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Vitals: Keller Williams Realty South Texas, Austin (Lake Travis) and San Antonio (CityView)
Years in Business: 27
Size: 2 offices (CityView/Lake Travis), 1,125 agents
Region Served: South Texas
2018 Sales Volume: $1,713,868,555
2018 Transactions: 5,854 units

It was 27 years ago that Wendi Harrelson began her real estate career with Keller Williams, and over that time, she has catapulted to become one of the company’s most trusted and productive leaders.

Today, Harrelson is regional director for Keller Williams in South Texas, the second-largest region with 9,600 associates and 28 offices, and is also operating partner for a pair of offices (CityView in San Antonio and Lake Travis in Austin), with 850 associates in one and 275 in the other.

Additionally, she serves as regional operating partner for Upstate New York, which currently has more than 1,200 associates and 11 offices—and was recently named a divisional leader for five regions: Gulf States, North Florida, South Florida, Maryland and D.C.

You’ve spent your entire career with Keller Williams. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Wendi Harrelson: What I love about the industry is that it’s constantly changing and I’m helping people with one of the biggest decisions of their lives. I also enjoy giving others the platform to run their own business as big as they want and brand themselves in the industry. What I love about Keller Williams is the endless opportunities available to our associates, as well as the leadership.

How is the South Texas market this year?
WH: Our market is strong and thriving. The economy is strong in South Texas, and more people are moving here from other parts of the country than ever before.

What is your growth strategy in the year ahead?
WH: We’ll continue to grow and attract other agents due to our advanced technology that stays ahead of the game, in addition to providing all the tools agents will need to compete.

What are some of the biggest challenges the real estate industry faces in 2019?
WH: The biggest challenges are the new companies popping up daily, staying in front of technology changes, and understanding that the business is constantly changing; therefore, it’s not the same business as in the past. You must provide leadership, stay competitive with costs and provide a positive culture for agents to stay.

Can you provide an example of how you’re helping agents?
WH: We’re analyzing daily how to keep the cost low for agents to run their businesses. Keller Williams’ Labs program, led by our top executives, allows agents to be the audience and provide feedback and ideas on tools that are being developed.

What makes your firm unique?
WH: I believe that what sets my firm apart is the highly trained leadership team that’s very plugged into all of the new tools and technology. We realize that the agents are the product, and the team is there to serve them and make sure that everyone is trained on all new tools and technology. I also think the longevity of the staff/leadership team in the office—most have been in the office for more than 14 years—has created a culture of family and trust that most offices don’t have.

What is the secret to bringing in top agents to the firm?
WH: Asking good questions is always the key in hiring a new associate. It’s important to make sure they understand that this is a very competitive business that costs money, while educating them about the fact that they need to plug in 100-percent for training and education and be dedicated to building a database as soon as possible. If they have a database coming into the industry, they need to work it daily and continue that in a structured manner for the life of their business. 

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.