RE/MAX parent appoints former DISH Network exec as CEO

Erik Carlson comes to RE/MAX Holdings in the wake of Adam Contos’ departure. He also joins the company at a tumultuous time for the real estate industry.

After a lengthy search that followed the departure of Adam Contos, RE/MAX parent company RE/MAX Holdings announced Monday that it had appointed a former CEO of the DISH Network Corporation as the franchisor’s new chief.

RE MAX CEO Board Member Erik Carlson

Erik Carlson

Erik Carlson’s new tenure at RE/MAX Holdings began Monday. A statement from RE/MAX states Carlson was chosen after a “comprehensive search” and that while at DISH “he oversaw the company’s day-to-day operations, managing over $15 billion in revenue, and was instrumental in successful acquisitions.” RE/MAX Holdings Chairman and co-founder Dave Liniger added in the statement that Carlson “is the ideal executive to take over.”

“He is a strong, well-rounded leader with decades-long experience overseeing large businesses and managing high-performance teams in a disruptive industry, with a self-described ‘obsessive focus on the customer,’ all of which makes him uniquely qualified to lead RE/MAX Holdings through its next phase of growth,” Liniger added.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Carlson began his career at DISH in 1995, gradually working his way up the ladder. He held the position of president and CEO for six years, right up until he left this month to join RE/MAX.

The search for a new CEO at RE/MAX Holdings began in February when then-CEO Adam Contos announced he was leaving the company. Contos had been at the company for 19 years. His announcement surprised the industry, but he later explained that he spent significant time on the road and wanted to leave the position in order to focus on other entrepreneurial endeavors and to spend more time with his family.

After Contos’ departure, RE/MAX board member Stephen Joyce took over as interim CEO.

RE/MAX Holdings is the parent of both brokerage franchisor RE/MAX as well as Motto Mortgage. Nick Bailey serves as the CEO of RE/MAX’s franchise business and is not a part of this year’s leadership shakeup.

Carlson comes to the real estate industry at a challenging time. After the bull housing market of the early COVID-19 pandemic, rising mortgage rates have gradually sapped the industry’s momentum over the last two years. The result is a landscape with little inventory and where buyers face serious affordability hurdles.

That environment has taken a toll on RE/MAX; when the company reported earnings earlier this month it revealed that its revenue declined between July and September — the fifth consecutive quarter of declines.  The company also suffered a net loss of $59.5 million in the quarter, a reversal from the $100,000 in profit it made during the third quarter of last year.

In addition to a challenging housing market, Carlson also comes to the company in the aftermath of the Sitzer | Burnett verdict. The verdict, which sided with homeseller-plaintiffs and against major industry players, was the latest chapter in a bombshell lawsuit challenging the way agents get paid. RE/MAX had been a defendant in the case but filed a proposed settlement before the trial began.

RE/MAX has also settled the similar Moehrl case, but there is a proliferating number of commission-based lawsuits — meaning the industry is likely to face pressure to change in the near future.

As CEO, Carlson will now have to contend with whatever those changes look like, even as their scope and scale remain unclear at this point. On the other hand, the satellite TV business in which Carlson previously worked has also faced significant disruption in recent decades thanks to the rise of internet-based streaming services such as Netflix. That means the new RE/MAX CEO is no stranger to change or hard times.

In any case, in Monday’s statement, Carlson said that he is excited to start work at RE/MAX Holdings, adding that it is a “company whose entrepreneurial spirit I have long admired.”

“Dave and Gail Liniger founded and have built an enduring real estate institution with great brands and highly productive networks that span the world,” Carlson concluded. “I look forward to joining the RE/MAX Holdings team and applying my operational expertise as well as my experience working with local businesses and serving local communities to further extend the Company’s success.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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