The year 2011 marks the 40th Anniversary of a real estate organization that has helped Southwest Riverside County and The Inland Empire develop into leading economic forces in the Southern California region.
Rancon Real Estate and the Rancon Group were founded in Temecula in 1971, and both have developed a legacy of building relationships and building communities.
Rancon Founder Dan Stephenson came to the Temecula Valley in the 1960s and immediately realized the potential for the area. He started Rancon Consultants, later shortened to Rancon, because the real estate brokerage he was with at the time could not, or would not, do the kind of land development he envisioned.
“I had been in the banking business in Orange County and then went to work for a large real estate company, and in both jobs I got a feel for real estate development,” says Stephenson. “The problem was that I wanted to move faster and be more flexible to respond to opportunities in the market; and the general corporate business structure at the time was not able to do that.”
The result was the formation of Rancon, a hybrid real estate company that combined brokerage activities, development, asset management, and investment vehicles under one umbrella. Stephenson gathered experts in each of the areas and applied this agile and effective approach to buying, selling and developing real properties located primarily in Southwest Riverside County.
Through the years Rancon evolved with market trends. In the 1970s, Rancon Real Estate became a stand-alone company that specialized in land transactions. In the 1980s Rancon Real Estate established its place in residential transactions. The development side of the Rancon equation embarked on a parallel course; first developing larger parcels of land into estate subdivisions such as La Cresta, and later moving into large master-planned residential communities such as Alta Murrieta.
Both Rancon Real Estate and Rancon’s development group also played a role in the commercial side of development in Southwest Riverside County building and brokering some of the area’s first shopping centers (Winchester Square), office buildings (Rancon Plaza and Rancon Corporate Center) and industrial parks ((D&D Industrial Park).
“We’ve always made a concerted effort to follow, anticipate, and capitalize on market trends,” says Stephenson. “We started in the Temecula Valley creating and selling estate properties for what was known as the ‘gentleman farmer’ set. These were often newly-retired people from urban areas looking for a rural lifestyle. Eventually the demographic evolved into younger families who were either move-up home buyers, or first-time homebuyers, both of whom wanted to take advantage of lower new-home prices as compared to Los Angeles, Orange of San Diego counties.”
By the mid-1980s, Rancon’s development wing started expanding into a wider area known as The Inland Empire. This two-county (San Bernardino and Riverside) area began growing rapidly, especially along the I-10 “goods movement” Corridor. At the same time, Rancon Financial Corporation was formed as sponsor and general partner for several large limited liability partnerships (LLPs). These partnerships built some of the first Class A office buildings along the I-10 Corridor (Civic Centers I & II in Ontario), and the “IE’s” first master-planned, mixed use, business park (Tri-City Corporate Centre).
Through the up-and-down 1990s, Rancon Real Estate, and the slimmed down Rancon development wing (Rancon Group), expanded and contracted with the market. The Rancon Group was successful in acquiring some large parcels of land from the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) in the mid ‘90s. One of those properties was developed into a largely successful community known as Sycamore Creek. By the latter half of the decade the Rancon Group began actively seeking new residential properties for an anticipated housing boom.
“I think we’ve shown remarkable resilience over the years and I attribute that to our flexible business structure and to the extremely talented people I work with,” says Stephenson. “The heart and soul of this organization are people who love what they do, and they do it very well.”
The unique Rancon Group equation has worked well for more than 40 years. Since 1971, the Rancon Group has developed more than 25,000 acres of residential properties, almost 3 million square feet of retail/commercial space, more than 7 million square feet of industrial space, and 1.4 million square feet of office space, all within the Inland Empire of Southern California.
Today, the Rancon Group is focused on acquiring and developing properties for the next upswing in real estate market. Rancon Group partnerships currently own or control more than 2,000 single-family and multi-family, lots in Southwest Riverside County, which is poised for future development. In addition, Rancon is developing several estate residential and commercial projects (Europa Village, and Europa Village Estates) in Temecula’s Wine Country.
“I am certainly proud of what we have accomplished as an organization from both a bottom-line prospective, and from what we achieved in building on-going relationships with the communities and organizations we interact with,” says Stephenson. “Forty years is a significant feat for any business, but I think the best is still yet to come.”