By Dick Hughes  

JUNE 21, 2012 10:23 a.m. Comments (3)

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The booming voice, cheerful greetings and unbridled enthusiasm of C. Dan Joyner no longer are heard at Prudential C. Dan Joyner Realtors – but the founder is ever present.

Six months after Joyner’s death Jan. 8 at age 74, his son Danny and son-in-law David Crigler reflected on the leadership transition of the family business that has dominated Greenville’s real estate market for years.

Three years ago, C. Dan stepped back from day-to-day operations to put succession in place. Danny Joyner became president and Crigler executive vice president.

“Our roles were to make decisions each week and report to him in meetings, letting him know what was going on,” Joyner said. “He would tell us what we were doing wrong, what we were doing right, and he would be very candid about it. So from a transition standpoint, the biggest thing is just not having his smiling face and great attitude to get you excited every day.”

C. Dan Joyner groomed his son, 45, and Crigler, 54, into leadership roles from their first days on the job selling houses, which for Crigler was in 1986 and Danny Joyner, four years later.

As Danny Joyner put it, “He moved us both through every division of the company through the years … We didn’t see a method to his madness then, but now we understand better why he did what he did.”

Combined, they have 47 years in the business and, taking into account the day Crigler married Joyner’s sister, Beth, have been together 31 years, working side by side most of that time.

“We’ve always leveraged our strengths and not let titles get in the way,” Crigler said. “It is a collaborative effort.”

The two men operate with a less formal structure now. Rather than conference-room meetings, “Danny and I basically huddle up,” Crigler said. “We are in each other’s offices, and we do it with a little greater frequency.”

Joyner said with 225 independent agents and 50 corporate employees, the transition “has created even more resolve in everybody to carry on C. Dan’s legacy and not just sustain it but to grow it – take the company to an even higher level.”

What sets the company apart, they believe, is the close relationship the company has with its agents and the comity among the agents. The agents “help each other out; they support each other,” Joyner said. “That’s a testament not only to the type of people we have been able to attract, but to the integrity and honesty that C. Dan filtered down to everybody.”

After C. Dan’s death, the two men went around to see the agents to assure them the company’s core values hadn’t changed. Crigler said they wanted the agents to know their job “is real simple: sell homes and follow the Golden Rule. None of that changed. C. Dan set that table.”

Those values have helped Prudential Joyner remain market leader in residential sales with “almost 20 percent market share and our major competitors half of that or less,” Crigler said.

Closings are up 24 percent from a year ago, days-on-the market is down and inventory decreased 17 percent. Commercial sales also are up, but “the difficulty banks are having in lending on the real estate side has made it tougher to get commercial deals done,” Joyner said. “They take longer and you never know for sure if you’re going to close or not.”

They see “growth opportunity” in Spartanburg, where they have sales but no physical presence under the Prudential C. Dan Joyner banner. That will change in 2013, they said.

They plan changes, too, to streamline their mortgage business, which operated 15 years independently but has been in partnership with Wells Fargo for a couple of years.

The company also is anticipating more franchise support now that Brookfield Residential Property Service’s acquisition in December of the real estate division of Prudential Financial Corp. has taken hold.

Joyner has the luxury, they said, of being able to hold onto the Prudential brand identity under contract for several years while taking advantage of Brookfield’s strengths.

“One big thing they bring is they are the No. 2 employee relocation service in the world,” Crigler said. “That one piece alone really strengthened us with international transfer business.”

While they miss their founder, the succession plan he put in place, the culture he fostered and the support of independent agents, “our most valuable asset,” has meant very little has changed day to day, they said.

“To be honest,” said Crigler, “we have kind of settled down.”


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