Phil Castle, The Business Times
Robert Bray has had three boom and bust cycles in Mesa County since his grandparents started the family real estate business 75 years ago.
Competitors have come and gone. The technology and ways of buying and selling real estate have evolved.
What hasn’t changed in three quarters of a century, Bray says, is his company’s commitment to customers and the community. “I’m so proud to be the same.”
When it comes to longevity and corporate culture, he said one thing has a lot to do with the other.
As chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate, Bray oversees an operation that his grandparents Sherman and Roxy Bray began in 1946 on a redeveloped veranda at their home in downtown Grand Junction, while his father, W.R. Bray, oversaw the takeoffs and downturns in the economy. …
The fourth generation of the family joined the business of Robert Bray’s three children. Kevin Bray is Chief Development Officer, Brian Bray is Managing Broker for Bray Commercial and Michelle Urlacher is Chief Operating Officer.
However, the definition of a family extends to 58 agents and 49 support staff who work in various divisions. This includes Lynn Thompson, who has been with Bray Real Estate for 34 years and is president. “The company is a family,” Thompson said. “It has always been this way.”
“He is part of the family,” said Robert Bray. “He just has a different surname.”
Brace, Urlacher and Thompson sat down to discuss what has and has not changed in their real estate business over the past 75 years, in an extended interview with the Business Times.
According to them, the 75th anniversary of the founding of Bray Real Estate is an important milestone as it reflects: strength and resilience, as well as all the relationships established and maintained over the years.
“Wow. What a strong company,” said Urlacher. “It’s just amazing.”
Thompson agreed: “Any company that can do this is a good company.”
Robert said the Grand Valley is a very different place than when his grandparents founded Bray Real Estate in 1946. They moved to the area to farm, but recognized the opportunity in real estate.
Since then, the company has not only continued to operate, but has grown.
Bray Real Estate operates residential and commercial divisions as well as real estate development and management divisions. The company has three offices in Grand Junction and an additional office in Rifle.
Bray Real Estate is ranked among the leading firms in the Grand Valley in terms of residential and commercial real estate sales. The company provides more comprehensive services than any competitor, Urlacher said.
Bray attributed longevity to a combination of factors, including a willingness to adapt to change and recognize opportunities in difficulties.
Brian said the company has always focused on people first. Kevin agreed, “This business is the business of people.”
“This includes customers, but also staff,” said Robert. “Our people are our most important asset.”
A culture of support creates an extended working family that attracts people to the company.
Urlacher said the culture and opportunities convinced her to return to the firm.
Kevin worked in construction in California but returned to Grand Junction for the same reason. “Coming home and working with my family was real fun.”
Brian agreed. “It was a great opportunity to be part of something great.”
Robert said corporate culture – Bray’s style – also emphasizes honesty and commitment to the community. He said that his grandparents founded their business on a promise and a handshake, and that principle has not changed.
Launched in 2016, the awards program recognizes employees who demonstrate integrity and contribute to family and community. The winners are honored in an annual ceremony, and Bray Real Estate contributes to the charity of the winners’ selection.
In 2018, Robert was among the recipients of national awards for business leaders who promote ethics and social responsibility. The National Association of State Boards of Accountants The Center for Public Trust presented Bray with the Bill Daniels Outstanding Achievement Award. The awards program is named after the cable television pioneer and philanthropist.
In 2019, Bray Real Estate established the Bray Cares Foundation to help fund programs and projects that address housing problems. Since then, the foundation has provided more than $ 40,000 in grants.
In real estate, the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have created an unprecedented situation. At some point shortly after the start of the pandemic, real estate exhibitions and open days were banned. Since then, demand for housing in the Grand Valley has outstripped supply and raised prices.
Brian said the pandemic has accelerated the trend of more people moving to the Grand Valley. Because technology empowers people to work anywhere, they choose to live in places with a high quality of life. “Grand Junction on the map”.
Robert said he is encouraged by the opportunities the real estate market is opening up and by the new generation of leaders.
What’s next for Bray Real Estate?
Thompson gave a ready answer: “Another seventy-five years.”
But the more the economy, the market, and the technology change, the more Robert expects other things in the company to stay the same. “We try our best in what we do.”