Kendall steered Group’s ship, rallied its crew 2007 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Lifetime Achievement

FORT COLLINS – Before Harvey Nesbitt died in 2000, he recounted in a Business Report interview how Larry Kendall had changed the course of his career, and his life.

Nesbitt was not quite a cofounder of The Group Inc. Real Estate, the company that under Kendall’s leadership became the dominant residential brokerage force in the region. He had joined the Fort Collins company as a broker in its second year – 1977 – when the unorthodox business was just finding its way in the market.

“It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes it was pretty rocky,” Nesbitt said. “Everybody wanted to manage. Everybody wanted to pick out the color of the stationery, and nobody wanted to sell real estate.”

Nesbitt credited Kendall for keeping the crew of The Group’s loosely run ship together long enough for it to catch the wind.

“A lot of other brokers would not have had the persistence and determination to make a noble project like this work,” he said. “The secret of how this thing works comes down to our fearless leader.”

Persistence, determination, vision and compassion – qualities that Kendall’s longtime associates cite as his most valuable characteristics – are also those that led judges to select him as the 2007 recipient of the Bravo! Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award.

That “noble project” is the pattern of ownership that for decades made The Group different from any other residential real estate brokerage in America. Brokers who joined the company in that era were immediately shareholders – equal owners – under a system of Kendall’s design that was unlike any other in the country.

“We were accused of being socialists, or even communists,” Kendall said. “Some people still don’t understand the concept.”

The Group’s distinctions, the characteristics that make it different from any other real estate brokerage in the region, make up a long list. For instance, the company was the first to put prices on signs in front of sale properties.

“We were the only industry I can think of that offered products for sale to the public without telling them the prices,” Kendall said. “If we are, as we want to be, the No. 1 source for real estate information in our market, we’ve got to get the information out. Now, we’re putting prices on all of our signs.”

Kendall two years ago stepped down from his role as chairman of The Group, and while he still closely tracks the day-to-day progress of the company, he spends as much time traveling abroad, and on road trips to conduct sales and leadership training seminars under the “Ninja Selling” brand.

In fact, over the years brokers by the thousands from throughout the world have made the pilgrimage to Fort Collins to learn the Ninja Selling secrets from the master.

“It’s about how to do business but also about how to run your life,” current Group chairman and longtime Kendall friend Chuck McNeal said. “It’s interesting that local people just don’t understand the absolute cult brand that the Group enjoys nationally. I give most of the credit for that vision to Larry.”

Susie Ewing, who at the age of 22 began work at The Group as the company’s first receptionist in 1976, said her long association with Kendall had paid all manner of unexpected dividends.

“I basically grew up at The Group,” Ewing said. “There are a lot of people I’ve worked with for 25 or more years. But the thing I take away from working with Larry for 31 years is that he is an encourager. He always encourages you to do more, to be more. He truly brings out the best in people.”

In the middle 1970s, The Group Inc.’s ad campaigns played on the brokerage’s often-misunderstood name. This posed photo with founder Kendall prominent in the upper right ran under the headline “Group therapy.” Courtesy The Group

FORT COLLINS – Before Harvey Nesbitt died in 2000, he recounted in a Business Report interview how Larry Kendall had changed the course of his career, and his life.

Nesbitt was not quite a cofounder of The Group Inc. Real Estate, the company that under Kendall’s leadership became the dominant residential brokerage force in the region. He had joined the Fort Collins company as a broker in its second year – 1977 – when the unorthodox business was just finding its way in the market.

“It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes it was pretty rocky,” Nesbitt said. “Everybody wanted to manage. Everybody wanted to pick out the color of the stationery, and nobody wanted to sell real estate.”

Nesbitt credited Kendall for keeping the crew of The Group’s loosely run ship together long enough for it to catch the wind.

“A lot of other brokers would not have had the persistence and determination to make a noble project like this work,” he said. “The secret of how this thing works comes down to our fearless leader.”

Persistence, determination, vision and compassion – qualities that Kendall’s longtime associates cite as his most valuable characteristics – are also those that led judges to select him as the 2007 recipient of the Bravo! Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award.

That “noble project”…