Gaining ground : Despite economic conditions, Crye-Leike has forged ahead in the Mid-South real-estate market with Northwest Arkansas as a major component.

By Jeff Mores Staff Writer


Posted on Wednesday, February 4, 2009


ROGERS – When it comes to real-estate companies in northwest Arkansas, the names at the top of the list include the likes of Lindsey and Associates, Coldwell Banker and Harris-McHaney. But there’s another that, despite having put down roots here just two years ago during one of the most turbulent economic times in history, has been climbing that ladder.

When Crye-Leike Realtors held its 2008 Kickoff Meeting at the John Q. Hammons Center, the room was about half full. When that same meeting was held Tuesday to kick off 2009, the room was full. And following a year when most people might assume that, given the state of the economy, real-estate companies were more than anxious to say goodbye to 2008, the rapidly growing Crye-Leike contingent taking shape in northwest Arkansas brimmed with enthusiasm.


When one looks how deep Crye-Leike’s roots have managed to reach in just more than two years in northwest Arkansas – all of which have been post-economic boom here – it becomes easy to see from where that enthusiasm stems. During 2008 alone, Crye-Leike made a significant push, leapfrogging from ninth to fourth in sales volume in northwest Arkansas, and has Lindsey, Coldwell Banker and Harris-McHaney in its sights.


“We were up 71 percent last year in northwest Arkansas,” founder Harold Crye said. “Anytime you’re new in a region and adding people, you’re going to show growth, but to grow by over 70 percent in a period of 12 months says something about the potential here.


“I like to think of us as – and I’ve heard others suggest the same – the Wal-Mart of real estate. Agents want greater splits and great services, and what we can offer them is unmatched. A lot of the big companies can offer one or the other, but we can do both. This company has 3,500 agents, 120 offices and does over $4 billion in sales annually, so we can do some things others just can’t.”


Founded in 1977, Crye-Leike has grown to bill itself as the leader in real estate in the mid-South, with a strong presence in markets including Memphis, Chattanooga and Little Rock. In 2008, the company focused its growth opportunities in Atlanta and northwest Arkansas. Crye-Leike has established itself as the leading real-estate company by volume in Little Rock and expanded its northwest Arkansas presence to include offices in Bentonville, Rogers, Gentry, Springdale and Fayetteville. During a time when many real-estate companies are folding or merging under economic pressures, Crye-Leike forges ahead, planning or nearing completion of additional offices in Bella Vista, Bentonville and Siloam Springs.


Dave Mishler, a broker who will head up Crye-Leike’s Bella Vista office, nearing completion next to the Walgreens at U.S. Highway 71 and Benton County Road 40, has been in the real-estate business for the past several years. He’s also a retired Wal-Mart associate and is willing to take the Wal-Mart comparison one step further.


“Harold Crye is the Sam Walton of real estate,” Mishler said. “He started this company in Memphis in the 1970s, when times were tough. Now, Crye-Leike is a multibillion-dollar company and the fourth largest independently owned real-estate company in the U.S., and growing. What it offers its agents is unmatched, and its customers see and feel the benefits.”


Not many – Wal-Mart and Crye-Leike included – have been able to avoid the blow dealt by the sliding economy in recent years. Crye-Leike has seen its overall company revenue drop from $6.1 billion in 2006 to $5.7 billion in 2007 and $4.2 billion in 2008. But there are more than a few real-estate companies that would embrace those kinds of numbers during a time when many are just trying to remain afloat.


“We have been eating up big chunks of market share,” Crye said. “That’s the key.”


Despite the market conditions, Mishler said he has attracted more than 20 agents to the soon-to-open Bella Vista office. Crye-Leike recently started to spread roots in commercial real estate in northwest Arkansas and will be implementing stateof-the-art technology for its agents in 2009 that is intended to strengthen relationships, response time and further establish the company’s presence.


“Today, consumers have lost a lot of trust in institutions,” Mishler said. “I think Crye-Leike has been built around honesty and integrity. I think that’s why you’re seeing the results. It’s why I’m on board, and as you can see, the number of people in this room has grown considerably from 12 months ago.”