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Allen Tate Jr., 84



Allen Tate Jr., a leading voice in Charlotte real estate and economic development for more than 60 years, died June 22, 2015 at his home. Tate was 84.

Tate was chairman and CEO of Allen Tate Companies, the firm he founded in Charlotte in 1957.

Arrangements are pending.

From our Sister Publication: Real Estate Legend Allen Tate Jr. Dies

Tate was born April 23, 1931, in Gaffney. When he was a young man, his grocer father gave him career advice: “Go to Charlotte. Go into the real estate business.”

From that bit of paternal wisdom, Tate created a company that became the No. 1 real estate company in the Carolinas, employing more than 1,400 people in 40 offices from Greenville, S.C. to Raleigh. Allen Tate Company is the No. 7 privately held, non-franchised real estate company in the U.S.

Tate started working in his father’s market when he was 10 years old, where he developed a love of sales, as well as a passion for customer service. After graduation from the University of North Carolina, Tate took his father’s advice.

Tate opened his first real estate and insurance office at 112 S. Tryon St. in Charlotte. His goal was to create a one-stop, full-service agency.

He wasn’t an immediate success. In a 2010 interview just before his induction into the N.C. Business Hall of Fame, he told the Charlotte Observer that he lost $6,000 his first year in business. “The band didn’t play and the mayor didn’t show up when I opened my doors,” Tate told a publication in 2007. “But a lot of people were moving here and pretty soon I started selling a lot of houses.”

The slow start didn’t stop him. He matched dedication to his business with a zeal for civic involvement, working as president of the Jaycees, chairman of the Charlotte Chamber and chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission.

In 1997, he continued his service to the profession in creating Reliance Relocation Services, which later became Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, the country’s largest network of independent real estate companies.

His contributions to the community, via service to boards and organizations, were numerous and diverse. One of his most passionate projects in recent years was his work as chairman of the Charlotte Chamber’s Regional Roads Committee. In March, he was honored for his transportation work when the final section of I-485 was named the H. Allen Tate Jr. Highway.

In May, the Allen Tate Tower on the main campus of Central Piedmont Community College was dedicated as a symbol of Tate’s commitment to education, and to the achievements of students and staff.

Tate’s many accomplishments and service to the community were recognized through multiple honors and awards, including Carolinas’ Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2007); Distinguished Scouting Citizen (2008); Order of the Long Leaf Pine (2008); N.C. Business Hall of Fame (2010); N.C. Housing Hall of Fame (2010); and Paul Harris Rotary Fellow (2012).

In 2010, he was honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Queens University of Charlotte.

Tate’s philosophy of a one-stop, customer-oriented agency continues to this day. “This company was founded on doing the most humanly possible for the customer,” Tate once said. “Any idea that I had, that could make the process easier, less expensive and more enjoyable for the customer, I made my priority. We pride ourselves on holding people’s hands, providing the most choices and answering every problem with the optimum solution. In other words, when a person doesn’t know who to call, they call us.”

Today, the Allen Tate Family of Companies can help customers with mortgage, insurance, relocation, home repair and improvement, as well as buying and selling a home.

In 1992, Tate hand-picked his successor when he hired 20-year real estate veteran Pat Riley, who now serves as president and chief operating officer.

“Allen Tate was my friend and mentor for more than 33 years,” Riley said. “This is a great personal loss for me but because of his vision, our company is stable. Our planning was created years ago and remains effective. Nothing will change. We will continue to do business the Allen Tate way – fiercely independent, with customer service as our highest priority. In that respect, he will always be with us.”

Tate is survived by his wife, Bessie; four children and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, in 2006.

In his own words:

“We haven’t found the lost chord. The best idea hasn’t been thought of yet, and that is a journey that never ends.”

“Find something you love to do and do it with all your heart and soul, and find different ways to do it. Put some spin on it. Give it some flavor.”