From a $2,000 loan and three employees in 1964, C. Dan Joyner’s real estate company has grown to nine Upstate offices and more than 300 employees
C. Dan Joyner built a company and left a legacy.
Born and raised in Greenville, C. Dan Joyner graduated from Greenville High School and earned a degree from Furman University in 1959. After serving in the military, he came back to Greenville and was trying to decide on a career. He had job offers in the banking industry, but he didn’t want to leave Greenville and move around.
So Joyner decided to take a stab in the real estate business. He wasn’t quite sure of his career choice at first; real estate is a tough business, said Joyner’s son, Danny, who grew up to follow in his father’s footsteps. But after selling five houses in one weekend, Joyner had found his calling.
After a stint at local real estate firm, Smith and Flynn, Joyner decided to strike out on his own. On the advice of his father, who owned a Western Auto Store in Piedmont, Joyner borrowed $2,000 and opened C. Dan Joyner Real Estate in 1964.
The firm grew over the years. Along the way, Joyner added property management and commercial divisions, and then added and sold an insurance arm.
“A method to his madness”
Joyner always wanted the company to be a family business, and it is. Son Danny Joyner is president and CEO. Son-in-law David Crigler is executive vice president. Danny’s sister and Crigler’s wife, Beth, is a top real estate sales producer, and Danny’s sister, Lyn Freemon, does advertising and special events. Beth and David Crigler’s son, Alex Crigler, runs the property management division, daughter Carmen Feemster does sales and Alex’s wife, Ellis, is a sales associate.
Danny Joyner said he might have been a coach of some kind if he hadn’t joined the family business, but he really always knew that’s where he would land. He started working at his father’s company when he was still in school, working his way through the ranks doing appraisals, commercial, property management, insurance and residential sales.
“C. Dan had a method to his madness and he wanted us to get experience in all areas of the company before handing over the reins,” Danny Joyner said.
Danny earned his broker’s license in 1987 and joined full-time in 1990. In 1996, he launched the commercial division and ran it for 17 years before he was named president of C. Dan Joyner in 2010.
Crigler joined the firm in 1986 and started selling real estate when “homes prices averaged in the $50,000 range,” Crigler said. He held a broker position for the next 20 or so years and took Seabrook Marchant’s broker-in-charge position when Marchant left the company to start his own firm.
Danny Joyner and Crigler serve as the company’s executive leadership team, and say they “just make it happen.” The two split duties based on each other’s strengths and say they tag-team everything.
Even though he had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in his 60s and lived with a defibrillator, C. Dan Joyner’s death in January 2012 at the age of 74 caught many by surprise. “He was obviously much sicker than he let on,” Danny Joyner said.
C. Dan Joyner had served on many boards and committees and his death was felt throughout the Greenville community.
Except for a brief period, the company has always been independently owned and operated, said Danny Joyner. In 1985, Merrill Lynch was buying up privately owned real estate companies across the country trying to grow its real estate business, he said. So C. Dan Joyner sold his company to Merrill Lynch, staying on as area president.
In 1990, Prudential bought all of Merrill Lynch’s real estate interests and sold them back to “whoever still wanted them,” Joyner said. C. Dan Joyner, along with five partners, formed a holding company and bought all of the companies back in North and South Carolina. The company’s name changed to Prudential Greater Carolinas.
In 1996, two of the partners were ready to get out of the business. Rather than keep the holding company, the partners decided they would each individually buy back their own areas they had originally sold to Merrill Lynch.
In 1997, the company once again became C. Dan Joyner Realtors. The company remained a partner with Prudential until February 2014, when the company affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
Looking to the future
The most dramatic change over the years has been technology, Danny Joyner said. Agents used to have their own offices, with their own fax machines, and sat waiting for the phone to ring. Now, many don’t come into the office on a daily basis and carry tablets to show customers listings and information on the spot.
To show a listing, an agent used to have to go to a listing office, pick up a key, go show the house and then return the key, Crigler said. Today it’s on a lockbox accessed via a smartphone, which saves a lot of time.
It’s all about helping people – whether agents or customers – based on their needs, Crigler said.
The company is very careful about maintaining the culture in the office when hiring agents, Crigler said. “It’s very much a family. We want good people – talented people, with a good heart,” he said, with most of their agents referred to the company by other agents. He said the company is also the only real estate firm with a full-time career director and career center. “It gets new agents up and running and provides ongoing support for seasoned reps,” he said.
Danny Joyner attributes the company’s success to being “an honorable company” with a long history. The experience of its leadership team and agents sets them apart, he said.
In the future, Danny Joyner said the firm plans to expand into Spartanburg and possibly open an office in the Five Forks/Greer area. Other projects are also in the works, but they’re too early to announce, he said.
Today, the firm has nine offices in the Upstate and more than 300 agents.
“We’re in growth mode right now,” said Crigler. “The Berkshire Hathaway change has been very positive for us. We have a real Real Estate partner that is going to help us in our growth plans.”