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Real estate luminary and founder of the third-largest real estate brokerage in the country by transactions, Howard W. Hanna, Jr., celebrates his 100th birthday on Feb. 10, 2020.

“We could not be more excited to celebrate a living legend—our father’s life has been 100 years of greatness, and we’re thrilled to observe the occasion with family and friends,” said Howard W. “Hoddy” Hanna, III, chairman of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

Hanna Jr. founded the company in 1957 in Pittsburgh, after serving as an American Liaison Officer with the British Army in India during World War II. After earning his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, he and his late wife, Anne Freyvogel Hanna, began the company with a modest dividend check in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. From those simple beginnings grew a real estate powerhouse that is today comprised of 300 offices across 10 states.

Adding to Hanna Jr.’s rich legacy is the fact that Howard Hanna Real Estate Services is the largest family-owned and -operated real estate company in the nation. The patriarch’s passion and principles impacted and still guides the generations that follow in his footsteps.

“Both my parents believed we could always do better,” said company CEO Helen Hanna Casey in an interview with RISMedia. “Whatever we achieved, their belief was ‘let’s go to the next level.'”

Aside from strong business acumen, Casey emphasized that her father was also an early advocate for equality in real estate. “My dad hired woman in the ’50s when it wasn’t customary in the market,” she explained. “He also brought the first African American member into the MLS. He wasn’t always popular with other brokers, but he knew early on how important diversity is.”

Hanna Jr. was also ahead of his time in the technology realm. “He was an original and invested in ‘technology’ that others thought were just gadgets, such as the early Polaroid camera and Texas Instruments calculators; and he thought word processors would change the world,” said Casey. “He continued to use a computer until it became too difficult for his fingers.

“His vision of growth became ours, so it should be no surprise that we continue to invest in technology opportunities,” she added.

And it was that vision of growth that led Hanna Jr. to chart the course for success that still drives the company today.

“Today, our expansion inspires us all,” said Casey. “Our growth to the South through our Allen Tate partnership is part of our expansion plan. This enormous presence there gives us a foothold to grow the brand through mergers in the markets surrounding Tate. We also look to continue our expansion in New York and the East, as well as to seek opportunities in the Midwest.”

According to Casey, her father continues to be a part of the company, maintaining a caring, personal connection with associates and agents. “He is known as Mr. Hanna to some, boss to others, but Bop Bop to almost all,” she said.

Hanna Jr.’s accomplishments serve as the backbone of what the Howard Hanna brand means today. “He was always forward-thinking, always able to anticipate where the real estate world would go, and that’s why we’ve always been pioneers in a sense,” explained Casey. “Buyers and sellers recognize Howard Hanna’s ability to break new ground while maintaining a foundation of personal connection.

“We are on the move,” she added. “After all, our dad thinks we can do better!”

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