Bill Lee was having a successful career at a large, national real estate brokerage when the idea struck him that maybe he could make more money on his own.
And maybe, the agent thought, he could create an office that was more collaborative, more productive and more enjoyable to work at.
With four fellow Grubb & Ellis co-workers, Lee launched his independent office in 1979 in what was then the south Orange County community of El Toro.
Unlike the big, national company he worked at, his new company would operate with “a share mentality,” with each agent working for “we instead of I,” Lee said.
“I left because of the opportunity to make more money and maximize my potential,” Lee recalled in a recent video commemorating the company’s 40th anniversary. “I did it because the future was more valuable to me than the present. The opportunity to maximize those deals that I put on my plate in terms of commission dollars was more of a catch.”
Today, Lee & Associates has 65 offices across North America, from Newport Beach to Boston, from Houston to Toronto and Vancouver. The firm’s estimated value at the end of 2020 was $14 billion.
Lee died of cancer Monday, April 5, after a long illness, the company announced. He was 78.
Bill Lee (Photo courtesy of Lee & Associates)
William J. Lee was born in October 1942 and grew up in Santa Monica.
He earned a physical education degree from California State University, Northridge.
After some short coaching stints, Lee took a sales job with Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. in Los Angeles until he discovered how much money his contemporaries were making in real estate.
He was hired by the Century City office of Coldwell Banker, then went to work for Grubb & Ellis in Newport Beach several months later. Lee consistently ranked as first or second in the office, a former colleague said.
In 1979, he struck out on his own, starting with four other agents in a 4,000-square-foot garden office near the Irvine Spectrum.
During its first year, Lee & Associates agents made about as much as they would have had they stayed at Grubb & Ellis, Lee recalled in the anniversary video. During its second year, the firm opened its second office.
By 1990, Lee & Associates had grown to a 200-employee firm with eight offices in five counties. Combined sales for the firm were $20 million in 1989.
Lee was “legendary” because of his vision for sharing the profits, Lee & Associates principal and Southern California News Group contributing columnist Allen Buchanan wrote.
“Bill realized that intra-office competition was wreaking havoc on the greater good of the office,” Buchanan wrote in 2019. He created a profit-sharing platform that rewarded cooperation but still encouraged competition.
The firm bills itself as the largest broker-owned company in the U.S.
Unlike traditional brokerages, each Lee brokerage office, in effect, is a separate company.
A venture-capital group, consisting of partners from other offices, owns a stake in each brokerage office. A formula is used to determine how profits are divided within each partnership.
“It’s not often you meet an individual who is larger …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News
Stock Market: Suez Canal Update! Floating!
The Suicide Squad | Official IMAX® Red Band Trailer
From the horribly beautiful mind of James Gunn and filmed in IMAX. Experience