This article originally appears on the Windermere Real Estate Blog, here.

In honor of our 50th anniversary, Windermere set a goal to reach $50 million in giving and officially announced our third generation of leadership during our 2022 Kick-Off event. 

Seattle – On Wednesday, January 26, we hosted a virtual event for our agents, franchise owners, and staff, to kick off 2022 and celebrate our 50th anniversary. More than 4,400 people attended the virtual event to hear from several speakers, including company founder, John Jacobi, Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, and keynote speakers Matthew Ferrara and Candace Doby. Second-generation leaders, OB Jacobi, Jill Jacobi Wood, and Geoff Wood kicked off the event by reflecting on Windermere’s 50-year history and the pride that comes from still being a family-run organization. They also introduced Lucy Wood, daughter of Jill and Geoff, and the third generation to take on a leadership role within our company.

Founded in 1972 by John Jacobi, Windermere started with seven agents in a single office in Seattle, WA. Over the next two decades, Jacobi would grow Windermere into Seattle’s largest real estate brokerage and eventually the largest in the Pacific Northwest. But according to son, OB, his dad never had aspirations of becoming a large company. “My dad’s goal was to build a real estate office where the agents were respected on the same level as other business professionals, so he made it a priority to hire people who were above all else, professional,” said OB Jacobi, adding, “It was because of the quality of the people who joined Windermere that the company began to grow and thrive.”

Fifty years later, Windermere is the largest regional real estate company in the Western U.S. with over 6,500 agents and 300+ offices in 10 states. Last year we exceeded $43 billion in sales.

During the January 26 event, the second-generation leaders talked about how their dad set out to change the real estate industry. According to son, OB Jacobi, his dad didn’t believe in awards and felt the highest achievement an agent could earn is repeat and referral business from their clients. He also thought it was the responsibility of real estate agents to make their communities a better place to live, and in 1989, through the creation of the Windermere Foundation, pioneered a giving model that is now used by real estate companies around the country.

“My dad and his team came up with an idea that would make it really easy for agents to give back,” said Jill Jacobi Wood. “It was simple but sort of ingenious; every time an agent sold a home, a small donation from their commission would automatically be made to the Windermere Foundation. All that the agents had to do was sign up to donate and we handled the rest.”

Jacobi Wood added that the goal was to create a system that would allow Windermere to make a big difference without being a financial burden on any one person. In its first year (1989), the Windermere Foundation raised $90,000 for low-income and homeless families. In 2021, our network collectively raised over $2.5 million for a total of $46 million in donations. In honor of our 50th anniversary, the Windermere network has been given a new challenge: to reach $50 million in donations by the end of 2022.

Windermere CEO, Geoff Wood, closed the 50th anniversary event by saying, “Great companies don’t stagnate or stay the same. They are constantly evolving and looking for ways to improve, grow, and give back. Over the past 50 years we have done just that; here’s to 50 more.”