Real Estate Talk Radio Show | Bend, Oregon

Real Estate Talk with The Powell Team

Airing every Sunday at 10:30 am | KNBW 104.5 FM or 1340 AM

Each week, The Powell Team at Fred Real Estate Group – Carla, Cathryn, and Marnae – host a local radio show to spotlight current listings and property highlights, share market trends and stats, and engage in insightful community discussions with local business owners and leaders. {Listen to past episodes here.}

Recently, the owners of Fred Real Estate Group – Fred and Keeley Mannila – sat down with Carla to talk about how and when they founded FRED, why they decided to open a real estate brokerage during a recession, and the #1 thing they focus on when it comes to business.

Listen to Fred and Keeley’s interview:


| Pictured: Fred Mannila, Keeley Mannila, Michael Moon (producer), Carla Powell |

Interview transcript:

Carla Powell: You’re listening to Real Estate Talk with The Powell Team at Fred Real Estate Group, your local real estate professionals. I’m Carla Powell, and today I have Fred and Keeley Mannila with us. They are owners and entrepreneurs of Fred Real Estate Group, here in Bend, and we are so grateful to have them spend some time with us, and tell us a little bit about their business and what they do.

And so to start off with, I wanted to just introduce you a little bit to them and tell you a little bit about where they’re from. And I’m going to ask them a couple of questions too. Fred was born in Oregon and raised here locally. Keeley was actually born in England, the British Isles, but you can’t tell by talking to her, she doesn’t seem to have that British accent anymore. I guess we flushed it out of her.

Anyway, they started their business, their real estate business here in the worst recession ever. Keeley comes from a background in marketing, and Fred, what’s your background?

Fred Mannila: Well it’s been real estate since 2001, before that I worked for a children’s newspaper where I was the account manager for Oregon and Texas. And on September 11th, I was actually in Dallas, Texas when the attacks happened on the World Trade Center, and my manager at that point said, there are no flights flying, so you need to make your way home. And so I went to the car, drove back to Portland, and all of our investors pulled out of the company and I was out of a job.

At that point, Keeley and I sat down and we thought you know, what does this look like moving forward? And we knew that we wanted to create our own destiny, and we had always had some interest in real estate, so I went and got my license, and the rest is history.

Carla Powell: What made you want to start your own real estate company?

Fred Mannila: Well we had some bad experiences back when we purchased our first home in Milwaukie, Oregon. We were first time buyers, we were excited to buy our first house for $120,000 I think it was, back in 2000, right before we were getting married. The experience was just horrible. The realtor showed up, and he literally just showed up one time, and for the rest of the transaction, he sent assistant after assistant and we never had that personal kind of customer service experience. And we realized, we can do this better.

Carla Powell: Good for you. Keeley, what made you want to get involved with Fred, and get this business going?

Keeley Mannila: Well much like Fred said, we really felt like a paycheck when we bought our first home. And it didn’t really connect with us on a personal level when it should’ve done. It should’ve been the most exciting moment of our lives at that point, and it really was not great, and it always stuck with us.

You know, clients should be made to feel like they’ve had this amazing experience, whatever product you’re buying. And we just knew, having gone through the experience ourselves personally, and with Fred’s real estate license and my background in marketing and PR, it just all blended together. We knew we could do this, and we could make people have that experience that we didn’t get every day. That’s really exciting.

Carla Powell: It really is. You guys have, really a fresh … you even say this in your marketing, a fresh outlook in the way you do your real estate. How difficult though was it to get started when the market was so tanked at that time? In 2008, right? Wasn’t that when it was?

Keeley Mannila: It was 2008. We had always loved Bend, we would come to Bend on a weekend. We lived in Portland, and we just would find ourselves making excuses to drive over the mountain because we loved it so much. And it was always such a pull for us to come here. And so finally when we made that choice to move here and raise our family here, we realized that if we could make it work, we could do anything.

We essentially moved to a town that we loved, but we didn’t know anyone. We didn’t really know our way around, and we had four-year-old twin boys at that time, so life was a little busy. And we also named the company Fred Real Estate, it wasn’t some generic corporate name, it was Fred. At first we thought, well this is going to be an interesting experience for everyone. But we just knew, if we can do a really great job in 2008 in real estate, which was probably the worst industry to get into, we could just make this work.

Carla Powell: Yep. You could do anything. And honestly, you have. And I always like one thing that Fred says is that you’re the woman behind the man, that you’re awesome. It’s really true, your creativity and all that you add to the marketing strategy is really neat. One of the things that I know you guys have been doing quite a bit lately, is the working with The NW Collective and doing marketing videos. Can one of you tell us a little about that?

Keeley Mannila: Yeah. So again, with my background in marketing, I know how important visual connections are. So imagery and videos just tell a really beautiful story, and really wanted to emphasize that with our company. Because while we may own the company, obviously we have 100 brokers that work with us, and they each have their own client base, and their own stories to tell. So why wouldn’t we tell those stories locally?

So partnering with a local crew, The NW Collective, we do monthly videos to talk about our community and showcase this beautiful place that we live in. And why we live here, what we love to do, because we work here, but we live here and we play here too. And we all have our families and our friends and our own lifestyle. We also talk about the market updates, and kind of conversationally share data with our clients too. Just kind of as a resource, but also telling our brokers’ stories, and also our clients’ stories.

