Grand Junction offices add to fast-growing operation for real estate firm

Todd ConklinsmallPhil Castle, The Business Times

Todd Conklin poses the same question whenever he has to make a decision: Does this help agents sell more real estate?

The answers have guided training, marketing and other support for agents, Conklin said. The answers also have guided in a broader sense an operation that ranks among the fastest-growing real estate companies in the United States, even more so with the recent acquisition of residential and commercial offices in Grand Junction.

“If it doesn’t answer the question, we don’t do it,” said Conklin, owner and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties.

It’s an approach Conklin said has defined his role as well. “I think I’m the chief cheerleader, frankly. It’s important they know how much I care.”

In July, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties acquired Coldwell Banker Home Owners Realty and Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties in Grand Junction. The acquisitions were the latest for a company that was launched in 2006 in the Idaho resort area of Sun Valley, but expanded by buying real estate operations in Colorado in Steamboat Springs, Vail and Grand Junction.

With the addition of more than 50 real estate agents in Grand Junction, the operation now includes a total of more than 130 agents and another 16 staff members, Conklin said.

Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties ranked among the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States in 2013 in a list compiled by Inc. magazine. The firm ranked 965th overall with a nearly 450 percent increase in annual revenue from $756,000 in 2009 to $4.1 million in 2012.

Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties  was the fourth-fastest growing company in Idaho and ranked 30th nationwide among real estate companies, Conklin said.

The acquisition in Grand Junction was different from those in resort towns selling mostly residential properties — vacation and luxury homes in particular, Conklin said. But he said he was attracted by the history and performance of the Grand Junction companies as well as the agents who work for them. “Frankly, it was the people.”

Coldwell Banker Home Owners Realty has been in business since 1948. “That’s an amazing story,” Conklin said. “I love that.” Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties has ranked as the top Coldwell commercial office in Colorado every year since 2008, only a year after opening.

Conklin said he has even greater expectations for the Grand Junction offices with the additional marketing, technology and other support the larger company brings to the operation. Meanwhile, Grand Junction will serve as the headquarters of an expanded commercial real estate operation he hopes to extend to offices elsewhere in Colorado and Idaho.

Given the opportunities for commercial real estate in Mesa County, Conklin expects investors in resort areas to take a closer look at the Grand Valley and, consequently, his firm to bring more dollars into the community.

Conklin himself brings to his venture varied experiences in business marketing and consulting along with his passion not only for sales, but helping others make sales.

His interest in real estate is understandable, he said, growing up in Southern California as the son of a father who was a builder and a mother who was a developer.

Conklin attended San Diego Mesa College and landed a job with a marketing company in San Francisco. That led to a series of other jobs and ownership in a health club.

He subsequently owned a consulting company that assisted new and struggling businesses bring their products to market.

Conklin planned to return to his native San Diego to work for a developer, but went to Sun Valley to live for a short time and fell in love with the area. He decided to launch a real estate business there.

While Conklin said he could have “lived happily” as a real estate broker in Sun Valley, he decided he wanted to conduct business on a larger scale and began looking for opportunities in other resort areas.

Conklin said he brings his perspective as a salesperson to his company, and that helps him understand what real estate agents need to do their jobs. But as much as he enjoys making $100, Conklin said he enjoys even more the process of helping someone else make $100

Conklin said he’s learned over the course of his career the combination of the right people doing the right things leads to exceptional results.

In the real estate business, part of that process is supporting agents, Conklin said. In addition to training and staff and technological support, he said his company also provides marketing support with high quality products in print and online. That gives agents more time to find sellers and buyers, he said.

Conklin has moved with his family to Grand Junction, and said he’s been impressed with the community. Moreover, the move put him within easy driving distance to offices in Steamboat Springs and Vail.

Even as he plans on further expanding Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Grand Junction and elsewhere, Conklin continues to think about how to help agents do their jobs.

“The whole deal is does this help our agents sell more real estate,” he said.