Gary Keller steps down as Keller Williams’ CEO

National franchise brokerage is undergoing a corporate restructuring

Carl Liebert and Gary Keller (Courtesy of Keller Williams, iStock)
Carl Liebert and Gary Keller (Courtesy of Keller Williams, iStock)

Gary Keller is stepping down from his post as CEO of Keller Williams while the brokerage undergoes a broader corporate restructuring.

Keller, who co-founded the national franchise firm in 1983 with Joe Williams, has been the CEO since 2019, when he took over from John Davis. At that point Keller had been out of the C-suite for more than two decades, and was serving as chairman of Keller Williams’ board of directors.

He will now serve as executive chairman of the board, according to a company release. In an email to company executives Wednesday, Keller said stepping down was a goal he’d been “working toward for many months” and it would allow him “the opportunity to get back to my passion — placing my focus on the vision for our industry.”

In the email, Keller said Josh Team was assuming all his former duties and responsibilities, but not the title of CEO. Keller Williams Realty will no longer have a CEO, and Team will continue in the role of president.

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The changes reflect a restructuring of the company, primarily due to the founding of a holding company, KWx, which will represent all of its affiliates and subsidiaries, including Keller Williams Realty, and its mortgage and home insurance businesses.

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KWx, however, will have a CEO. Carl Liebert, a seasoned executive and former naval officer, will assume the role. Keller will be the executive chairman of KWx as well as Keller Williams.

Over his career, Liebert’s been in the C-suite at bank USAA, Home Depot, General Electric and was the CEO of 24-Hour Fitness from 2006 to 2013. In August 2019, Liebert was fired from his role as the CEO of automotive retailer AutoNation after only four months on the job. At the time, AutoNation’s executive chairman Mike Jackson told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that Liebert was “not a good fit.”

Keller called Liebert’s track record of managing “customer-driven transformations” and retail strategy in “perfect alignment” with the next phase of the company’s growth.

In a statement, Liebert said working alongside Keller was “a compelling opportunity.”

As a privately-held company, Keller Williams voluntarily reports select financials each quarter. In the second quarter, when many parts of the country were in lockdown due to the pandemic, sales volume and inventory plunged. But Team maintained that the company “outpaced the industry” in terms of closed transactions.

Sales volume for the quarter was $85.3 billion, down 15 percent year over year. As of the end of Q2, Keller Williams had nearly 11,000 agents internationally.

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