The founding principles of family, community, and relationships are still thriving for Windermere Real Estate, a Seattle-based, second-generation owned company. Owners OB Jacobi, Geoff Wood, and Jill Jacobi Wood recently announced the celebration of Windermere’s 40th anniversary. What started in Seattle with one office and eight agents now encompasses over 300 offices and more than 7,000 agents in nine Western U.S. states.
Windermere started in 1972 when John Jacobi purchased a small real estate office in Northeast Seattle. According to his son and company president, OB Jacobi, he never had aspirations of becoming a large company. “My dad’s goal was to build a real estate office where the agents were respected on the same level as other business professionals, so he made it a priority to hire people who were above all else, professional,” says OB Jacobi, adding, “It was because of the quality of the people who joined Windermere that the company began to grow and thrive.”
Forty years later, Windermere is one of the largest regional real estate companies in the nation with offices in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. OB Jacobi says that the company has plans for continued growth both within and outside of its current footprint, but only if it’s the right fit, a nod to how his father grew the company in year’s past, he said.
OB Jacobi says that a sense of family has always been an important part of the Windermere culture, adding that eight years ago his father started passing the day-to-day operations onto the next generation, which includes him, his sister, Jill Jacobi Wood, who is president of Windermere Services, and her husband, Geoff Wood, who is CEO. He added that this tradition is also prevalent amongst Windermere offices, of which more than 20 have transferred ownership to their children in recent years.
As central to Windermere’s legacy is its commitment to supporting local communities. Founded in 1989, the Windermere Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on helping low income and homeless families. The Windermere Foundation is funded through agent commissions, staff payroll deductions, and public donations. To date, the Windermere Foundation has raised more than 23 million dollars to fund services for low-income and homeless families. In addition to its foundation activities, Windermere holds an annual Community Service Day in which all 300 offices close their doors to give back through neighborhood-enhancing projects in the areas where Windermere has offices.
Windermere has been recognized many times through the years for its business practices, innovation, and community involvement. One of its proudest moments was when it was voted the most respected real estate brand in Washington State by the readers of the Puget Sound Business Journal in 2011. OB Jacobi adds that the responsibility for this recognition lies solely with Windermere’s agents and the relationships they have with their clients. “Windermere has always focused on three basic principles: hire the best people; give them the best tools; create thriving communities. It’s not rocket science, but it has worked pretty well for us for four decades.”
Going forward OB Jacobi says that he and his family are just happy to still be in the game, “It’s been a rough few years for the real estate industry, but thanks to our incredible team and some careful planning, we’re coming out on the other side primed and ready for the next 40 years.”
For more information, visit www.windermere.com.
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