published on June 28, 2019 - 8:00 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

President and CEO  | The Pearson Companies — Pearson Realty, Newmark Pearson Commercial Real Estate, Retail California, The Ranch Co. and AgriBusiness Investment Group.

Education:Bachelor of Science degree from the USC School of Business.

Age: 74

Family: Married to Ann Stewart with two sons, Sean and James

What we do: The Pearson Companies, which turned 100 years old this year, owns and manages five companies with offices in Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield. 

Sixty agents, brokers, and support staff handle commercial real estate transactions for retail, investment, industrial, multi-unit housing and office properties. 

We also broker sales and purchases of agricultural properties, including rangeland, dairies, horse ranches, as well as farms growing nut crops, citrus, olives, grapes and tree fruit. Other ag-related properties we handle are cold storage, packing and processing facilities.

Tell us about the history of your business

In 1919, Oliver Wendell Pearson came from the Midwest to Fresno to visit his brother, but ended up staying. Together, they bought a ranch. Seeing firsthand the developing business of agriculture, Mr. Pearson noted the need for a realty company here that would specialize in marketing and selling farm and ranch properties, so he formed 

The 0.W. Pearson Company, which later became Pearson Realty. The core principles of the firm reflect Mr. Pearson’s personal beliefs in honesty, trust, reliability and positive results. Over the years, the stockholders have acquired real estate firms that share our philosophy of service.


What is your role in the organization?  

My principal duty is to guide our vision and nurture our companies’ long-term sustainability and growth. I enjoy representing the firm in the communities we serve, and I work with our agents and brokers to develop creative solutions for our clients.

How did you become involved with Pearson Realty?

I started my career in commercial real estate sales with CB Richard Ellis in the San Fernando Valley. I moved to Fresno in 1995 to become a managing director of that company’s local office. In 1999 I was recruited to lead Pearson Realty as president and CEO. 

Part of the draw of the job for me was that I would run and grow a business with a strong history and great potential for future success. 

Still, there were changes needed, including new technology, a reorganization of its sales force and new training methods, and I had a plan on how to do that, and I was excited by the opportunity to do so. 

In fact, after a little more than a year spent getting my feet wet in my new job, I implemented Pearson’s first “boot camp,” a three-month program run by myself and my more experienced brokers to train newly-hire brokers in how to best do their jobs. 


What was the best business advice you ever received? 

My baseball coach at USC, Rod Dedeaux, was fond of saying, “‘It only costs a dime more to go first class,” which basically means buying the cheapest thing or choosing the least costly option isn’t necessarily the best choice. 

Sometimes you have to spend more to make the right investment.

The other axiom came from a business associate talking about leadership. He said, “You can be the guy that posts slogans on the wall, comes into work before anyone else and is the last to leave, but you will be judged by the first person you hire and the first person you fire.” 

Those decisions reflect the types of people you want working in your business and in your work culture, which says a lot about you.


What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was delivering newspapers. Turns out, it was my favorite job, too. 

One of the things I liked about the job was the people around me urging me to do my best — even though I was just 11 years old or so — whether it was delivering papers, collecting payments from subscribers, etc. 

Doing your job to the best of your ability, even a menial one, is a lesson I took to heart and it has been a part of any job I’ve had since, which has included spending three years as a minor league baseball player and unloading boxes from trains during the off season. 

If you do a job halfway, that will follow you to the next jobs, even if you get the job of your dreams, because that is your habit. 


Why has Person Realty thrived in the Valley so long?

Our diversity of talent, with so many credentialed specialists with years of knowledge, makes us a clear choice in the markets we serve. 

That same diversity enables us to make a positive contribution to our community, developers, builders, farmers, ranchers, business owners and government leaders.

What is your philosophy about real estate and how have you extended it to the way your company does business?

Commercial real estate is complex. We drive our people to fully inform our clients with our expertise so that they can make quality decisions in any area of real estate.

What’s your advice to somebody looking to invest in real estate here?

Call me.


What are your future plans for Pearson Realty?

The board of directors and stockholders of The Pearson Companies are invested in quality improvement and continued growth. 

The first 100 years have been good to us and good for the Valley. Future plans call for innovative new services to offer even more value. 

In addition to our motto of a tradition in trust since 1919, we believe the best is yet to come.

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