Fred Mannila: And it’s also fun because our brokers star in the videos, so they kind of come out of their comfort zone with just doing some different things that they’re not normally comfortable doing. We had a broker star in one of the videos where she jumped off a cliff in a bikini, and that’s not normally how she would operate. So it was just kind of fun to see brokers try something new.

Carla Powell: Yeah. She might do that, but not in front of a video camera, or a camera very often. It does bring you out of your comfort zone, I know. Thanks so much for sharing those things with us. We are going to continue on in our next segment, so please join us with Real Estate Talk with the Powell Team here at Fred Real Estate Group, where we will talk a little bit more to Fred and Keeley, and learn more about their story. Stay tuned.

This is Carla Powell, and I’m here with Fred and Keeley Mannila, owners and entrepreneurs of our local Fred Real Estate Group. The dynamic duo I’m calling them today. I think I’ve been with Fred for about five years now at least, probably. And I just love the brokers and the comradery that is there amongst them. What do you do to bring brokers to you?

Keeley Mannila: You just know. I always say you trust your gut. What we personally look for, is that spark. Someone that understands how to provide awesome experiences to your clients. Whatever your background may be, you can learn the real estate side of things. Right? So we can teach you and support you in that way, but if you understand that you are building a business for yourself as a real estate broker, and you understand that that comes with hard work and consistency and investment in your time, and financially too, that’s really what we look for. It’s not rocket science, as they say.

I think unfortunately in this industry, there can be those that expect it to be easy. Building a business, it takes time, and that’s okay, but maybe at Fred, we wouldn’t hire that type of broker. And we’ve had to say no to a lot of great people that just weren’t a fit culturally, because for us, culture is the absolute number one thing that we want to build at our company. It is all about our people, 100%. And if you get that … we have a saying, no egos and no drama, and we fully mean that. I think that it just is a distraction.

And I think that if it’s the good vibes only mentality, even on your worst day, if you just have that mindset, you know it’s really not that bad, you know. So again, it’s all about our people and who we work with. It’s not the number of people on our team, we’re not trying to grow to be the largest by any means, but it’s who’s on our team. And who we want to work with and be proud to work with. We’re so grateful that we do have that collaborative team culture because it’s so important.

Carla Powell: It really is true. Do you want to add anything to that Fred?

Fred Mannila: One thing I’ll add is that we want brokers to be successful in this business. So part of it is that we offer a really great compensation plan so when brokers do close a transaction after … all through the blood, sweat, and tears of real estate, that we don’t want them to pay a large portion of their commission to their brokerage. We just feel like it’s not fair.

So part of our attracting brokers is to make them successful on the financial end, and on the technology end, and on the training end, and everything that goes with it, because we truly look at our team as family. We’re only as successful as our team.

Carla Powell: Yeah, that’s really true, thank you. And with all of that, you make it fun. It really is, it’s the good vibes, it’s the positive attitude, it’s working together and feeling like you’re not in competition, but you’re helping each other be successful. And that’s one of the things that I actually do really enjoy. Tell us what’s a little bit different about your office space and what you do there, that I think is unique. I think you know what that is.

Fred Mannila: Well I think even too, designing the office space was intentional. So actually Keeley designed the office space back in, whenever we moved in the Century Center, five or six or seven years ago, and it’s an open, collaborative vibe. We want brokers, even though they’re technically each other’s competition, to be collaborative. To work together, and to work hard, play hard.

We are not a corporate vibe at all. We have a very open floor plan, where brokers work together, they chat with each other, they help each other, and it’s a really unique sort of environment that is not your typical real estate traditional brokerage.

Carla Powell: Yeah. I like how we don’t all hide out in a little room all by ourselves. That we’re in a big open space. I mean we can go in an office if we need some quiet time, or we need to talk to a customer quietly, but it’s the open concept, and I really think that that helps us work together better.

Fred Mannila: Yep, absolutely.

Carla Powell: And bump ideas and things off each other while we’re at work, and in a way that reflects all the way down to our clients that we work with. Because we feel like we can have positive attitudes with them, and that positive attitude comes from the top down. It really does. And it works well.

Fred Mannila: I also think we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously in this business.

Carla Powell: Well I want to say a couple of things about Fred Real Estate, that he doesn’t toot his own horn or anything, but one of the things I think is in 2019, they were ranked high in the Real Trends Brokerage Rankings for the whole United States. Again, because of what they do. It grows because of what you’ve made.

Keeley Mannila: Yeah. We are super honored to have been recognized nationally. We’ve actually been landing on the RealTrends list since 2014, but last year was so pivotal for us because it really highlighted what we’ve done to this point for the last decade. And essentially, we were positioned as a groundbreaking brokerage, so this little, local boutique shop here in Bend, Oregon was recognized nationally. And that’s pretty awesome, and mind-blowing actually, for us.

We also were recognized from a separate organization as one of their groundbreaking brokerages, and there’s only a handful of those around the nation that were recognized as being innovative and on the forefront of company culture and technology. So again, just two different recognitions, but in tandem with each other, so it was just really an honor.

Carla Powell: Thank you both for being here. I know Fred is ranked third in our area for the number of sales and transactions that it does, and it seems to stay right at the top. Very happy to be a part of your team, it’s awesome. So thank you for coming today to spend this time with me.


Tune in to listen to Real Estate Talk with The Powell Team every Sunday!

10:30 am | KNBW 104.5 FM or 1340 AM


About Keeley Mannila

As the co-founder and owner of Fred Real Estate Group, Keeley is the driving force behind company culture, branding, and creative marketing strategy.