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Archive for Friday, April 2, 1999

SELLING HOMES IS A FAMILY AFFAIR FOR MCGREWS

April 2, 1999

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John McGrew, now chairman of Coldwell Banker McGrew Real Estate, sees the business as a living memorial to his father.

The men and women of Coldwell Banker McGrew Real Estate can thank the McGrew family for sustaining the business.

Conrad McGrew made a name for himself in the real estate business before he decided to open his own agency in 1951. When he died in 1953, the task of raising two young children and keeping the family business afloat was left to his wife, Viola.

Viola McGrew thought her son, John, might want the business someday, so she operated the business until 1960.

Conrad McGrew did not study to be in real estate. Rather, he graduated from Kansas University's School of Music. At the time, his classical trio -- the McGrew String Trio -- played on the local WREN radio station. Because of the high profile that the on-air exposure gave Conrad McGrew in the community, Relators Art Peck and Charlie Holmes approached him about working together. The trio would later form Holmes, McGrew and Peck.

That was the beginning of McGrew's career in real estate. Later, he formed his own business, McGrew Investment Company.

Park Hill development

Around the time of his death, McGrew and a group of local investors purchased an area known as Park Hill. The undeveloped land was bounded by 23rd Street, Louisiana, the present-day Haskell Indian Nations University and the present-day Broken Arrow School.

City officials weren't so sure new housing was needed in the area, so McGrew's team was forced to build the houses before the streets and sewers were in place, said John McGrew.

When Viola McGrew took over her late husband's business, she made the transition from homemaker to business owner. After son, John, took over, she continued to work as a broker.

John McGrew said that at one time he thought about being a forest ranger or pilot, but the opportunities and family history afforded by the real estate company were too much to resist.

"It's always been more than a business to me. I am continuing the dream my father had," John McGrew said.

Perhaps that's why John McGrew, now chairman of the real estate firm, sees the business as a living memorial to his father. And why his sister, Patty, and his two children, Mike and Marcy McGrew-Eudaly, consider it a privilege to work there.

The same company that began with five employees in 1951 has grown to more than 60 Realtors and an administrative staff of 11.

No special privileges

If outsiders think the McGrew name earns special rights and favored treatment, they would be off the mark. John McGrew says the strength of the organization depends on making everyone feel like part of an extended family. McGrew family members earn the right to advance in the company the same way everyone else does -- through hard work.

"It takes awhile to understand our commitment to the other people who work here," John McGrew said. "But doing so is in the best interest of the organization. The company is an extension of our family."

His sister, Patty McGrew, joined the team in 1984 because

See McGrews', page 7E

she wanted to be near her family, and she needed a job. It was only natural to see how she would do in real estate. As a sales associate and partner, Patty McGrew appreciates the way the company operates.

"We set goals and standards for our employees," she said. "I think that makes us unique because we let other people who excel become partners."

Home to roost

Neither of John's children -- Mike and Marcy -- showed interest in the business when they were young. In fact, they were determined to stay as far away from it as possible. However, Marcy McGrew-Eudaly joined the team in 1993, and Mike, who now is company vice chairman, joined in 1983.

"I had a desire to know Dad and Mike and to work with them," Marcy said.

Throughout the years, the company's location has changed regularly. From 1951-1965, the company was at 806 Mass. It moved to 900 Ind. and stayed until 1970 because it wanted to establish an identity for the company.

Growth brought the company to 901 Ky., followed by 1505 Kasold in 1976. The firm moved to 1501 Kasold in 1986, where they remain today. A second office has opened at 4100 W. Sixth.

In December 1997, the company became a franchisee of Coldwell Baker, but the business is still independently owned and operated. Father and son see the move from different viewpoints.

John McGrew said the move was his son's decision.

Mike McGrew supported the cause because he believes it's difficult for an independent real estate company to stay on the cutting edge.

John argues that it used to be a challenge to keep reinventing the wheel, but Mike McGrew said that nowadays the wheel gets reinvented once a month.

"It's hard for us to fight the fires of business and still find time for research and development," said Mike McGrew. "Coldwell Banker is a premiere national company."

-- Regina Cassell's phone message number is 832-7189. Her e-mail address is rcassell@ljworld.com.

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