Business partners Carter Clark and Brandon Long were real estate executives on the rise when the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal highlighted both of them as members of the 2007 Forty Under 40 class.
Together, they had launched Clark Long & Associates in 2003.
“We started, basically, with nothing,” Clark recalled. “I think we each put in about $15,000.”
Four years later, the Fayetteville-based firm had grown to employ 24 agents, with residential sales of approximately $42 million.
Today, Long and Clark are still business partners, and in one of the country’s fastest-growing areas, their company has grown right along with it, into one of the area’s largest real estate firms.
Long, 45, and Clark, 35, are two of the four owners of Weichert, Realtors — The Griffin Co., which has divisions for both residential and commercial properties.
The company was officially formed in December 2009 with the merger of two companies: Weichert, Realtors — Clark Long & Associates and Springdale-based The Griffin Co., led by Gary Griffin and Philip Taldo.
Long and Clark repositioned their company for growth when they bought a Weichert franchise in the summer of 2007, less than two months after their Forty Under 40 honor.
During a recent interview, Long said: “Northwest Arkansas is a relocation market, and we realized that a local company just wasn’t going to cut it. Especially a startup that wasn’t very old.”
Over the next two years, the company grew to employ more than 60 agents. After the merger with Griffin was said and done, the new company kept about 120 agents between two offices in Springdale in Rogers.
Today, Weichert has about 100 agents split between its Springdale and Bentonville offices (the company relocated its Benton County office from Rogers to Bentonville in 2012), and the Fayetteville office has about a dozen agents, the result of Weichert’s purchase in January 2015 of Fayetteville firm Beck Haus Realtors, owned by Leigh Anne Beck.
The company has grown its combined residential and commercial sales from $115 million in 2010 to $346 million last year.
“These numbers astound me every time I look at them,” Long said. “You could certainly tell the market was improving.”
Clark and Long both still enjoy selling and listing real estate, but their primary responsibilities are now more managerial. Clark is the executive broker of the Fayetteville office, Long oversees the Bentonville office.
They both agree that training and developing new agents is their main focus, largely through the firm’s Level Compensation Program (LCP), the brainchild of Clark.
The six-month course is termed a “boot camp” by Long, and a key benefit is that graduates are put on salary for their first six months of employment. The result, Long said, is that 92 percent of those who go through the program renew their license after their first year. According to the National Association of Realtors, 66 percent of new agents don’t renew their license after the first year.”
“We want people who come out of that program to be more prepared,” Long said. “It creates agents who are dependent on activity, and sales is all activity. After six months they go on a normal commission structure and they start rocking and rolling.”
As for 2016, Clark said the firm has a goal to add 25 new agents to its current roster of approximately 111, with a sales volume target of $425 million.
“That would follow the trend of increases we’ve seen the last couple of years,” he said.