Kidder Mathews -
Bill Frame has navigated a distinguished path in the commercial real estate sector, culminating in his current role as CEO and Chairman of the Board at Kidder Mathews. Beginning in the early ’90s and progressing through a series of strategic roles, his insights have helped shape the company’s trajectory. In this interview, we explore Frame’s journey, his perspective on leadership, the distinct characteristics of the West Coast market, and the essence of success in a highly competitive industry. Join us as we delve into the professional ethos and strategic vision that Frame brings to one of the leading commercial real estate firms on the West Coast.
Bill, can you start by giving us a brief overview of your journey in the commercial real estate industry leading up to your role at Kidder Mathews?
I started as an agent in the Seattle market with Cushman & Wakefield in 1990. I then went to Kidder Mathews with a team of three in 1993. During my tenure as an agent in 2000, I became the managing director of our South Puget Sound office and a member of the Kidder Mathews board of directors until I took over the presidency role in October of 2016. Then in 2020, I assumed the role of CEO and Chairman of the Board.
What inspired you to pursue a career in commercial real estate?
I started my career in finance and accounting in 1987 working for Evergreen International Airlines. One of my responsibilities was securing real estate at various airports around the world, which led to an introduction to Trammell Crow of the Trammell Crow development company. He opened my eyes to the dynamic commercial real estate industry, which motivated me to make the career change.
As CEO of Kidder Mathews, how would you describe your leadership style, and how has it evolved over the years?
My leadership style is all about decision-making, efficiency, trust, and accountability. I achieve this through instilling confidence in our leadership by recognizing our successes and failures. We celebrate the successes and work relentlessly on taking corrective action toward our failures. When managers are given the flexibility to problem solve and make decisions, their confidence grows, and with that comes accountability and a more efficient organization.
Leaders often have a mix of innate qualities and learned skills. Which leadership traits do you believe you were born with, and which did you consciously develop over time?
I am not sure I was born with these traits, but I certainly learned about decision-making, a strong work ethic, focus, clear communication, fairness, determination, and an aggressive Òwill to winÓ from my parents (Bill and Nancy) at a very early age. The number one trait I have consciously developed over time is effective communication. People respond much better when you talk ÒwithÓ them, not ÒtoÓ them.
CEOs often speak about the loneliness at the top. How do you handle the pressures and isolation of the CEO role?
Yes, it is often lonely at the top, especially when you have almost 1,000 people and their families relying on you every day to do the Òright thing.Ó However, it is not nearly as lonely when you surround yourself with very capable senior leadership (most notably Brian Hatcher, our President & COO) and empower them to problem solve and make decisions.
In what ways do you actively foster a culture of growth and continuous learning within your team?
We have a high priority toward succession planning at Kidder Mathews. In turn, that fosters a culture of learning as much as possible about your area of responsibility, which results in striving to become a more comprehensive manager and eventually leading to career advancement.
From your perspective, what are the unique challenges and opportunities of the commercial real estate market on the West Coast compared to other regions?
The major drivers of West Coast commercial real estate are the Pacific Northwest and the State of California. To that end, our challenge is to continue to draw interest from the industry to locate and invest in these markets to remain competitive amongst regions beyond the West Coast such as Texas, the Carolinas, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York. When you have major employment and investment in certain areas, it leads to economic growth, which generates commercial real estate opportunities not only for those markets but also for the surrounding regions on the West Coast.
How has the West Coast commercial real estate landscape transformed during your tenure with Kidder Mathews?
The advancement of technology, life sciences, e-commerce, and the influx of foreign and institutional investment have transformed West Coast commercial real estate. The rapid development and corresponding expansion of technology and life sciences has created a need for intellectual capital, resulting in an enormous appetite for employment for both urban and suburban office space. E-commerce, in addition to employment, has created a major uptick in the need for strategically located warehouse space. The significant increase in foreign and institutional funds has greatly enhanced investment across the commercial real estate landscape in multifamily, Class A office, and industrial space.
Lastly, with your vast experience in the industry, how would you summarize the essence of your success in commercial real estate, particularly in the vibrant and competitive West Coast market?
Kidder MathewsÕ and my success is directly related to the performance of our people, be it in revenue generation or administration. On the revenue generation side, we have brokerage, property management, and valuation consulting. Those three revenue streams have obtained success
through employee/agent retention and recruiting as well as geographic, product type, and client diversification. On the admin/management side we have achieved success through our conviction of accountability, delegation, empowerment, analysis (inspect what you expect), clear direction, communication, financial responsibility, decision-making, fairness, and being
solution-oriented all inside a professional, fun, and respectful work environment. The bottom line is that our employees/agents and clients want to work with people that they know, like, and trust, and that is the culture that we strive for every day at Kidder Mathews.