Keller Williams History

The Keller Williams History – As Told by Gary Keller

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I have heard Gary Keller refer to the company that he co founded with Joe Williams in 1983 as the grand experiment.

The experiment was to create a real estate company that:
– Put Agents First. And didn’t just say they did, but actually created a system that ensured that it was agent-centric in all of it operations.
– existed to support the agents.
– created a real estate company that understood and realized that they reason that the company was successful was because the agent were successful, and not the other way around.
– empowered the agents to make decisions. Not just decisions on small matters, but matters that actually impacted the bottom line of the business.
shared the profits. And kept sharing them.
– Opened the Books and showed the agents where “their” money was going.

What started as a grand experiment is now the #1 real estate company in Agent Count, Sales Volume and Total Sales.

In this video, Gary Keller Shares the story behind the creation of the company and the vision that allowed a single real estate office in Austin Texas to grow into a franchise that has been named the most innovative in the real estate industry.

The experiment has paid off. By focusing on being a business centered on the sales associates and not the broker, Keller Williams has grown through its laser like focus on technology, training, education, leadership development and a culture that is studied by universities and other Fortune 500 businesses.

Keller Williams History- The Story Behind the Growth

Hi, I’m Gary Keller and I’m here to share with you the history of our company, Keller Williams Realty. Keller Williams is unique. We put our agents first and work tirelessly to identify and meet their needs. We are simply one of the most innovative and successful real estate companies on the planet. Keller Williams was a grand experiment in my life and the origins of this company have their roots in my early experiences in the real estate business. On the advice of my dad, I got a degree in marketing and real estate with a specialization, particularly in real estate and insurance from Baylor University. In 1979, I graduated and came to Austin, Texas, and got into the real estate business. I eventually went into management and because I loved teaching and helping people achieve their business and life goals, I decided to make a career of leadership and management training.

By the time I was 26, I was the Vice President of Expansion at Austin’s largest real estate company at that time, and then I quit. The vision of the company I was with was that their agents worked for the company, and I’d constantly tell the owner at that time that I believe the company worked for the agent. If they just focused on building the agents and treating them right, then they would build the company bigger than they ever dreamed.

“Companies are nothing more than people. People create everything inside an organization and outside, and what’s going to make us better in the long term is the way that our people think. Our goal is to tap the way people think. Take advantage of that thought process and put it to use for everybody.”

So, in 1983, the experiment began. I left where I was and I partnered with Joe Williams, a great guy, and we started Keller Williams Realty with just a handful of agents and some folding tables and chairs. By the end of the first year, we had netted over $100,000 and put it in the bank. In two years, we grew to over 70 associates and had become Austin’s largest single-office real estate company, and number 10 in the market overall. Then the market fell out. It was 1986. We shrunk from over 70 associates to below 40 associates, and although we were still profitable, a new competitor moved to town and five of my top 10 associates plus my entire administrative staff walked out the door. To meet the new challenges in the market and stand up to my competition I knew I had to reinvent Keller Williams. True to my beliefs, I started with agents. Gathering my top 13 associates. I asked this question:

“How can we run the company in such a way that you achieve everything that you want and at the same time, we achieve everything we want?”

And here’s what we came up with. The best possible commission structure we could think of, to be treating the agents like business partners, to profit share with access to the financial information, formalized input into how the business should be run through an agent leadership council, and supportive management who consults and promotes teamwork and the highest level of training we could think of, and we implemented these ideas. In less than two years, our company became number one in our market, positive never to be relinquished again. Putting agents first was obviously a successful model so we took it even further by devising a plan to organize top agents into a series of agent leadership councils formally at the local, city, regional and international levels.

“Most people think we’re crazy when we share with them that we’ve actually turned the entire company’s decision-making process over to our associates in tandem with our managers. But we have. The Agent leadership council, the ALC was set up so that our salespeople could directly impact most of the decisions and all of the decisions that impact them.”

Now, this revolutionary step gave Keller Williams tremendous credibility and was the catalyst for more actions aimed at putting agents in the driver’s seat. Our open books policy standardized the county procedures and published results. The result was growth. We began franchising in 1991 and expanded to Canada in 1998 by working one on one with masterminding with hundreds of top agents from across the country. We created a set of models that became the foundation of my first book, “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” which I published in 2004. The book hit a nerve, found an audience. There were like-minded agents all over North America who found the answers they’d been looking for in that book.
In the second half of the decade, as the crazy run-up in real estate prices started to backfire Keller Williams Realty and our associates were uniquely positioned to seize the shift as an opportunity for growth. You see, Keller Williams Realty got its start during a rotten real estate market and the hard-fought lessons that we learned during those years have really stayed with us. So, we published “Shift” which was a follow-up to “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.” In it, we set forth a 12-point action plan for how top agents tackle really tough times. “Shift” became a national New York Times Bestseller as our company and our agents took it up a notch outpacing the market and proving that the market doesn’t dictate whether or not we succeed, it only tells us how we’re going to succeed. We launched the Luxury Homes Division, which extended our reach into that segment of the market. We created Keller Williams Commercial, which is now the fastest-growing commercial real estate company in North America. Pursuing our dream to bring the Keller Williams opportunity to the world we opened Keller Williams Worldwide and have laid the groundwork for overseas expansion.

Ensuring that our associates have what it takes to serve their clients and run their businesses with technological tools that are unmatched in the industry we responded to the insights of the most tech-savvy associates among us, and developed eEdge, one paperless loop for lead management, contact management, marketing, and transaction management. We’re not a company to sit still, and it’s all because Keller Williams Realty is in the hands of smart, determined, forward-thinking agents, such as you. We’re here to serve you and we’re very proud to be in business with you, and we’re so glad you’ve decided to join us on this unbelievable ride.

Here are some of the highlights in Keller Williams History

Click on the image to expand it.

Keller Williams History Milestones

Over that time, the Keller Williams Mission, Vision, Values, Beliefs and Perspective (MVVBP) has been developed and refined to adapt to the growing company and the changing market conditions. The MVVBP is at the heart of the Keller Williams Culture and serves as a guide for company and agent interactions.



To build CAREERS worth having,
BUSINESSES worth owning,
LIVES worth living,
EXPERIENCES worth giving,
LEGACIES worth leaving.

To be the real estate company of choice for agents and their customers.


Win-Win: or no deal
Integrity: do the right thing
Customers: always come first
Commitment: in all things
Communication: seek first to understand
Creativity: ideas before results
Teamwork: together everyone achieves more
Trust: starts with honesty
Equity: opportunities for all
Success: results through people

A technology company that provides the real estate platform that our agents’ buyers and sellers prefer. Keller Williams thinks like a top producer, acts like a trainer-consultant, and focuses all its activities on service, productivity, and profitability.

Some other things to consider about the Keller Williams History

What happened to Joe Williams of Keller Williams Realty?

Joe Williams is still with Keller Williams and runs his own real estate team focused on residential and KW Commercial, the commercial division of Keller Williams. As this recent article points out, he is very involved in the central Texas real estate market. Although he is not longer a part of the day to day management of KWRI, the company has retained the name Keller Williams rather than change it to something else. This is in line with the overall Keller Williams brand philosophy. The most important brand in Keller Williams is that of the agent.