KW History


Keller Williams has become the most innovative and successful real estate companies in the industry. The origins of our company have roots in the early experiences of Gary Keller in the real estate business. Keller Williams was ‘built for agents by agents’.

In 1979, Gary moved to Austin, Texas to begin his real estate career. He loved teaching and training so much, he decided his career would have much more of an impact in management. He wanted to help agents achieve their business and life goals.

Working for the #1 brokerage in Austin, Gary was moving up the ladder very quickly in his company, but after being promoted to the vice president of expansion, he quit. That company’s vision was that the agents worked for the company. Gary disagreed saying the company worked for the agents. His vision showed that if you work on building the business of the agent, the brokerage will grow.

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

Partnering with Joe Williams, Keller Williams was created with just a few associates. Within two years, Keller Williams had grown substantially. But the market crashed in the early 1980s, and Keller Williams lost half of their top agents to other companies. Gary decided it was time to create a new model that revolved around the agents. Asking his agents this question, Gary carved out the new Keller Williams real estate business model.

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

What did they come up with?

The New Keller Williams Business Model

  • The fairest possible commission structure
  • Treat agents as business partners
  • Share profits with the agents that help grow the company
  • Give full access to financial information to all associates (open books)
  • Formalize input on how the office should be run via the ALC (Agent Leadership Council)
  • Have supportive leadership and staff that consult and support agents and promote teamwork
  • Have the highest level of training in the industry (#1 in real estate agent training)

By implementing this business model, Keller Williams became the #1 office in Austin and has yet to relinquish that title. Putting agents first. Giving agents control of running the company via the ALC. KW showed this was a successful model to share across all markets. In 1991, franchising began in the US and into Canada in 1998.

Keller Williams became the largest real estate franchise in the world. All this, while focusing only on you, the agent. To only help build your business, not compete with you.