Celebrating 100 years!

With Yentis & Co. Realtors celebrating its 100thAnniversary this year, I wanted to share some reflections on our journey with friends, family, colleagues, and the Greater Philadelphia community we call home. We are proud to be included in the 3% of family-owned businesses that make it to the fourth generation. We’ve been named a top family-owned business, and one of the oldest businesses in the Philadelphia region by the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2021.

Jeff Goldstone, George Goldstone & Andy Rubin

What Makes Us Different?

Our hands-on approach to customer service and the dedication and experience of many employees has allowed us to keep operating continuously for 100 years. We’ve worked hard to foster relationships and earn the reputation that we’ve passed down from generation to generation, similar to the way many of our clients have. I took over leadership of Yentis & Co. Realtors from my father George in 1997, who served as President starting in 1961. One of our favorite tenants, Hymie’s Delicatessen has been a Main Line staple for over 60 years. Hymie’s current owner, Louis Barson, took over from his father in the ‘90s. He still greets us with the same smile and comfort food that we’ve enjoyed with our family for decades. Family-owned businesses are the backbone of the American economy.

Meeting with Louis Barson from the well-known Hymie’s Deli

My grandfather Herbert Yentis founded the company in 1921. He was a first-generation American from Ukraine who crossed the pond in 1908. He was a hardworking man that started and ended work when it was dark outside. Knowing the importance of putting family first, we’ve taken care to treat our employees like family. We have had 13 current or former employees work for the company for over 30 years. My father George implemented a cutting-edge profit-sharing plan in 1976, well before this was common practice. We also were one of the first businesses on the Main Line to embrace technology, installing computers before our neighbors.

We work with everyone – from family-owned businesses to large corporate tenants like Wawa – because we do it all. In an industry that’s become increasingly specialized, we are ‘soup to nuts’; we do everything from ground acquisition to construction and property management, and even residential sales.

While we’ve evolved in many ways to expand our business to 18 municipalities and 13 townships, we’ve refused to compromise on customer service. We’re on a first name basis with every single tenant and always provide them with a senior level employee to manage their property.

Photo circa 1997 from construction on a retail building in Bryn Mawr, PA

Overcoming Adversity

Many people ask us how real estate – and the economy at large – is faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The world is still dealing with the fallout today, but our outlook is bright. We’ve kept our vacancy rate steadily low and continued pursuing new business throughout. We proudly serve 325 retail business tenants today. We admire the way our tenants have responded, with true Philly-style determination and grit. While COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, it’s helpful perspective to remember that HY overcame the Great Depression and emerged stronger. As with all economic disruption, tenants learn to adapt.

We are continuously impressed by the ingenuity of our tenants. Take just one example. We had a ticket agency as one of our tenants. When quarantine mandates shut down all in-person events that the agency would have sold tickets for, they had to think on their feet. Ultimately, they utilized their online expertise and started selling outdoor products that had increased demand because people are spending more time outdoors. Today they remain tenants because we worked with them through this challenging time. We handle situations on a case-by-case basis and try to understand where our tenants are coming from. Our company is about much more than filling commercial space. It’s about taking a long-term view, since we believe that our client’s success is our success.

While it is our first time dealing with a pandemic in our lifetimes, this isn’t the first adversity this company has faced – and we’ve handled everything thrown at us.

Employees at the company endured religious discrimination in the 1950’s and tragedy struck towards the end of that decade when our head salesman died and Herbert Yentis had a stroke that same weekend. Our business was targeted in the 1980’s because we sold property to Black families in the neighborhood. We received angry letters and phone calls and even had our windows broken twice. We’ve always been proud to serve all our tenants, property owners, and clients with the same high level of professionalism and respect.

Looking Forward

Sensing an opportunity, many of our restaurants have decided to create more outdoor spaces, something long associated with European culture. Additionally, many restaurants have expanded their takeout business and introduced curbside pickup. These trends I could envision remaining in post-pandemic Philadelphia.

Greater Philadelphia is reopening as America begins edging towards normal slowly but surely. We confidently project an increase in customers as people become comfortable returning to their pre-pandemic shopping habits.

We are proud to celebrate 100 years of serving Greater Philadelphia and are so excited to see what the next century brings!

The Ad Which Started it All?

H. Yentis ad from January 1922. Commercial activity dates back to at least 1921 in preparation for this ad at the start of the year.

Ad from May 16, 1922, with a number of listings by that time