge undertaking.
“It was a very big change because you have to adjust your accounting, have independent directors and an audit committee,” she says. “It isn’t just ringing the bell.” Last October, the Linigers did ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange after the stock (RMAX) debuted.
As for the balloon, this was its 35th anniversary of the company logo.
RE/MAX has real balloons too, 108 of them in 26 countries, for free flights and tethered rides at school fairs and other community events.
Other community efforts include donating $130 million to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals over the years, and a total of $8 million to Susan G. Komen, the Dallas-based breast cancer organization. Also, franchisees can choose their own causes, so the offices give to local organizations.
The agents are not only charitable but also productive. Several RE/MAX offices and agents were listed in the 2014 Real Trends “The Thousand,” a series of four 250-place rankings of real estate professionals: top individuals by transactions, top teams by transactions, top individuals by sales volume, and top teams by sales volume. RE/MAX agents represented 112 of the 500 transaction rankings for agents and teams combined.
Kelly says RE/MAX attracts more experienced Realtors than other companies. “The new agent coming up really does not fit our model,” she says. “They need education and experience before they become an agent with RE/MAX.” In 2013, they averaged $4.3 million in sales volume, a 26 percent increase over 2012. RE/MAX agents also averaged 17.5 transaction sides, an increase of 4.3 percent compared to 2012.
Last year, RE/MAX launched the luxury listing site, The RE/MAX Collection (theremaxcollection.com). The homes on the site have listing prices at least twice the market’s average.
The housing industry is in the middle of a multi-year recovery, Kelly says. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales totaled $4.89 million in May. Although that was a decrease of 5 percent compared to May 2013, the total was up compared to 2011 and 2012.
“Americans learned when you buy a house it’s a place to live first and an investment second,” Kelly says. “We are getting back to a normal housing market.”
Camp Bow Wow
In just 12 years, Camp Bow Wow, a premier pet care franchiser, has grown to include more than 160 locations across North America. The “camp” concept of boarding provides fun, safety and service for campers, and peace of mind for pet owners, as dogs romp together in an open-play environment, and pricing is all-inclusive. The company brand also includes Home Buddies by Camp Bow Wow for home pet care; Behavior Buddies for premier dog training; and The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives and health of dogs. Founder Heidi Ganahl announced in early August an agreement to sell Camp Bow Wow to Los Angeles-based VCA, a publicly traded pet health-care company. Ganahl plans to remain chief executive and focus
Syntes Language Group Inc.
Syntes Language Group provides customized language solutions in more than 80 languages to a client base that includes Fortune 500 companies and other firms that want to be leaders in the international marketplace. Syntes helps companies achieve this by providing translation, interpretation, conference coordination, desktop publishing and consultation services to all major fields of industry. The company’s stated 18-month goal is to expand to two additional U.S. cities and to increase revenues by approximately 48 percent by 2016. The company took shape under current owner Beatriz Bonnet in 1988 as Houston-based Global Communication. In 1995, she made the Houston office a branch location and relocated the company headquarters to Centennial.