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Howard Hanna acquires Morgan-Collins

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Andy Collins, left, and Howard
Andy Collins, left, and Howard "Hoddy" Hanna III. - (Photo / )

Pittsburgh-based Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the top real estate company in Pennsylvania and Ohio, has cashed in on its promise to expand its Central Pennsylvania footprint.

And it's doing so in a big way.

The company today announced the acquisition of Spring Garden Township-based Morgan-Collins Inc., one of the largest real estate firms in York County.

"It was always the right company," CEO Howard "Hoddy" Hanna III said of Morgan-Collins and his company's effort to grow its midstate presence.

Howard Hanna has been looking to expand into Lancaster and York counties. It has five offices in Cumberland and Dauphin counties. Those offices closed 741 transactions valued at $136.9 million in 2012.

Morgan-Collins closed about 1,200 transactions last year.

"It's a real good company," Hanna said.

Talks occurred for about a year, he said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Hanna said his company was paying between six and seven times EBITDA. EBITDA stands for earnings before the deduction of interest expenses, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The York County company's 2011 revenue was about $4.5 million, according to Business Journal records. That is the latest data available.

Morgan-Collins owner and broker Andy Collins will remain with the company as senior vice president and associate broker.

The Morgan family started the company in the late 1940s and sold it in 1990 to Collins.

"It was important to Joe and Jim Morgan that the firm remain a family-owned business," Collins said in a statement. "And I'm carrying on that tradition. The family-owned Hanna company is the perfect fit for my agents and our clients. I am looking forward to being able to provide all the extras a big firm offers while still offering that personal touch."

Howard Hanna also will retain the firm's 55 to 60 employees, Hanna said, plus it plans to add 15 people.

Hanna said he plans to add two more offices, which would bring the Morgan-Collins footprint to four offices. Morgan-Collins also has an office in the Shrewsbury area.

Hanna is scouting Adams County and northern Maryland for new locations. Each would be full-service locations by 2014 with the addition of mortgage, title and insurance services.

Part of Howard Hanna's $250 million expansion plan, announced earlier this year, includes moving into Maryland and other major markets along the East Coast. Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are known targets.

In addition to Ohio and Pennsylvania, Howard Hanna also operates in Michigan, New York and West Virginia, where it has 150 offices.

Lancaster County could be in the mix for next year, Hanna added: "We're very aggressive and energetic about that whole part of the state. We need a presence (in Lancaster County)."

That could mean another acquisition or an office developed via organic means.

With the acquisition, Howard Hanna is on track to hit $8 billion in closed-sale volume this year. It is the fourth-largest real estate company in the country.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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