Frank DeCicco, an intuitive businessman and entrepreneur, who had been in business since 1936, founded RE/MAX of Texas in 1977. DeCicco, his wife Jean, and their five daughters moved to Houston from upstate New York in 1965. They established Sun Aero Real Estate, but after five years the company was not growing as fast as their ambitions. In 1974, DeCicco opened Century 21's first Texas office, but he still was not quite satisfied. "I knew that something bigger and better was lurking just over the horizon," stated DeCicco.
DeCicco found what he was looking for in 1977 when he purchased the franchise rights for Texas from RE/MAX. He carried on with Dave Liniger's unconventional concept of allowing the agents to keep the maximum amount of their commissions, with the stipulation that they contribute to the shared overhead expenses plus a small management and promotions fee.
"We're the greatest untold story on the face of the earth, because this is a program that should not have worked," DeCicco says. Old-line brokers and others in the industry tried to discredit RE/MAX, indoctrinating agents against Liniger's plan and even denying RE/MAX Sales Associates access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Colorado's state real estate commission audited the company's trust accounts weekly, and the state attorney general's office investigated RE/MAX after competitors complained the firm was violating fair trade practices.
Things changed in 1977 when Liniger decided to franchise. RE/MAX was not the first real estate franchise business, but it was the first to combine the maximum commission concept with franchising-and the combination sparked a revolution. That year the company's growth of Sales Associates exploded by 274 percent, and has been escalating dramatically each succeeding year.
In Houston, DeCicco jumped on the RE/MAX bandwagon quickly, but he admits the first 10 years were tough-even though the late 1970s and early 1980s were boom years in the market. Luckily, he was also selling real estate to survive. "It seems to me, if you're going to be in business where your only compensation is commission, you should be retaining the maximum amount," he says. "The key was finding enough Sales Associates who had the courage to cast themselves as individual contractors and agents instead of splitting their commissions."
Richard J. Filip, a licensed real estate broker since 1969 and the owner of a custom homebuilding company, began his association with RE/MAX of Texas in 1979 in a marketing capacity. Beyond his various real estate businesses, he additionally owned a company called Air Adventures that provided pilot instruction of hot air balloons. Frank DeCicco contacted Richard Filip about putting a balloon-marketing program in place for the region, which resulted in the sale of the first hot air balloon to RE/MAX of Texas. It was at this time that the now familiar red, white and blue hot air balloon was adopted as the official RE/MAX logo.
Richard Filip joined RE/MAX of Texas in 1987 as Marketing Director and in March 1990, became an Executive Vice President for RE/MAX Regional. In January 1997, Filip was named Chief Operating Officer and Regional Director for RE/MAX of Texas, and later that same year, in August, Mr. Filip became Regional Co-Owner. This occurred with the formation of a partnership between RE/MAX of Texas, Inc. and KEMCO, Inc., a company owned by Filip. Filip held the positions of Chairman of the Board and President, serving as Managing General Partner of the RE/MAX of Texas, Inc./KEMCO, Inc. partnership, doing business as RE/MAX of Texas, until June, 2002.
June 2002 marked the completion of the ownership transition process begun five years earlier, as Filip announced his acquisition of the assets of his joint partnership with DeCicco.
In the more than twenty years since Richard Filip joined the RE/MAX system, he has been integral to the continued growth and success of the RE/MAX organization in Texas, which now encompasses 220 offices and 4,700 Sales Associates across the state of Texas.
Today the RE/MAX concept seems to be more practical than radical. "The same thing that's happening in the retail business is occurring in our industry," says Filip. "Mom and Pop operations are going out of business, because they're no longer able to keep up with the technology." RE/MAX has grown so phenomenally, it now offers its Sales Associates access to a worldwide satellite network system (RSN), which offers educational courses, keeps Associates abreast of the latest industry trends, and makes readily available the referrals of more than 100,000 other sales professionals across the globe.
RE/MAX enjoys Premier Market Presence in virtually every area served by "The Real Estate Leaders."® RE/MAX has captured the lion's share of the real estate market in most major markets area they service throughout Texas: Corpus Christi, the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, Houston, San Antonio, and many additional medium and smaller cities and towns. RE/MAX offices in the Houston area have managed to outsell their next three competitors combined for the past nine years, according to the MLS.
"RE/MAX of Texas ended 2004 with our Sales Associates and Franchises demonstrating exceptional financial strength and growth,” said Filip. “These factors contributed to a total sales volume that exceeded 12 billion. We have experienced continual expansion in every aspect of the real estate market. The record-setting sales volume, as well as the fact that RE/MAX was involved in more transaction sides across Texas in 2004 than any other franchisor, simply makes us the strongest real estate presence in the state. And we expect great things in 2005. I expect the coming year to be even better because we are maximizing the use of technology with an expanded on-line service, and we are continuing to emphasize our policy of providing our Associates with elite educational opportunities, both with innovative programs offered through our Academy of Education, as well as through the RE/MAX Satellite Network (RSN), which keeps them apprised of the latest industry trends and enables them to pursue professional designations in the comfort and convenience of their own home."