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Posted on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Edward Surovell Realtors merges into Howard Hanna Company, 4th largest real estate company in U.S.

By Ben Freed


Edward Surovell announces his company's merger with Howard Hanna Company Wednesday as Howard "Hoddy" Hanna looks on.

Courtney Sacco |

Edward Surovell Realtors, a leading independent real estate company in Washtenaw County with locations in multiple counties, has been owned and managed by Ed Surovell since it was founded 30 years ago.

Similarly, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the fourth-largest real estate company in America, has been owned and operated by the Hanna family since it was founded by Howard and Anne Hanna in 1957 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

At a joint press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Dahlmann Campus Inn, Surovell announced that his company would be merging into Howard Hanna, a company that last year closed 34,292 transactions with nearly $6 billion in volume.

All employees of Surovell will be retained in the merger, and Hanna already has announced plans to expand further in Michigan.

“Hanna is not interested only in Ann Arbor, but in all of the state of Michigan,” said Ed Surovell, who will be staying on with the company as chairman of the board of Howard Hanna Michigan.

“They did not come here to be number two. They are not number two in Ohio, they are not number two in Pennsylvania, and they do not intend on being number two here.”

Helen Hanna Casey, president of the Howard Hanna Company, said the transition to the Howard Hanna company should be seamless for customers at Surovell.

“They’re going to get a new sign in front of their house,” she said.

“But they only want one thing from us. They want us to sell their home, or they want us to find them a home, and they want us to do that as quickly and as easily as possible.”


A for sale sign post for the Howard Hanna realty company outside a home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio in 2009. Hoddy Hanna quipped the company had changed their colors from "green and yellow" to "green and maize"

Amy Sancetta | AP Photo

Casey said the company is planning an advertising blitz that will begin with television commercials airing as soon as Wednesday evening, and that will cut across multiple forms of media.

“We are really into multigenerational marketing,” she said.

“We do everything from news print right straight through to Facebook, Pinterest, the many multitude of social networks out there.”

Current chairman and CEO Howard “Hoddy” Hanna said the timing of the deal was appealing to him because of the current growth trends in Michigan’s economy. For Surovell, the impetus to make a deal now came down to a choice of outlaying large sums of money to stay competitive, or to merge for the same advantages.

“[It was] partly opportunity and partly necessity,” he said.

“…We needed more tools than we had at the moment so we could either choose to invest heavily and develop them ourselves or, frankly, we could merge into them. One can be done overnight, one takes years.”

Hoddy Hanna’s son Howard “Hoby” Hanna said that the company is looking to open or acquire another one to two offices in Michigan by the end of the year, including potentially opening multiple new offices in Ann Arbor.

“As we look to grow we’ll be looking to open new offices, hire more people, not only in Ann Arbor but across Michigan,” he said.

“We’re also going to be bringing our mortgage and title businesses here, so we’re looking to be a growth engine in the economy in our small way here in Michigan.”

Home sales in Washtenaw County totaled 2,281 units by the end of August, compared to 2,124 at the same time in 2011. The sales volume totaled $480 million, compared to $410 million, according to the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors. Days on market year-to-date were 72, compared to 81 in 2011.


Howard "Hoddy" Hanna speaks at the press conference Wednesday at the Dahlmann Campus Inn.

Courtney Sacco |

The mortgage and insurance operations for the company will be operating in Michigan by early January 2013.

Surovell operates 10 offices with about 200 employees across Southeast Michigan. Ed Surovell said that the company made sales every year in at least 13 counties.

Including those offices, Howard Hanna will have a combined 4,700 employees and 144 offices across Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and West Virginia. This is not the first merger for either company. Hoddy Hanna said his company had been through 42 mergers and acquisitions in the last 20 years, while Surovell has been a part of 15 such transactions.

Surovell said that the close relationship between himself and the Hanna family allowed for a more peaceful merger process than usually occurs. At the press conference held Wednesday, no one could remember who approached whom about the merger.

“Most of the time it’s either a direct phone call from us, ‘are you interested in selling your business?’ or there’s someone knocking on the front door saying ‘I surrender!’” Surrovel said.

