CBRE 110 Years in the U.S.

1906-2016

Building the Company on Integrity: Coldwell and Banker

Coldwell founded his company on a revolutionary philosophy: integrity, ethics and placing the clients’ best interests first. His partner, Banker, shared these values; values CBRE’s people are still dedicated to 110 years later.

Building the Company on Integrity: Coldwell and BankerColbert Coldwell founded his company on a philosophy that was revolutionary at the time: integrity, ethics and placing the clients’ best interests first. His ensuing partner, Benjamin Arthur Banker, shared these values; values that have stood the test of time. CBRE’s people are still dedicated to the same principles laid down 110 years ago by these two idealistic entrepreneurs.

Colbert Coldwell was born in Durango, Colorado, but his family moved to California when he was 6 years old. He attended the University of California, Berkeley. Following his freshman year, Coldwell decided to leave the university and take a solicitor position with a San Francisco real estate and auctioneering firm. While there, he proved his sales ability and was quite successful. But soon he became dissatisfied.

In 1906, a violent earthquake rocked San Francisco, levelling the city and killing an estimated 3,000 people. Despite his youth, or perhaps because of it, Coldwell saw beyond the ruins and knew he could help rebuild the city. There were businesses that needed new offices, shopkeepers who needed new stores, landlords who needed new apartments to rent. Four months after the quake, on August 27, 1906, he established his own firm, vowing to conduct business a new way: with integrity, with ethics and with the client’s best interest above all.

Benjamin Arthur Banker, the oldest of seven children, was born in Friendship, Wisconsin, and raised near Chicago. In 1908, in his mid-20s, he ventured west to San Francisco to sell meat-slicing machines for a Chicago-based firm. The job was exhausting. He worked six days a week trudging from one butcher shop to the next with his machines.

One Sunday, Banker took a spontaneous trip to Visitacion Valley, a neighboring community, where lots of land were being offered for sale. Being a salesman himself, Banker was intrigued when he heard the man selling the real estate boasting of earning several hundred dollars in a single weekend. Banker promptly resigned his position and went to work selling lots in Visitacion Valley. He was very successful.

In a city that was still young and small, it was inevitable that Banker and Coldwell, both flourishing real estate professionals, would meet. The two men found they shared similar values. In 1913, Coldwell asked Banker to join his firm as a salesman. Banker agreed. A year later, Coldwell and Banker became partners, and the association that would lead to the formation of the world’s leading real estate services firm began.

The two were a perfect pair. Coldwell was the dignified elder statesman and Banker was the genial hands-on partner. The two men would devote the rest of their lives to building Coldwell Banker.Banker retired from the firm in 1960 at age 75. He passed away just five years later. Coldwell never retired. He worked at the firm he founded until his death in 1976, at age 84.

Today, CBRE honors its elite sales professionals by making them part of the Colbert Coldwell Circle. Those in the Circle are forged in the tradition of integrity, ethics and exceptional client service, all of which have become the company’s hallmark—a tradition that began with Colbert Coldwell himself.

CBRE 110 Years in the U.S.

How the Great Earthquake of 1906 Started It All

Building the Company on Integrity: Coldwell and Banker

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