Real estate company back on Inc. 500 list

TRAVERSE CITY – The McKeough Land Co., developer of recreational, waterfront and waterview properties, has been named to Inc. Magazine's annual Top 500 list of the fastest-growing privately-held businesses in the United States.

"We all feel extremely honored to make this list four years in a row," said Chris McCrumb, general manager of the Traverse City office.

The company ranks 335 out of 500 and is among 30 companies listed in the real estate category. Based in Grand Haven, McKeough also has offices in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado and North Carolina.

"If you want to find out which companies are going to change the world, look at the Inc. 500," said Inc. Editor Jane Berentson. "These are the most innovative, dynamic, fast-growth companies in the nation…The Inc. 500 list is Inc. magazine's tribute to American business ingenuity and ambition."

To qualify, a business must be privately held and independent, based in the United States and meet net sales of at least $600,000.

McKeough's sales were $37 million in 2005. The northern Michigan office sold 36 percent of the company-wide total. McCrumb expects it to be lower this year due to the company's expansion of new offices in new territories.

McKeough specializes in the acquisition, development and sale of recreational properties in areas of the country that are "unique and desirable."

"Most of our customers are either buying for investment or plan to build a second home or retirement home," said McCrumb, who's directed the Traverse City office since it opened in 1999.

How does a real estate company stand out in what many are calling a sluggish market and lagging state economy?

Being in a niche market helps.

"Vacant land is all we do and we have figured out ways to do high-quality, low-impact projects that are very desirable to those considering an investment in northern Michigan," McCrumb said.

Vacant land hasn't been impacted in the same way as residential real estate sales, he added.

"People still love the idea of owning land…it's our job to make their dream of land ownership a reality," says McCrumb. "Interest rates continue to be low and investing in land has historically done extremely well over the course of time,"

It also helps to hire top-notch employees.

"We have great people working for this company," he added. "They are not only talented, they truly care about the people we do business with."

Each year the company sets a "stretch goal" and if employees reach it, they get a free trip.

"Last year McKeough hit its net profit target and everyone went to Hawaii," McCrumb said.

The company has 52 employees, with seven in the Traverse City office.

McKeough is doing business in 10 states and is considering expansion into other states as well. Projects will continue in the northern Lower Peninsula, and future development in the Upper Peninsula is being considered.

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