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October 18, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: With new president, Kidder Mathews signals it's not going to sell out

Puget Sound Business Journal

Marc Stiles

Seattle-based commercial real estate company Kidder Mathews has named veteran broker Bill Frame to the new position of president as part of a succession plan that includes bucking expectations by remaining a privately held, independent brokerage.

The commercial real estate industry is experiencing a tremendous number of mergers and acquisitions as big, publicly traded companies gobble up smaller, privately held ones.

Kidder Mathews, meanwhile, has been aggressively expanding on its own with eight new offices in the past 18 months in California, Nevada and Arizona. It's opening its 17th office next week in Ontario, California, and plans to continue its Los Angeles expansion in the next year.

Industry watchers are convinced the expansion is aimed at beefing up the company to get it ready for sale, which Chairman and CEO Jeff Lyon says is not the case.

Lyon said numerous suitors have reached out to him in his 17 years leading Kidder.

"My story is always the same," he said. "We have a very unique brand and we want to retain what we have."

Frame, 52, is a Tacoma office broker who has been with Kidder Mathews for 23 of his 26 years in real estate. As he winds down his business, he'll handle the day-to-day operations.

Lyon plans to stay on perhaps through the end of 2019 and continue leading expansion efforts. When he steps down, Frame will become CEO and Lyon will continue as board chairman of the company.

With more than 600 employees and brokers, Kidder Mathews is one of the West Coast's largest independently owned brokerages. It is known both for its liberal commission splits for top-producing brokers as well as its ownership structure.

Of the company's employees and brokers, 129 are shareholding partners and have been getting 10 to 25 percent returns in addition to their salaries and commissions, said Lyon, who's 64. The company plans to soon name around 20 new partners.

Having so many shareholders is another reason Kidder Mathews will remain independent, said Lyon. To sell, he'd need to get 85 percent approval from shareholders.

Lyon said the appointment of Frame and the expansion of the shareholders is aimed at sustaining the company long-term after he, and later Frame, retire.

For the full story, go to Puget Sound Business Journal.

© 2016 American City Business Journals. All rights reserved.

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