Address: 2115 John F. Kennedy Road in Dubuque
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
When Bob Neuwoehner and Jim Curoe founded American Realty Inc. in 1972 in Dubuque, their first office was in Curoe’s kitchen.
The fledgling real estate company was a risky gamble by two young real estate agents who had little in the way of capital to invest but had boundless ambition.
“I didn’t have a dime to my name,” Neuwoehner said. “It definitely wasn’t easy at first.”
Within in a few days of its founding, American Realty sold its first home. In 1983, the company moved into a new office at the Inn Plaza in Dubuque. Three years later, Neuwoehner and Curoe purchased land on John F. Kennedy Road and constructed American Realty’s current headquarters.
As he reflects on the company’s past, Neuwoehner can hardly believe what American Realty has become.
The real estate business, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has its central office building in Dubuque — along with three other satellite offices — sells residential, commercial and agricultural properties; and partners with 37 independent real estate agents.
The company’s leadership has changed through the years, as well. Neuwoehner sold his ownership of the company in 2019, and Curoe did the same 11 years prior. The company founded by two men now is owned by two women.
“I think it’s great,” Neuwoehner said. “The company is in good hands.”
The change in ownership at American Realty reflects a larger trend in the real estate industry. When Neuwoehner first founded the company, real estate was largely a male-dominated field. That trend has reversed, and now, 64% of Realtors are women, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Shari Greenwood and Peggy Nesler, the new owners of American Realty, plan to continue to grow the company while following in the footsteps of the previous owners who made it a success.
“Every day, we have to make sure that we are on top of it all,” Nesler said. “It’s a tremendous business, and we will continue to grow.”
Keys to success
At American Realty, individual real estate agents operate independently — as is the case in other real estate businesses.
That arrangement often can breed aggressive competition, but Greenwood said her business always has pushed its agents to pursue mutual cooperation.
“Our office of Realtors can technically be competing with each other, but at American, we don’t really compete against each other,” she said. “We have a great team, and we work together to make everybody successful.”
Another element that sets American Realty apart is the company’s focus on education. Neuwoehner said he always has advocated for extensive training for all incoming real estate agents in order to best prepare them to succeed.
“We don’t just bring people in,” he said. “We don’t just say, ‘Good luck, you are on your own.’ We create opportunities for them and help them manage their little business within a business.”
That mentality has paid off in helping the company maintain its workforce. Greenwood said that many real estate agents contracted with American Realty remain with the business for several years, and several have retired with the company.
A focus on growth
American Realty has broadened its reach selling real estate in the tri-state area through the years, a trend that continues under Greenwood and Nesler’s leadership.
Today, the company lists and sells properties in southwest Wisconsin, northwest Illinois and northeast Iowa.
In 2012, American Realty opened a branch office in Dyersville, Iowa, allowing the business to attract agents and clients in western Dubuque County and in Delaware County.
The company opened a branch office in Cascade in 2018, further expanding American Realty’s presence in the area. A fourth office is located in Manchester, Iowa.
Neuwoehner said he hopes American Realty can remain a major real estate company in the area for another 50 years. He works at the company but knows that one day, it will have to move on without him.
Neuwoehner stressed that he feels confident in the leadership of the new owners.
For Greenwood, American Realty represents more than just a real estate company. She described it as a major contributor to the development of the local economy as it helps see through the purchase of new homes and the creation of new businesses.
“Realtors have helped this city grow as well,” she said. “We come up with ideas to market areas. Whether it is residential, commercial or ag, we are an important part to help people make things happen with their investment.”