On Monday, Allie Beth Allman & Associates promoted Keith Conlon, a former multimillion-dollar producer and the firm’s general manager, to president of sales.
“Leadership begins with core values,” began firm founder and CEO, Allie Beth Allman, in a prepared statement. “Four years ago I started searching for someone to work with me in a leadership role.”
Conlon, who sold with the famous Mathews/Nichols and Lillie Young teams, was a successful young agent. Allman says as she visited with Conlon, she recognized a shared sense of values. So she tapped him for management.
Different Backgrounds, Shared Goals
Allie Beth Allman hails from Graham, Texas, a small West Texas town, where it never bothered her to “walk barefoot to town.” She says she was raised with a “can-do-anything spirit” — her father and mother often said, “You can do anything, and you will.”
Her young protege comes from a completely different background. Conlon, who played baseball at Texas Christian University and was later drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2007, is a fourth-generation Texan who was born and raised in the Park Cities.
And he is raising two young daughters, along with his wife, Megan, in a $2 million Park Cities home. He has deep respect for the neighborhood, where the Allman brand is strong, as a source of stability, education, and a bastion of entrepreneurial spirit.
But Conlon’s grandfather’s story rings close to that of Allie Beth Allman: a self-made man from Cuba, Alabama. Gillis Thomas was Trammell Crow’s first commercial broker /operating partner. He broke off in 1975 to start his own firm, The Thomas Company, which is still run by Keith’s dad and brother. And Gil Thomas had a strong woman behind him: Thomas met Keith’s grandmother during World War II. She encouraged him to attend SMU on the GI bill — she said he had to have an education. Because of that education, he worked in Dallas, and then met and worked with Trammell Crow.
“He went from Cuba, Alabama, to a commercial broker,” says Keith. “But my grandparents really gave back to the community. He was an original board member of Genesis Women’s Shelter. And my grandparents bought the Otis Elevator Company building and donated it to a church, it’s now the Stewpot.”
Keith recalls his grandparent’s strong family support as he grew up, their presence at every sporting and life event. For 30 years, he says, he had both of them in his life.
“His whole deal was ‘my word is my bond.’ When I got into residential real estate, he talked about how your reputation is all you can live by,” says Keith. “That’s how my dad does business. And that’s how Allie Beth and Pierce do business.”
It’s a small-town culture of strong ethics because everyone knows everyone. That rang true for Allie Beth.
“Keith’s grandparents and parents are among the finest people I’ve known — I was familiar with the lifelong recognition of their church commitments and civic leadership,” she says. “So I’ve known Keith his entire life, and understand why he matches our firm’s core values of trust and integrity and believes in our culture of sharing and caring as an agent family.”
A leader is a good person who attracts good people and knows how to hold them together, she says.
A Part of The Real Estate Community
After one summer playing minor league baseball, Keith came back to North Texas. Two years later he started selling real estate with the Lillie Young group at Allie Beth Allman & Associates. Lillie’ son is a professional baseball player, Chris Young, and he made the introduction. After three years Keith joined the Mathews/Nichols group.
“I had some of the best mentors you could ask for in the company,” says Keith.
Allie Beth Allman & Associates has achieved record sales of more than $2 billion in the last two years, added offices in Southlake and Lakewood and grown to more than 400 agents. The whole time Conlon was in charge of the ship and proved his great engagement skills with the agents.
It started back in 2015 when ABA was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Conlon moved into his first leadership role as sales manager
“Allie Beth asked me to go in management,” says Keith.
Duke Jimerson I, one of the best general office managers in Dallas real estate history, was a one-man show who had kept the fort solid since Allie Beth started the company. There was a five-year plan for Keith to work by his side. The plan was busted when Jimerson retired. In 2018, Keith took the fast track to general manager of the office.
What is a great office manager?
“A great general manager sets the culture of the office, curating the best agents who define the service level of the firm,” says Victor Lund, managing partner at The WAV Group, one of the foremost real estate research and consulting firms in the U.S.
“Someone who is accessible, who knows agents and can help agents in any way they can,” says Keith. “It’s how to help get the deal done. What helped me was I always have my phone and am quick to respond. Time is of the essence. It’s really important to be there for an agent.”
It’s a position historically rife with putting out fires and resolving conflict.
“Once you help agents realize the end result is to make everyone happy and get this deal closed, it works. You figure out how to get everyone to meet in the middle… get to the finish line,” says Keith. “Sometimes we pull in the star agents in the office who are willing to help and share knowledge.”
Great office managers also have to be motivational coaches at times.
“I try to boost the self-esteem of agents, no matter their experience or productivity. If people believe in themselves, it is amazing what they can accomplish, ” says Keith.
It’s a tough industry, he says: You can have an unbelievable first quarter then go months without selling anything … but agents cannot let a month or two snowball into self-doubt. Even Allie Beth Allman herself wonders, ‘Will I ever sell anything again?’
Here is where Keith’s baseball career fit like a catcher’s glove: in baseball, if you fail 7 out of 10 times in hitting, you are batting 300.
“In the big leagues, that’s Hall of Fame. That’s Derek Jeter,” Keith said. “All those years of playing a tough game gave me that mindset. The mental side of baseball applies to business, how to push aside those negative thoughts.”
The real estate business looks so easy, Keith says. You get in and think all your best friends will use you, and they don’t. But you cannot let that give you self-doubt.
“Baseball is a game of failure: it really prepared me for the business world,” he says.
A Recipe For Success
Conlon believes consistency is the key to a successful real estate marketing strategy: Doing something every day to grow agents’ business.
Allie Beth Allman started the company in 1985, during a prolonged economic recession, and waded through complicated negotiations during a time when lenders weren’t lending. After selling her firm in 1995, she restarted again in 2004 and pulled the company through the recession in the 2000s. Though she sold the company to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in 2015, she claimed “nothing changes.”
When I first contacted Keith about an interview, he wrote I could catch him at the airport as he was on his way Wednesday morning to San Diego. I dialed him up and was expecting to hear airport din in the background. But Keith quickly told me that his daughter had a high fever the night before, and was diagnosed with the flu. Knowing he had been exposed to it, he asked Allie Beth if he could cancel the trip and quarantine at home with his little girl.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Family is the most important.”
But his phone(s) will be with him, he’ll be available to anyone, and get on that plane next week.
It seems as if Keith Conlon never stops moving.
Like Keith, the Allman brand keeps moving, too. He discussed plans for expansion, both west (Fort Worth?) and north (Frisco). Only if the numbers crunch. He talked about how 2019 sales developed for the brand, and how the market is changing, too. Make no mistake — when it comes to real estate, Keith has his head in the game.
Here’s hoping he’s batting 1,000 in 2020.