The Century 21 Judge Fite Company – Eighty Years Strong

written by BVM December 6, 2017

Business View Magazine interviews representatives of the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company, as part of our focus on Texas real estate companies.

The CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company of Dallas, Texas, was originally founded in 1937, by Judge Fite, and became a CENTURY 21 franchise in 1997. Today, the company is run by Judge’s children, Jim Fite, President and CEO, and Jan Fite Miller, Executive Vice President. “We have grown from an office of eight people when Jim and I took over, to 25 offices covering 11,000 square miles in north Texas, and we have almost a thousand agents,” says Jan. “We have a mortgage company; we’ve been in property management since 1981; we opened an insurance arm in 2004; and we opened a title company in 2016. So, we have worked to become a turn-key real estate operation. We can sell anything – multi-million dollar ranches, commercial buildings, fine homes and estates, first-time homes, lots and land. We work with builders and we help companies relocate their employees.”

“The real estate company is the hub of the wheel for everything,” says third-generation Director of Operations, Eric Fite. “It feeds insurance, it feeds mortgages, it feeds title. If we don’t have the real estate support coming from our professionals, then those other businesses have to go put signs on billboards and park benches. But, by providing great service to our real estate agents and our clients with these other services, we’re able to create interest and excitement around referring buyers and sellers to our other services. But the real estate company feeds it all.”

The CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company is now the 3rd largest real estate company in market share in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, the largest CENTURY 21 franchise in a nine-state region, and the 4th largest CENTURY 21 company in the world. “We’re a very large company but we have maintained our family roots in terms of our culture and our core values,” says Eric. “I don’t know of any residential real estate company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area that is 80 years old. And we’ve seen a lot in that time. We’ve been through many recessions and been able to come through those stronger and better on the other side.”

Eric explains how the company was able to weather the recent “Great Recession,” which was particularly hard on the real estate sector: “Part of the reason we were able to get through this last recession was the foresight by our leadership team and specifically Jim Fite, our President and CEO. He came to our team one or two years in advance and said, ‘Times are good, but we need to prepare for this next cycle because there’s always going to be a downturn; it’s not always going to be pretty forever. We need to start preparing for it now.’ So, we started analyzing our expenses and creating a more efficient business a couple of years before the recession, and that enabled us to get out of the gate strong. And we worked tirelessly; we took everything apart; we created an A list and a B list and a C list of the things we had to have, things that were more luxuries, and things that we could cut off, and we worked through our plan until the recession ended. When we got rid of the C list and things still weren’t clearing up, we looked at the B list and ended up cutting quite a bit of that, and even some things off the A list. We ran a pretty lean machine to make sure we were going to be in business on an ongoing basis.”

George French, Company Chief Financial Officer adds: “Our two major costs are our rents and our personnel. Every lease that we had, we negotiated with our landlords to reduce or defer some of the cost, and that enabled us to weather part of the storm. We also combined managers for various offices; and we didn’t replace people as they left our company and so our personnel cost dropped. We even asked our management team to take pay cuts; our owners did not draw anything out of the business for a number of years. We survived and came out of the recession much stronger than before and were able to turn the company around.”

“The management team that we have gathered, that stuck with us during the recession – they carried us through,” says Jan. “We could not have done this without them.” “We did go to our leadership team and asked them if they would be willing to take a pay cut and after the recession ended, we paid them back in full for those pay cuts over that time,” says Eric. “They were made whole again. That goes to our integrity and the way we take care of our people.”

“During the recession, we had an attitude of success, not of survival,” adds Jim. “It’s the theory that we live by. If you set a goal to survive and you don’t, it’s not a good day; but if you set a goal to succeed and you don’t quite succeed, you, at least, survive. So, throughout the recession we had an attitude of success. That’s still our attitude today.”

Now that the housing market has rebounded, the company has continued to expand and prosper. “We just merged with a luxury boutique company here in Dallas/Ft. Worth that has five offices and about 160 real estate professionals and we have brought them into our organization,” Eric reports. “We’re excited to have both the growth in our company as well as this opportunity to catapult us more into the luxury market.”

“Three months ago, we purchased a property management company to add doors to our property management company,” Jim reveals. “We currently have a Letter of Intent for another property management company, and we made verbal offers to two small ones, this past week. So, there are four companies that we are attempting to bring into the fold of our organization. As we continue to grow, we have very specific goals. They include the number of offices that we’re going to add, the number of people we’re going to add, gross commission production, and profit lines. And we have an audacious goal to be the number one real estate company in Dallas/Ft. Worth.”

Meanwhile, the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company continues to serve its clients and customers with distinction. “One of the things we’re very proud of is our quality service rating,” Jim states. “We survey every client, and for the last two years, we’ve been at a 98 percent quality service rating, company-wide. I would put that against any real estate company our size, anywhere in the country.”

General Manager, Ashley Conlon, gives all the credit to the company’s many realtors who cover 19 north Texas counties. “The realtors with whom we work are the most important part of our organization,” she declares. “It’s their dedication to quality service and to our mission statement, which is so vital: ‘To serve the community, develop people, have fun, and achieve profits.’  And by doing that and serving our community, we’ve been able to develop careers for individuals and help others achieve the American Dream.”

AT A GLANCE

WHO: The Century 21 Judge Fite Company
WHAT: A turn key real estate company
WHERE: Dallas, Texas
WEBSITE: www.c21jf.us

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