Shorewest Realtors Celebrates 75 Years in Business

The company traces its history back to a home office in 1946.

In 1946, John A. Horning, a Milwaukee-area Realtor started his own business, Wauwatosa Realty, out of his house. The business took off right away – in his first year he sold $500,000 worth of homes to 40 families. To put that in perspective, homes in 1946 went for an average of $12,500. The business quickly outgrew the makeshift digs, and seven months into his first year, Horning opened an office on Harwood Avenue.

By 1951, Wauwatosa Realty was selling more homes than any other firm in the state.  Horning passed the business on to John E. Horning, his son, and Donald Horning, his nephew. They continued to grow the company and opened multiple offices across the wider metro Milwaukee area. As they pushed further outward, the “Wauwatosa Realty” name no longer applied, so they rebranded to “Shorewest Realtors.”

To make the name-change stick, the Hornings worked with a local ad agency to create a television commercial. The ad opens on a young man getting a new album in the mail: “U 2 Can Yodel.” He blasts the high-pitched, howling yodeler over his giant speaker system. It then cuts to his frustrated and distressed neighbor with tissues in his ears: “Want to sell your home fast? No one, including those national realty companies, offers as many resources to help sell homes as Shorewest Realtors”




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“It was out there compared to anything we’ve ever done,” said Joseph Horning, Shorewest’s current president in a press release. “My dad and Uncle Don took the chance, and it really paid off. People today still talk about the yodeler.”

Joseph and his brother John P. Horning, who took over in 2002, are the third generation of Hornings leading Shorewest. The company has expanded drastically since the days of their grandfather operating out of his home. Now entering its 75th year in business, Shorewest has served nearly 400,000 families and has remained independently owned. 

“The real estate industry continues to evolve, and we know we need to evolve with it,” Joseph said. “We didn’t get where we are at today by staying complacent. Our goal is to continue to grow and be the real estate resource people trust for their home buying and selling needs.”



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.