Home and portrait courtesy William Raveis real estate; book signing by Hannah Sawhney
In 1974 the Sears Tower was completed in Chicago. Bill Clinton lost a Congressional race. Blazing Saddles was released and became a blockbuster. In such a year of highs, lows and bucking the trend, William “Bill” Raveis graduated from the Realtors Institute, borrowed $2,000 and, above a grocery store, launched his own business. Today, it’s the No. 1 family-owned real estate company in the Northeast and eighth in the country. It has 120 offices and 3,800 agents, does approximately $8 billion in real estate sales and $1 billion annually in mortgages, and serves more than 6,000 insurance customers.
He recently announced that his sons are now copresidents. “My sons have been the ‘eyes and ears’ in the field as they have built their respective companies; they have overcome challenges firsthand and have developed a keen sense of the industry and unique market differences that will craft their vision over the next twenty-five years.”
As for Bill Raveis, retirement is not on the horizon. “They’ll have to drag me out by my ankles,” he joked to The Real Deal, an industry resource. He tells us, “I am not retiring; I am still chairman and CEO. They have total operational responsibilities, but I still consider myself a sounding board for my sons. I will be spending more time developing our Florida offices.”
Plenty of Connecticut residents are eyeing the Sunshine State, which leads to more big news: “Tapping into the Naples market is the next logical step,” says Raveis. “Over 20 percent of the homeowners in Naples have primary residences in the Northeast.” The Raveis office is the first outside of the Northeast region, with thirty expected over the next decade.
Raveis concludes, “Don’t listen to naysayers. Every market that we went into, folks said we couldn’t do it. If I had listened to them, we would still be above a grocery store.” raveis.com
Every dynasty has a legacy and succession, and so Bill Raveis remains Chairman and CEO of William Raveis Holdings, while sons, Chris and Ryan, become co-presidents. They are well-groomed for ascension. “Chris expanded our real estate company into new markets beyond Connecticut, giving us presence across seven states throughout the Northeast,” says Raveis. “Ryan has retooled and grown our mortgage company to one of the largest in the country and implemented several key initiatives that have advanced the company’s financial interests.”
WORDS OF WISDOM
The Way of the Entrepreneur was written with the Raveis grandchildren in mind. “I wanted them to see how this company was started and to emphasize that they should never lose sight of their passion,” he says. It offers insights on building a family-owned business while keeping true to one’s values, vision and goals.