Stevenson, Williams Company has been a fixture in the Pittsburgh real estate community since 1919. Originally incorporated on March 29, 1919 as the Stevenson, Williams and Johnston Company, Lawrence T. Stevenson, Benjamin F. Williams and Percy H. Johnston became the first three officers of the fledgling company. For the first several years, the company was based within the growing city of Pittsburgh in the historic Union Trust building on Grant Street. It was in these offices that a business strategy was mapped out that would take the company to it’s present location in Mt. Lebanon. These three men agreed that the future laid within the rich, wide-open farmlands to the south of the city.
The opening of the Liberty Tunnels in 1924 solidified this vision as the once distant suburbs were now easily accessible to the everyday family. However, by the time of the move into the new office building in 1927, the company had already undergone one major change. Following the resignation of Percy Johnston in 1926, the remaining partners decided to operate as the Stevenson, Williams Company. Under this new name and from within the new offices, many of the Route 19 South Hills corridor residential housing communities were planned. Lawrence T. Stevenson, the visionary of these communities, became a nationally celebrated land developer and had served as the President of the Pittsburgh Real estate Board and later, in 1932, as the President of the National Association of Real Estate Boards. President Herbert Hoover appointed him that same year to work with Congress to help establish a central discount bank for home mortgage financing. The act which emerged from these efforts created the Home Loan Bank System.
By the mid 1930’s the company had expanded it’s list of services to include mortgage financing, property management and insurance sales. It had also lost the last of its founders as Lawrence Stevenson passed away in 1935. His brother, James W. Stevenson M.D. was immediately elected by the remaining shareholders to succeed him as President. In 1939, his son, James W. Stevenson Jr. began a career that spanned over four decades at the company. It was within these four decades that Stevenson, Williams would experience some of its highest peaks as well as its lowest valleys. The company continued to build upon its excellent reputation of land development and a large real estate sales staff complimented the entire operation. Several key real estate acquisitions were made which would prove to have long-lasting beneficial effects. James W. Stevenson Jr., who had succeeded his father as President of the corporation in 1959, became a bit of a pioneer himself as he successfully started the areas first real estate multi-list system. In addition, he opened a new specialized division within the company.
The condominium association management division began to function in 1974 as Western Pennsylvania’s first condominium association became it’s first client. This form of property management was new to this region but James W. Stevenson Jr. saw it as the way of the future. Several other newly formed condominium associations soon followed suit and were added to the growing portfolio of properties managed by the company. While it’s bread and butter remained land development and sales, the property management division was growing at a quick pace. When larger, national real estate sales companies discovered the Pittsburgh market in the late 1970’s, the local sales agents were easily induced into leaving the local companies because of the favorable commission splits offered by these national firms. This had a devastating effect on the “neighborhood” real estate companies and many were unable to pull through this hurdle. Based on the vision and forethought of James W. Stevenson Jr. the company was poised to weather the storm.
The next several years were marked with stability on the real estate side of the company and growth of the insurance sales end. James W. Stevenson III had become President of the company during this tumultuous time and he provided the leadership that was necessary given the difficult circumstances. His clear-minded plan included the complete automation of the accounting division of the company in 1981. Today, this may seem like no large task but at the time, it was a completely new technology for a small business and was an expensive endeavor to undertake. He was the first officer in the corporation’s existence that excelled in insurance sales. The company’s book of insurance business more than doubled under his watch. Once again, Stevenson, Williams was able to reinvent itself and adjust it’s business philosophy to meet the opportunities of the time.
In 1991, Robert W. Stevenson accepted the position of rental property manager at the company. Although relatively inexperienced at that time, he quickly learned that customer service and an attention to detail would prove to be worthy attributes in this challenging profession. Robert was voted in as President of the corporation at the December, 2005 shareholders meeting and since that point has been able to provide a strong, steady hand of leadership to the entire company. A course of growth has been set in place for each division within Stevenson, Williams. The insurance agency has exceeded the prior year’s earnings in each of the last five years while the property management company has nearly tripled the total number of units under contract since 2004. The client retention rate has been astounding as nearly all of the rental properties and condominium associations that were clients thirty years ago are still clients today.
The future of this 102 year old company is extremely strong. The same principles that built the foundation of this company still serve it well today. The founding partners would be proud of the high level of professionalism and the attention to detail that customers receive each day at Stevenson, Williams. These are the ideals that have set the company apart from its competitors since 1919.
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