The company was founded in 1906 in Columbia by Walter A. Keenan as The Keenan Company. Following Walter A. Keenan’s leadership, the company was led by his son, Walter M. Keenan. John W. Folsom joined the firm in 1993 as President and CEO and continues to serve in that capacity today.
In the early days of the business, Walter A.’s staff consisted only of himself and an assistant. Business was conducted by going door-to-door, serving as a broker representing local buyers and sellers in the acquisition of commercial real estate. He carried the company through The Great Depression as the railroad system and Columbia’s skyline grew larger. Until the 1960s, The Keenan Company was the only firm in Columbia focusing exclusively on commercial real estate.
Burley Kittrell joined Walter A. as his partner and was a principal of the company until his untimely passing in May of 1972. Burley was best known for his mentorship within their team, which at the time consisted of himself, Walter A. and his son, Walter M., Robert Selman, the company’s first salesperson, an assistant and a bookkeeper.
The company began to grow dramatically under Walter M. Keenan who joined The Keenan Company in 1951 and remained active until his passing in 2008. Walter M. guided the company through economic ups and downs, changes to the industry, new technology and the rapidly expanding South Carolina market.
A commitment was established to invest in the people who could be leaders in the market. Success became dependent on hiring top-notch professionals who were eager and talented as it became important to keep up with the changing times and new technologies.
Walter M.’s “selling” personality and love of people is evident in the memories of him shared by colleagues, family, friends and business acquaintances. For example, it was not an uncommon occurrence for him to take a napkin from a restaurant, lean on the hood of the car, and write a contract on the spot to be negotiated over a handshake.
Having had a deep devotion to the community and to giving back, he donated his money, time and mentorship to help those in need. This principle of giving back to the community remains at the forefront of the company today. Colliers’ six core values are: service, expertise, community, fun, integrity and collaboration. These are all principles passed down from the original Keenan Company leadership and are an integral part of the company’s culture.
Henry W. “Woody” Moore, Jr. joined the company in 1971 as a sales associate and was mentored by Burley Kittrell. He was promoted to Vice President of Sales in 1973 and remained in leadership management until 2013. He is still part of the organization today.
In 1984, The Keenan Company affiliated with Colliers International to take advantage of the expanding global commercial real estate market and to benefit from the broad resources available through Colliers. Colliers International is one of the leading global commercial real estate organizations with a worldwide network which provides a competitive edge to customized real estate services. Colliers International sought to align with dominant local companies and The Keenan Company’s strong reputation in South Carolina led to this collaboration.
In 1989, the ownership of the company was expanded beyond the Keenan family to include the company’s leadership team. Shortly thereafter, the company partnered with Bob Nuttall, Sr. in Charleston to launch The Keenan Company of Charleston.
The next significant hire by the company was Mickey Layden who joined The Keenan Company as a property manager in 1986 and was promoted to Vice President of Property Management in 1989. As one of her major accomplishments, she created a project management division utilizing her extensive background in the technical aspects of architecture and construction, as well as experience with facilities management. The division began by managing tenant improvements and quickly moved into management of green field construction projects. In 2001, the division was incorporated into an independent LLC and was branded as LCK. Today, Mickey is the President and CEO of LCK, which is designated as a Woman Owned Business. In 2021, LCK has nearly one billion dollars of construction projects in progress across South Carolina and the Southeast. LCK has a staff of 12 project management professionals in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg.
David Lockwood joined the company in 1986 in office leasing and moved into management in 1992. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President and COO | South Carolina and as the Market President in Columbia. It is also noteworthy that Neel Keenan, grandson of Walter A. and son of Walter M., has been with the company since 1976.
John W. Folsom joined the company in 1993 as President and CEO. Formerly the President and CEO of a statewide financial institution, John brought his unique experience from that field to the Keenan Company, including creating a more corporate and strategic approach to conducting business.
Colliers Keenan’s expansion into Greenville took place in 1999 as a joint venture with The Goldsmith Company which had key agents focusing on commercial real estate. The Greenville operation was known as Colliers Keenan Goldsmith until 2006 when it became Colliers International Greenville LLC.
The company’s current senior leadership team also includes:
Neil Jones, CFO
David Feild, Greenville-Spartanburg Market President
Jim Garrett, Charleston Market President
David Cuda, Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Solutions
Debbie Lane, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Management Services
In 2010, the global corporate Colliers International organization united firms across the globe and committed to working under a single brand name. At that time, Colliers Keenan became known as Colliers International | South Carolina.
In 2015, the global organization of Colliers International began trading on the NASDAQ (CIGI) and TSX (CIG) as one of the leading publicly traded commercial real estate firms with operations in more than 60 countries around the world. Colliers International South Carolina remains a privately owned affiliate of the brand which provides the benefits of the corporate company’s global reach and deep resources for marketing, research, brokerage referrals, valuation, capital markets and many other resources.
In 2018, Colliers International | South Carolina opened a fourth office in Spartanburg to address the opportunities of that rapidly expanding commercial real estate market.
In 2021, Colliers launched a new visual identity as part of its global brand strategy designed for the evolving digital era. Most notably, “International” has been dropped from the name and logo. Colliers offices in South Carolina are now known as Colliers | South Carolina.
Through Folsom’s leadership, Colliers has strategically differentiated itself among other commercial real estate firms in the state through its concentration of talent in staff holding professional designations, its vast portfolio of properties under management, its project management partner with unmatched resources in the state and a successful corporate services platform.
Today, Colliers | South Carolina has over 140 staff members, including 62 licensed real estate professionals, covering the entire state with locations in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg. The company is proud of its 49 staff members who hold advanced degrees and professional designations.
The company has 41 brokerage professionals in South Carolina. 2021 is expected to be a record-breaking year for the company’s brokerage oprations with transactional volume over $850 million.
Colliers | South Carolina offers Corporate Solutions, which is headed by David Cuda, to anticipate client needs through the client’s perspective and work to design real estate strategies and align them with business objectives to empower clients to make smart real estate decisions.
Since 1989, the company’s property management division, known as Real Estate Management Services (REMS), has grown from managing 1.5 million square feet of space in Columbia to over 17 million square feet of space across South Carolina with 27 property managers and support staff. Colliers is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO) through the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
The company’s accounting and financial services department has grown into a 12-person team and is led by two Certified Public Accountants.
The marketing and research team has expanded from one position in Columbia in the 1990s to a 15-person team in the company’s four offices. The company’s marketing endeavors are cutting-edge and are recognized annually on a national level.
Globally, Colliers has operations in 67 countries with more than 15,000 enterprising professionals and annualized revenues of $3.0 billion ($3.3 billion including affiliates) and $40 billion of assets under management.