This was posted in yesterday's The State newspaper:
Agency has a world of success
Fast-growing Wilder brokerage named top ERA franchise on Earth
By KRISTY EPPLEY RUPON
Just five years ago, Eddie Wilder had 23 agents working in two small real estate offices in Chapin and Irmo.
Today, with more than 400 agents operating out of a 5,000-square-foot Chapin headquarters and 14 other offices from the Midlands to Charlotte, Wilder is sitting on top of the world.
The ERA Real Estate world, that is.
The phenomenal growth of ERA Wilder Realty - coupled with the franchise's embracing the ERA brand - has led to its selection as the top ERA franchise in the world.
"It's pretty humbling," said Wilder, who started his real estate office in Chapin 12 years ago and joined ERA seven years later.
Franchises are judged on consistent growth, ethical standards and community involvement, among other criteria.
Wilder said his franchise, in its first year of eligibility for the recognition, was competing against franchises that have been around more than 20 years - some as long as 60 years. There are more than 3,500 ERA franchises throughout the U.S. and in 29 other countries; 50 were selected as semifinalists.
Many are well-established franchises that had shared ideas with Wilder when he signed on with ERA.
"They just opened their doors to me and had given me anything I had asked for," he said, adding that such a familylike atmosphere is indicative of being part of ERA.
ERA Wilder won top honors in seven of 13 award categories at ERA's recent international conference in Las Vegas.
ERA Wilder's growth plan has been aggressive. About three-fourths of its growth has come from acquiring smaller real estate agencies. The rest is from hiring new agents.
Wilder said he gets at least one phone call a month from real estate companies wanting to merge with his franchise, and he is in negotiations that could double the size of his staff overnight.
Chip Kreps, executive director of the Greater Columbia Association of Realtors, said he is not surprised that ERA Wilder has been recognized for its growth.
"They've got some very creative, innovative people," he said. "They're very supportive of their folks and their development, very big on promoting from within the ranks."
Kreps called the franchise "a very close-knit and mutually supportive group of agents."
"Columbia's like that," Kreps said. "In some parts of the country, competition overrides cooperation."
Wilder said he attributes his franchise's success to the employees, who have bought into the ERA system.
"Those are the guys I tip my hat to," he said. "You're as good as the people that are with you. ... We all do it together."
Reach Rupon at (803) 771-8308.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
ERA Wilder Realty recently was named the top ERA franchise among 3,500 worldwide.
Offices: 15 in the Midlands and Charlotte area
Agents: More than 400, up from 23 agents five years ago
Employees: More than 500
History: Real estate company started 12 years ago, joined ERA five years ago; 2006 was the first year the company was eligible for the top honor.
Sales: The franchise sold $750 million in real estate last year.