‘Hoby’ Hanna looks for core values when Howard Hanna pursues M&As

Evaluate the ideas and suggestions that are made, but watch for knee-jerk reactions to them. In other words, don’t make an emotional rather than an analytical response.

“We try to keep an open mind, and we try to learn, but your hope is that if you’re buying good, existing operations, there’s a reason that they had success,” Hanna says. “You just don’t want to throw away everything they’ve ever done. You want to ask, ‘What are the best practices?’

“Then you want to continually try to find the best practices, the best products, and then take those best practices where you can into new markets and take them across the whole footprint of an organization.”



  • Find a similar culture when scouting for acquisitions.
  • Open the lines of communication and listen.
  • Expect a glitch or two and plan solutions.


The Hanna file

Name: Howard W. “Hoby” Hanna IV
Company: Howard Hanna Real Estate Services
Title: President, Howard Hanna Midwest

Born: Pittsburgh. My father is Howard W. “Hoddy” Hanna III. The business was started by Howard W. Hanna Jr. in 1957.

Education: University of Pittsburgh. I studied not business administration, but political science and history! But I worked every summer, while growing up, at our family business — I did everything from putting signs in the ground to just learning different aspects. There was some part of me that never expected to go into the business, but I think I was exposed to it so much that it became natural.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? When I was in college, I had a couple of different businesses that I started with some friends. We sold college novelty items, T-shirts and other items to fraternities and sororities. But I guess my first job actually was delivering newspapers. I learned how tough it was to collect from some people who never were home when you went to collect. So I figured it was better to automate and get people to pay you ahead of time.

Who do you admire in business? I’d say first and foremost is my dad. He’s been an incredible influence to me in terms of how he operates his business and how he communicates with people and just has been not only a father, but a great teacher.

What was the best business advice you ever received? To under-promise and over-deliver. It was earlier in my career when I was really enthusiastic and excited about wanting to do something and maybe set the bar too high. d I had a mentor of mine say who said you’re better off to not over-promise and just to over-deliver, and that’s resonated with me, especially on big projects, especially on audacious goals. But don’t brag about the expectations, you deliver the expectations. Deliver the result.

What’s your definition of business success? From my prospective, it’s sustained positive results. I think there’s a lot of businesses that put a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, into — you know, had one flash in the pan and had a big year or a big quarter, but it’s to continue to sustain that success year after year, decade after decade, and just have a consistency of results.