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ERA_Hall_of_Fame_InducteeIt’s not often the fiercest of competitors become the strongest of allies. But that’s exactly what happened to five Utah-area business owners during the 1982 recession.

Knowing business was scarce and overhead was high, the five brokers banded together, closing most of their offices and consolidating their businesses into one multi-service real estate company. Low and behold, with the merge of the five companies, ERA Brokers Consolidated was born. Over the years, the other partners retired leaving brokers/owners Thayne Houston and Mark Walter at the helm of the operation.

“Mark and I were both SOB’s (sons of brokers) in real estate,” recalled Walter. “So with our fathers’ guidance, we led the consolidation and oversaw the business. I originally assumed the broker role while Thayne finished his degree. By 1984, Thayne joined as a broker and became principal broker by 1986 – a title he still holds today.”

“We merged before mergers were cool,” said Houston. “The consolidation became statewide news in Utah because it was unprecedented in 1982 but ERA and many of the original vanguard members supported us and it was a great decision.”

The company’s existing contract with ERA Real Estate goes back to 1978 and the company was known as ERA Sampson & Company. When it was time to consolidate and evaluate the company’s options, they stayed affiliated with ERA Real Estate because of the great relationships they had with those within the brand, including founder Jim Jackson and former ERA president Mac Heavener. They also heard ERA offered great training.

“In fact,” added Walter, “We heard the ERA broker training was so good that in 1982, we rented a van with the other original owners and took a road trip to Overland, Kansas just so we could attend broker orientation. Here we were, renting a van and driving for days with former competitors to get additional training. We ended up having a lot of fun together and learning a lot.”

“ERA has served us well in terms of business structure, support and training options,” said Houston. “The brand had and still has many great tools and the brokers services folks, well, they have been here a long time and have been very available to us.”

Fitting right into ERA’s culture of collaboration, ERA Brokers Consolidated led the way in sharing best practices in the West, sometimes known as the real estate rat pack. They would sometimes drive more than 200 miles to broker and regional meetings just to network and help one another within the brand.

“Sharing helps us learn,” said Walter. “It makes us better and helps us to sharpen our skills. One of the most beneficial elements of the ERA events is the opportunity to share thoughts and to support one another. We are all in the same brand so there is no reason not to share!”

Since the 1980’s, ERA Brokers Consolidated has acquired a dozen companies and has opened six office locations, serving 1, 500 people in the local area.  They began with 25 agents and now boast more than 100.

What’s the secret to ERA Broker Consolidated’s success? They can cover a good amount of ground because their locations are spread out in rural areas of over 150 miles. Always seeking expansion opportunity, they are licensed in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah – with all but one office in Utah. The last is in Mesquite, Nevada, just north of Las Vegas.  And yet through their growth, they haven’t lost their culture.

“We always try to do the right thing and make good choices,” said Houston. “All of us at ERA Brokers Consolidated are like family. We truly care about everybody beyond the business and we never compromise our integrity – we trust our agents and they trust us. We’ve fought really hard to deliver high value to our agents and that translates into high value for our consumers.”

Adding to that value is the company’s commitment to technology and sophisticated listing showcases. Over the years, Mark Walter’s three sons, Neil, Jon and Matt have joined the company and have added several new offerings to help the business stay ahead of the tech curve. Investing in their agents, they have professional photos taken of every listing for every agent, free-of-charge, because they want their agents to know they care and they want every listing to appear special – because, it represents ERA Brokers Consolidated.

“Neil, Jon and Matt have done a great job of reinventing us,” said Houston. “They’ve helped us remain progressive in a competitive environment so we remain engaged and fresh. They’ve introduced new marketing systems and increased the number of leads that come in. It’s really great to have all three of them involved in our company. We’re in an aging business and while our generation is a great asset, the future of real estate is in the younger generation. And with that in mind, ERA Brokers Consolidated is in a good place.”

This article originally appeared on ERA’s blog, Owning the Fence.

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