By Jim Denton
March 7, 2023

Impact on Edmond: Bob and Martha Turner

Bob and Martha Turner helped build the Edmond residential community over the past five decades.

It was that pivotal day in every college freshman’s life. Martha Kolarik sat waiting on her small bed in Stout Hall on the Oklahoma State University campus. Then, in walked “Connie,” Martha’s newly assigned roommate. Connie was a sophomore, and it was apparent she had lots of friends. With lots of exuberance, lunch plans were made, and the gang performed a mass exodus. Connie headed out to the noisy hallway. Martha sighed as she heard the commotion moving down the corridor into the distance. Then, Connie’s head popped back in the doorway, “Well, are you coming or not?” That was the beginning. Martha was included!

Through Connie, Martha discovered the confidence that propelled her to take more risks and meet new people. Connie then invited Martha to the OSU Baptist Student Union, where she, after a few school terms, met Bob Turner.

Not knowing if he could afford college, Bob worked as a gas station attendant in California for a while. A dear friend who saw promising attributes said he’d send $10 a month if Bob would give college a chance. While at OSU, he married Martha and got his master’s degree in economics.

Fast forward to the 1960s. Bob and Martha had three little ones at home. Bob had a solid government job at the state Capitol but quickly learned his career path would only improve if he were to take a job in Washington, D.C. A couple of days in the nation’s capital convinced him Oklahoma was the place for him and the growing Turner family.

With what is termed these days as a “side hustle,” the Turners acquired several rental properties in Oklahoma City to make extra money. At that time, purchasers could assume government FHA and VA mortgages and transfer titles for small amounts of money and minimal paperwork. Martha recalls that the houses she and Bob owned had dishwashers, and her house didn’t! Bob added, “she made me well aware of that.”

The Turners employed the extra cash the rent houses provided to fund more purchases of houses and apartments. They were drawn to the real estate business, and both earned their real estate licenses.

Bob opened an office for real estate sales in Oklahoma City. While caring for the three little ones, Martha made cold calls during the day to schedule appointments for Bob to try to sign up listings in the evening after working at the Capitol all day.

Later, it was apparent that people were gravitating to Edmond. The school system was the main attraction. The rural living that Edmond offered, along with natural trees and larger lots, was ideal for many families. The Turners moved to Edmond and built a home in Ramblewood Hills at Coffee Creek and Santa Fe. When the developer suddenly passed away, Bob helped his widow complete the subdivision.

Bob opened Bob Turner & Associates in 1970 in a mobile building on South Broadway—near where the Braum’s store is now located, south of Burton Street. There was very little development south of 15th Street, so it was a great location to be available to Oklahoma City traffic coming to Edmond. Later, the company name was changed to Turner & Company.

Truman Miller (Abide Inc., Realtors) and the Turners were in MLS (multi-list service) in Edmond. An MLS realtor could bring buyers to the seller and split the commission. At the time, non-MLS realtors would not participate, and therefore, their customers would miss out on buying and selling opportunities.

Bob pursued land development to sell home-building lots to home builders. He went to seminars put on by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to learn best practices and techniques.

Seeing how this could work, Bob sought out a savings and loan institution with a presentation for financing, and the institution invited him to participate in a joint venture involving a large parcel that had become available. The financial institution planned to advance the money, and Bob would do the leg work. This was a successful partnership, but years later, laws changed, and savings and loan institutions were prohibited from owning and managing development activities.

In the tough 1980s, Turner & Company would complete homes abandoned by failed builders.

The Turners’ sons, BK and Derek, joined them in developing and building the business. Since 1997, Derek Turner has owned and directed Turner & Company. BK and his wife, Kate, are the owners of Redrock Builders. When BK left the company, Martha became the commercial and residential builder. BK mentored Martha until she learned about the business.

Turner & Company continues as independent land developers, including Coffee Creek, many neighborhoods in the Oakdale community, plus commercial developments and several multi-family communities.

Fast forward to now. Since 1970, Turner & Company has developed, built on, or sold between 5,000 and 6,000 lots in Edmond: a remarkable accomplishment!

The secret sauce

Asking the Turners what their advice would be to budding entrepreneurs, Martha’s response was to “have a lot of guts!”

