Willis Allen Real Estate has been firmly rooted in San Diego traditions, culture, and history since it was founded as a small business in 1914 by Frederick L. Brown. Now with 8 locations and more than 250 employees, Willis Allen has grown to become one of the largest real estate firms in Southern California. Brown’s goal was to build a business based around timeless, authentic values that are still very much a priority today – superior service, knowledgeable agents, and ethical business practices. They soon made their way to La Jolla, and in 1924 helped found the Real Estate Broker’s Association of La Jolla, which was created to promote industry ethics and professionalism. It was in 1940 that the company’s namesake, Willis Allen, Sr., bought the business and changed the company name. He opened up a second location in Rancho Santa Fe in 1952 and then a third in Del Mar in 1973. In 1977, the company was bought by Andrew E. Nelson, current CEO. He was named president in 1980, and purchased all remaining shares in the company in 1995 from Willis Allen Sr. He then expanded the business into Point Loma in 1988 and finally downtown San Diego in 2004, two locations that are thriving today. Despite the changes in ownership throughout the years, Willis Allen’s core values have remained the same: family and city come first. It has always been a family-owned company, and the current owners plan to keep it that way – Andrew’s sons, Drew and Tim Nelson, both work as realtors for the family business. Real estate clearly runs in their veins; both brothers have acknowledged the large role that the company has played in their lives, and Drew loves what he does so much he seems to live and breathe it: “Being a realtor is a lifestyle more than a job. You can’t disconnect in the true sense of the word; however, you have to know when things can wait.” The way Willis Allen has advertised has changed over the years, as well. The company began advertising with the La Jolla Blue Book in the 1940s, and by 1968 their ads were becoming relatively sophisticated. The darker photo on the right is the front of their old office on Wall Street.
In 1989, they celebrated their 75th anniversary with a full-page ad:
And by 2001, their ad began to look a bit more updated and refined – they were now listing the names of their realtors and the addresses of their new startup locations.
The face of their advertisements and the name of their CEOs may have changed over the years, but the values and dedication to the city of San Diego have certainly remained the same.
Do you remember Willis Allen being around in the 70s and 80s? Share your experiences with us on Facebook or in the comments below!
Share, post and engage with the La Jolla community by using hashtag#LaJollaBB. Images courtesy of willisallen.com and facebook.com
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