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How we got started

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Re/Max's property values
Re/Max's property values
Dave Liniger and Gail Main began as business partners
When Dave Liniger opened a real estate company in Denver, his first hire was Gail Main, a former Ralston Purina customer service supervisor, to serve as the firm's vice president of administration. As Dave recruited real estate agents and Gail managed the office, the two forged a professional partnership, fell in love, got married -- and changed their industry with a new revenue-sharing model.

"I had worked for three real estate companies. In the early '70s most companies split commissions fifty-fifty with agents and paid for overhead. Others kept most of the commissions, paid for overhead and charged agents -- usually hungry and less-experienced ones -- for desks and support services," Dave Liniger remembers. "Under our plan, agents would keep 100% of their commissions and pay a management fee to the organization."

Re/Max shattered other barriers.

"The two largest companies in town hired women, but only as bookkeepers, secretaries and paralegals. All of their agents were men. I just wanted to build a company with anyone who wanted to work. Approximately 75% of my sales force was female," Dave says. "After we became the top seller in Colorado in 1978, 200 male agents left those companies to join us."

Gail and Dave started off as business partners -- but a crisis brought their relationship closer.

NEXT: Surviving real estate (and other) crashes

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LAST UPDATE: Sep 09 2009 | 12:52 PM ET
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