“That’s called a walkover. But we have known each other and been very close for a long time.”

In addition to becoming a player in the local real estate market, Hoddy Hanna said the company also plans to contribute to local community non-profits.

“Ed’s been very much involved in the community but we will double that effort of giving back to the community through our foundation,” he said.

Surovell added that the commitments to the University Musical Society and other performance groups across the Southeast Michigan region will still be a priority for the group.

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Audion Man

Fri, Oct 19, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

*rolls eyes* Best coverage money can buy. The Howard Hanna ads splattered across the main page should probably be blinking.


Fri, Oct 19, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

I used HH to sell my house in Pittsburgh. Top notch organization. Best of luck.

Audion Man

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

It is sorta stomach turning to see huge ads for Howard Hanna, suddenly festooned all over this site. Somethin' just ain't right.

Ben Freed

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Audion, As the person who covered the event and wrote the story, I can assure you that I had no prior knowledge as to Howard Hanna's plans to advertise on our website. This was a major event in the local real estate community and deserved to be covered by Ben


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

local merging merging = not local anymore.just one of the many dogs in the pen.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Good for Ed. He's given so much to the community, both publicly and quietly behind the scenes. Sounds like a good move. He was the one that got the city to allow real estate signs in the first place, though, so I hate to see his name disappear from the signs.

Ben Freed

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

That's right! In the press conference, Ed mentioned that he led the charge to allow real estate signs to appear in front of houses after they were prohibited for 34 years. In his words, "I'm proud to say the city caved... It is with a good deal of pride for us that there will be Howard Hanna signs where Surovell signs were, as a pioneer in the defense of the First Amendment and free speech!"


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

I'm glad to here that the Surovell employees will retain there jobs. They're an excellent group of people!


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Correction, you meant 'hear'.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

Correction, I meant 'their jobs'


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 10:41 a.m.

Let's make this a Win - Win , that I'm sure is what it will be. Why all the negative thoughts? Ed Surovell has built a wonderful company for our community, he has obviously chosen to move on to other things like maybe a retirement he deserves. Welcome Hanna, and Congratulation to Ed Surovell, big is not necessary Bad, it brings certain efficiencies in most cases. There are not contracting they are expanding.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

Best wishes to Ed Surovell in this transition. He is a fixture in our community, one of the relatively few Realtors who is also a longtime Democrat, and a person who has had a long-time commitment to civic life. (I recall that as a member of the Planning Commission, he was instrumental in having soft drinks placed in the meeting room refrigerator. Correct me if this is apocryphal.)


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 10:43 a.m.

I didn't know he was a DemocRAT? Oh well they should retire also.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

This was a good deal for Surovell. He's been loosing market share for a while now. But, I don't know if having Howard Hanna Company replacing the names on signs are going to help sales. It all comes down the Realtor and how hard he/she is working for their client. That's why I always laughed when Rienhart says how important having a local company sell your house. Buyer's don't care what company is selling a house! They just want a good deal! That is where the Realtor comes in, not the company.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

If the Howard Hanna signs are anything like the obnoxious ads on the front page on both sides of, not sure if it will help sales...unless maybe you are a Packer fan.


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

So whoe's number one, two, and three.

Ben Freed

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

John, the rankings are done by Real Trends, a national real estate consulting and communications company. According to them, Hanna ranks fourth when measured in sides closed behind: 1. NRT, LLC -- Parsippanny, NJ 2. HomeServices of America -- Minneapolis, MN 3. The Long & Foster Companies, Inc. -- Chantilly, VA Hanna also ranks 7th nationally when the rankings are measured by volume of sales.

Jack Campbell

Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

At least Reinhart is still local, and better than Surovell.

Morris Thorpe

Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

Fewer choices = bad news for consumers. The internet has made so many antiquated, overpriced services obsolete, I'm baffled at how realtors remain relevant.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Hey Morris...I am sure you ate baffled. Real Estate is like anything else..if you do not do it for a don't know how to do it. Looks easy from the outside looking in. There is a reason why a very large % of agents do not make it to their 5th anniversary.


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

Let's hear it for national homogenization ...ugh.