Hanson family celebrates 100 years in real estate business

Three generations of the Hanson family were joined by more than 160 employees of the Hampshire Cos., NAI James E. Hanson and Roebling Investment Co. and their guests on Jan. 12 at Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hanson family’s work in the real estate industry.

What began in the early 1920s with James E. Hanson’s initial foray into commercial leasing and residential sales in Bergen County, expanded and transformed through the years. Under Hanson’s leadership, the nation’s first single-story industrial park was developed from the 560-acre swampy area surrounding Teterboro Airport.

The success of that terminal paved the way for James E. Hanson to launch his own company, and, in 1955, he started James E. Hanson and Co. with his three sons, Peter O. Hanson, Jon F. Hanson and Donald L. Hanson, eventually joining him in the business.

Following James E. Hanson’s untimely death in 1966, the leadership of the business was passed to Peter, Jon and Donald Hanson, who oversaw the company’s growth into a national real estate development, investment and management firm.

“My father began his career in the real estate industry 100 years ago on the simple foundation of tireless hard work and steadfast integrity,” Jon Hanson said. “As a family, and across our businesses, we honor his legacy in the work we do each day and use the lessons he taught us over the years to continue to build success in an increasingly competitive real estate landscape.”

When Peter, Jon, and Donald Hanson’s children expressed interest in joining the family business, the brothers recognized the potential challenges that often arise when a family business transitions from the second to the third generation.

“It is exceptionally rare for family businesses to thrive well into their third and fourth generation,” Donald Hanson said. “We’ve been able to be successful and continue that success across multiple generations due to my dad instilling in us the importance of mentoring future generations and by modeling his entrepreneurial spirit to guide our growth.”

To ensure the continuation of the family legacy, the brothers split James E. Hanson and Co. into three separately owned companies. Peter Hanson became chairman of NAI James E. Hanson, Jon Hanson became chairman of the Hampshire Cos. and Donald Hanson became chairman of Roebling Investment Co. Under the leadership of Peter, Jon and Donald Hanson, as well as their sons, William C. Hanson, James E. Hanson II and Michael Hanson, and their daughter, Deborah Paige Hanson, the businesses have grown into three of the industry’s most respected commercial real estate companies.

Today, NAI James E. Hanson is the largest independent commercial real estate firm in New Jersey, the Hampshire Cos. is a full-service private real estate investment firm with investments across the nation and Roebling Investment Co. specializes in single-tenant retail and office building investments across the country.

The 100th anniversary celebration featured a panel discussion moderated by James Hanson II, CEO and president of the Hampshire Cos., which provided a candid and insightful discussion from Peter, Jon and Donald Hanson. The panel detailed the stories behind their respective companies and how the powerful legacy of James E. Hanson continues to guide their work.

“The Hanson Legacy,” a documentary highlighting the Hanson family’s history in the real estate business and the goals of the third and fourth generations of Hanson family leadership, premiered at the event.