The Turners broke into the real estate industry decades ago, beginning with rent houses. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

She went on to say, “we didn’t know how risky it was” to trade those mortgages in the early days. It worked! Taking such risks provided needed capital to start their business. Bob and Martha followed their dreams.

Bob’s advice was to find mentors in the business that can help you. He added, “at the same time, be willing to share what you know with others.”

The couple stressed that an understanding of business and real estate financing was essential, as well as having a “Plan B” if your initial idea didn’t work. It’s also necessary to have some money in reserve before taking risks.

If you’re married, make sure your spouse is on the same page about the risks involved.

Also, keeping your word is worth gold. Admit when you make a mistake. The economy is up and down; long-term success comes from learning experiences, both good and bad.

The couple emphasized getting involved in the community. Martha recalls being involved in the selection committee for a new fire chief in Edmond. Martha’s question for the candidate was, “In your current role, what are you doing for your community?” It was a difficult question for the candidates but an important one to ask a person who will have a public role.

Leading by example, the Turners’ contribution to the Edmond community has been notable. Bob served on the board of Francis Tuttle Technology Center for over 30 years, and he served the remainder of an Edmond City Council term when Mayor Charles Lamb suddenly passed away in late 2018. Martha and Bob have served on countless boards of organizations, business clubs, and committees over the years.

Turner & Company is known for making the best use of natural surroundings and conservation areas and emphasizing attributes of the land while creating excellent development. The Chitwood Farms and Faircloud neighborhoods are great examples. Adding that extra feature to the development was a way to differentiate them to their builder clients and future homeowners.

Family matters

Family businesses can be especially difficult. Quizzing them on what practices they employed to realize such stellar results. Martha’s response was insightful, “Everyone has a job description and very distinct roles.” Also, she added that she and Bob are referred to as “Martha and Bob,” not “Mom and Dad” at the office.

Bob and Martha were unconventional when raising their three children. Growing up, the Turner kids were responsible for paying their way by doing chores. Martha designed a point system and kept a notebook to track chores that needed to be done and how many points each task was worth. Each child started the year with a set budget, and the point values were then established. Out of the point system, each would buy their clothes, meals, lunch at school, vehicles, insurance, etc.

The point system taught them the value of things and the work it took to provide things. Martha personally hired her daughter, Susan, since she was at a disadvantage versus the boys. Susan did all kinds of housework. “When Susan left home, I cried because she helped me so much.” Martha also mused that due to the point system, the Turner kids sometimes gamed the system to their advantage.

The results were that Susan worked at TCU, where she managed a substantial orientation budget. Derek remodeled condos and bought and sold Ford Broncos for profit. BK built his first home when he was still in school. The Turner point system accounted for about 75% of their cost. It was obvious to the children that each had to earn some extra income from outside the family. Later, it made each of them natural money managers and business developers.

Bob asked Susan if she would be interested in the home-building business, but she had her sights on other pursuits and became an English teacher for Edmond Public Schools.

The legacy

The couple is especially pleased their legacy is not about creating a company. Rather, it is being part of three generations of a family that has had a small part in helping Edmond grow from 12,000 people to over 100,000 today.

The company raised the bar for landscaping and subdivision entrances in our community. Through travel and national conference participation, they have brought new ideas from other areas of the country to Edmond.

Realizing Edmond’s shortage of affordable housing for the next generation of homebuyers and service industry employees, Bob and Martha have been instrumental in the Edmond faith-based organization called Turning Point, which provides housing to lower-income families.

Now retired, the Turners live in an addition that Bob developed. Their home was constructed by their grandson, Harrison Turner, a member of the next generation of Turners in Edmond.

When looking back on what this Edmond couple has accomplished, their path is God-directed in many ways: how they met in college, the start of their business, their amazing family, and all the people they have helped along the way. Edmond is truly a better community because of them.

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About Jim Denton

Jim Denton, CPA/PFS, CGMA is Partner Emeritus of Arledge & Associates, PC where he is responsible for providing leadership to the firm’s Wealth Management firm, Summit Capital Advisors, LLC. Mr. Denton empowers his clients, so they may live their best life. He may be reached by email at

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