By: Bob Ehler

2018 is a monumental year for us at Vanguard. It was 50 years ago this year that Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. was founded. Originally incorporated as Midwest Appraisals, Inc. in 1968, our name was changed to Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. (This was because Bob and Bill were contacted by a company from Colorado already doing business under this name. They chose to change the name to avoid any possible legal ramifications). We will be celebrating this milestone throughout the year as we host our many User Group Meetings and attend our many conferences.

Vanguard was founded by Willard (Bill) Stewart and Robert (Bob) Dungan. The first office staff consisted of their wives, Mavis and Sally. For four years, Vanguard operated out of a small office located in the Town and Country shopping center in Cedar Rapids, which also happens to be the first shopping center ever built in Iowa. In 1972, Vanguard moved to its new home at 1500 2nd Ave, SE which was home until the spring of 2011. During our 39 year tenure on 2nd Ave we experienced numerous expansions. Starting out with a small office of a few hundred square foot on the 2nd floor of the building and expanding to nearly 7000 SF on the 3rd floor before our departure. In June of 2011, we moved to our current home on Sierra Court.

Vanguard had a good start throughout the 1970’s thanks to some large projects such as Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Sioux Falls, SD, etc. However, a sluggish economy fueled by high interest rates in the early 1980’s proved difficult as County government limited expenditures. Vanguard survived these lean times and things began to improve in the mid-1980’s. In 1987, Bob Kocer took the reigns as president of Vanguard. Dave Siefkas was hired to begin development of what is now known as CAMAvision. Since this time we have never looked back!

Since the early 1980’s we have grown from a small Mass Appraisal Company, with a staff of about 10 employees that worked mainly in the state of Iowa, into what we are today a staff of 70+ strong that appraises over 40,000 properties annually and service, over 300 clients on our flagship CAMAvision software in seven states.

I thank all Vanguard employees, past and present, who have contributed to this success.

A lot has changed since the founding of Vanguard in 1968. I thought it might be interesting to look back as to what things were like back in 1968:

  • Dow Jones Industrial average closed the year at 943 Average cost of a new house was $14,950.00 Average income per year was $7,850.00
  • Average monthly rent was $130.00
  • Gas per gallon was 34 cents
  • Average cost of a new car was $2,822.00
  • Movie tickets cost $1.50

Besides the founding of Vanguard, there were many other milestones that occurred in 1968. Both, good and bad:

  • April 4th – Martin Luther King was assassinated
  • April 17th – The debut of a new baseball franchise, the Oakland Athletics
  • June 5th – Senator Robert “Bobby” Kennedy was assassinated
  • July 20th – The Special Olympics was formed and held for the first time
  • September 30th – Boeing introduces the first 747 “Jumbo Jet”
  • October 25th – Midwest Appraisals (later changed to Vanguard Appraisals) is incorporated
  • November 22nd – Star Trek airs American televisions first interracial kiss (Captain Kirk kisses Lt. Nyota Uhura) November 22nd – Beatles release the “White Album”
  • December 24th – Apollo 8 is the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon

It is now up to us to lay the foundation for Vanguards next 50 years!

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