J.P. Weigand & Sons, now largest of its kind in Kansas, began in 1902 with one man

04/17/2014 6:53 AM

08/06/2014 10:56 AM

J.P. Weigand & Sons may technically be a small business, but the real estate company is the largest of its kind in the state.

There are 37 full-time employees and another almost 300 independent contractors.

It all started in 1902 with one man, though: John Patrick Weigand.

“J.P. Weigand came here from Joliet, Illinois, in a covered wagon and was a map salesman for Rand McNally,” said his grandson, Nestor Weigand Jr.

He said his grandfather “got here and decided he could do better selling real estate than maps.”

There was no license required to sell real estate at the time.

“If you wanted to go in the business, you just went in,” Weigand said.

His grandfather had a small office on the fifth floor of the Bitting Building at Market and Douglas.

“He did that so he could look out and see the trains coming in and the wagons coming in,” Weigand said. “It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?”

His father, Nestor Weigand Sr., joined the company in the late 1920s, and his grandfather changed the name from his name to J.P. Weigand & Son.

Then the eldest Weigand’s other son, Jean Paul, came into the business, and it became known by the name it has today.

The company has handled commercial and residential real estate from the beginning.

“When he started, it was whatever it was,” Weigand said.

When Nestor Weigand Jr.’s brother, Mike, joined the company in 1956, there were five residential salesmen. Mike Weigand, who died in March, sold homes initially and then joined his father selling commercial real estate.

Nestor Weigand joined in 1961 to do residential sales.

“I didn’t even have an office,” he said. He had to use a conference room.

“When somebody used it, I would have to leave and sit at a secretary’s desk.”

He sold his first house after 22 showings – to the same man. He made $300 on the $10,000 deal.

Weigand said his father taught him that honesty and integrity should be the hallmarks of the company.

“It isn’t the volume that’s important to me,” he said his father would say. “It’s the way in which the transaction was handled.”

Weigand said there were no particularly huge growth spurts of either division.

“It was just kind of a continuation,” he said of building business.

The company’s headquarters has always been within a block of where it started. Today, it’s at 150 N. Market.

“In the early ’70s, we broke out and expanded the residential division to move east and west,” Weigand said of branch offices.

The residential side has more sales associates and a larger volume of sales. It mainly focuses on Wichita and the surrounding areas.

Commercial deals, though, happen around Kansas and beyond.

The firm has an affiliate company, Weigand-Omega Management, to manage multifamily properties, office buildings, warehouses and shopping centers.

Weigand oversees the company as CEO, and he said his list of what he’d like to accomplish is still a long one.

“More than I can even imagine.”

He said his grandfather and father would be stunned to see the company today.

“They’d probably say, ‘I don’t want to run it,’” Weigand said.

He said there are “too many dangling participles and too many legs.”

“It’s just a whole different paradigm from where it used to be.”

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