In 1984, Ken Staninger and Scott Hollenbeck realized that franchised brokerages didn’t allow agents to do enough for their real estate clients in Missoula, and decided to start their own broker firm.
Thirty-five years later, Properties 2000 has rebranded as The Partner Group: Brokers in Real Estate, and will continue its work as one of the older and smaller Missoula brokerages serving clients statewide.
“While Properties 2000 was our beginning, what has always set us apart is the way we work together, as a team of brokers and partners. Now, our name and brand reflect who we have always been at our core,” said Jessica Rogers, The Partner Group’s operations manager.
Staninger died five years ago, and while he helped begin the business, he held the same percentage of ownership that was shared among the other partner-brokers working there. So the remaining partners could continue the company’s legacy and mission.
“He didn’t have any different percentage of ownership or anything like that, he was still a partner-broker, too,” Rogers said. “But he was one of those super influential leaders. His presence, you could just feel the energy, and it was pretty amazing.”
Last year, The Partner Group was ranked sixth in total market shares based on sales volume in Montana through the Missoula Multiple Listing Service. That’s despite having far fewer agents – at 10 – than Missoula’s top-ranking real estate agency, at 50.
“When you have this size, there’s a great synergy that happens. In an office of 50, you’re not going to see or know that person who is the 49th agent in the office,” said Deana Ross, a Partner Group broker and part-owner.
The Partner Group is unlike other real estate firms that have a pyramid model, with a top broker and other agents beneath following strict company policies.
“We can do what is best for our clients at the time,” Ross said. “So if we have a client that is having a difficult situation and is in a financial crisis, as individual brokers and owners, we can decide how to best help that client.”
The business is also part of the family, with Hollenbeck’s daughter, Kris Hawkins, working as a broker as well.
“I came home from my first year of college, and he told me he signed me up to get my real estate license and that I was going to work for him that summer selling real estate. Now, here I am,” Hawkins said.
The real estate industry requires hard work to build a clientele, and teamwork is essential, broker and owner Deke Tidwell said.
“I think it takes a special kind of person to be a part of this company, just because you have to be a self-starter, you have to be responsible for yourself and also a team player,” he said.
It’s more than just putting a for sale sign on a front lawn, and requires a connection between broker and homeowner.
“I think with technology these days and having models of brokerages of being a transaction-based, a la carte brokerage that it still comes down to personal connections, who you know, treating people fairly and doing the best for the client,” Hawkins said.