Keefe Real Estate, headquartered in Lake Geneva since 1943, achieved over $440 million in sales for its clients in 2016. The company has nearly 110 agents and staff and now covers most areas of Southeastern Wisconsin from seven locations. Keefe Real Estate is one of the largest independent real estate companies in Wisconsin, and is in the top 125 nationally.
Founded in 1943, Keefe Real Estate is an independent, family-owned, full-service real estate brokerage, based in Southeastern Wisconsin. Keefe’s mission is to maintain and grow our position as market leader, provide the highest level of support and service to our customers and sales agents, and play a leading role in improving the communities we serve.
The company, originally named Farm Auction Service (FAS), was opened on July 8, 1943, by Robert D. Keefe (RDK) with one employee, Hazel Keefe, his wife, in a rented home. Keefe quickly grew to be recognized as one of the largest auction-management companies in the United States. Specializing in registered and purebred cattle sales, FAS handled between $3 million and $4 million a year in the late 1940s.
Operations expanded to include farm management and farm real estate brokerage. At this time, Simon (Si) Allen of Interstate Insurance joined the company and Jack Keuchel joined as the firm's first real estate salesman. Business boomed during the early 1950’s, and additional offices were opened in Clinton, Janesville, Monroe, Madison, Watertown, and Beaver Dam.
During this time, RDK became an officer in a corporation with Jim Fitzgerald, J.P. Cullen, John McGuire, Bob Kennedy, and the Ryan brothers that built the first Holiday Inn in Janesville. Additional Holiday Inns were built in Wausau, Eau Claire, and Aberdeen, S.D, and the group went on to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks for several years in the 1970s. Following the success of the Holiday Inn construction, the group purchased banks in Mount Horeb, Montello, Argyle, and Mineral Point, as well as a cable television service in Janesville.
Back in Walworth County, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, RDK saw an opportunity to get involved in real estate development. Along with his partner, RDK participated in the development and sale of variety of subdivisions and condominium projects throughout Walworth County, including Academy Estates and Sturwood.
Keefe’s son, Michael, joined the family business and moved to Lake Geneva in 1973, leaving a position as a loan officer with the First National Bank of Chicago. Bob retired as Keefe & Associates president in 1980 and was succeeded by Simon Allen and subsequently by Michael Keefe.
Mike came to the family business with experience in banking, computer systems and a masters degree from the University of Chicago. Mike led Keefe & Associates to its current success as one of the most prestigious real estate companies in Wisconsin, all the while, spearheading numerous development projects in and around Walworth County
2017 welcomed the 3rd generation of ownership to the Keefe Family. Mike’s son, Tom, assumed ownership of Keefe & Associates on January 1, 2017, taking on the roles of President & CEO. Born and raised in the Lake Geneva area, Tom spent several years in the New York realty arena.
According to Tom Keefe, “As one of Wisconsin’s oldest and most respected real estate firms, we have doubled down on the highly-personalized, locally-owned approach, while also investing very a half million dollars in cutting-edge technology, training and marketing innovation. We are in a great position to build on decades of professionalism to continue to provide best-in-class service tour customers and sales agents.”
Tom Keefe is the new President & CEO of Keefe Real Estate. The third-generation leader previously worked with The Corcoran Group of New York, the renowned independent brokerage led by international real estate expert Barbara Corcoran, whose personalized approach to realty is now considered legendary.
Over the past four years, Tom has personally overseen Keefe’s rebranding, growth strategy, and leadership expansion, as well as the relaunching of Lake & Country Magazine. Tom’s late grandfather, Robert D. Keefe, founded the company as Farm Auction Service, Inc. in 1943, soon after expanding its brokerage role into other realty areas and changing its name. Tom’s father, Michael Keefe, greatly expanded the company’s role in Southeastern Wisconsin residential and commercial real estate sales and development projects, from the 1970s onward.
Steve Beers, the new Chairman, has long been a statesman in Wisconsin real estate circles. Beers began his career at Keefe as an award-winning agent and then in various areas of management, serving as President and then CEO since 1997. Widely respected as a leading expert in Wisconsin real estate policies and procedures, Beers also is a leader in the Wisconsin Realtors Association, where he has served in a variety of executive capacities.
Tom Pederson is CFO, responsible for all aspects of the company’s finances, with additional oversight in human resources. In this role, he also leads the Keefe Kares Foundation, which in 2015, its second year of existence, raised over $58,000 for more than 30 local charities in core community need areas. Pederson succeeds longtime CFO Dennis Carnes, whose financial acumen helped Keefe achieve notable financial strength and stability. Carnes remains active with Keefe in a staff advisory role and on the Board of Directors.
Chris DeVincentis is VP of Broker Operations in charge of overall sales, training and technology. A highly-regarded veteran manager, local market expert, motivational speaker, and trainer, he has served on the company’s leadership team as Managing Broker since 2009. Chris is responsible for the company’s training curriculum, as well as the brokerage’s on-site IT professionals and administrative staff.
Julie Morse is Managing Broker and Development Director, licensed in both Wisconsin and Illinois. An award-winning Realtor who worked on Chicago’s North Shore for over seventeen years, Morse manages Keefe’s branch offices, with additional corporate responsibilities in marketing, training and development. She is an author and motivational speaker, and has written for the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times Media Group on realty and lifestyle topics.
Garner McClayton is Director of Vacation Rentals. An experienced property manager who started his career as a REALTOR at prestigious Slifer, Smith, & Frampton in Vail, CO, before joining Keefe, Garner worked for 6 years for Sudler Management in Chicago, IL. Garner is responsible for all short-term and vacation rentals, a quickly growing industry and new segment to the tourism economy.
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