1960: Briggs’ father founds Ben R. Briggs Real Estate.
1993: Briggs agrees to merge his father’s company with former competitor Charles Freeman.
2010: The company buys into the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise, becoming Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty.
Over the years, Robbie Briggs’ philosophy has been attracting the best agents, running the best operation, and giving them the best tools to do the job.
That strategy has served him well as he turned his father’s business — now Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty — into a company that continues to grow today.
After a two-year career in architecture, Briggs decided to pursue another career in a field he was familiar with through his father, who started the firm in 1960. According to Briggs, when he joined, it consisted of 12 agents. At the time, the company was localized, focusing mainly on Park Cities clients.
“They were very nice people,” Briggs said, “Basically in those days they sat around and waited for the phone to ring.”
Despite being the youngest real-estate agent in the office at the time, Briggs soon found himself training and managing the agents. Very quickly he realized he enjoyed that aspect more than being an actual agent.
When Briggs’ father decided to retire, he turned the reins over to his son, and Briggs decided at that moment to be a different broker. His first goal — to attract the best agents.
“We have the deepest, strongest batch in the industry,” Briggs said. “I absolutely know that if I was listing and selling, I couldn’t do what I do.”
In 1993, a year after Briggs first declined an offer from fellow broker Charles Freeman, Briggs and Freeman merged. The two spent the next 17 years working together and running the company.
“Charles did more of the operations day-to-day, and I was the rainmaker, getting out and stirring up the stuff,” Briggs said.
In 2005, Briggs felt a religious calling to take his family on a sort of sabbatical, and they spent the next three years living in Beijing for various ministry work. Just before Briggs was scheduled to return to Dallas, the 2008 market crash happened.
In December 2010, Briggs made the dual announcement that he was buying out Freeman and the company would buy into the Sotheby’s international franchise.
Briggs knew that adding the Sotheby’s name to the company would expand buyers beyond the Park Cities and Dallas area. It would make a name for the company around the world. He recognized that businesses opening branches and moving headquarters to Dallas, such as the new Toyota campus in Plano, would be familiar with the Sotheby’s name when looking for their new home.
“They know Sotheby’s,” Briggs said. “They’ve been exposed to it. It’s a natural fit.”
Briggs’ company will open its newest office in Plano later in February.
With existing offices in Uptown, Lakewood, and Southlake, along with the main office just outside the Park Cities on Lovers Lane, Briggs has watched his company grow beyond the original intent of being a local realty. A recent expansion saw Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s open three offices around Fort Worth, an area Briggs had been eyeing for a while.
A large part of Briggs’ success comes from his management style.
“I think one of my strengths is knowing my weaknesses,” Briggs said. “I have no problem delegating and working beside, collaborating with people that have skills sets that I don’t have. My goal in that is always to cast the vision and let people carry it out.”
Briggs, a Dallas native and St. Mark’s graduate, has remained involved in several organizations and local philanthropies. When Briggs is not in the office, he often spends weekends in the country, and in the summer he goes back and forth with his wife of 39 years to their cottage in Maine.
Briggs strives to make the company a team, with members who support one another rather than being in constant competition.
“We’re in a business that there really is no limit,” Briggs said. “And that’s the fun part.”