Wells Fargo Financial
Richard S. (Dick) Levitt is largely responsible for the strength and presence of Wells Fargo Financial Company in Greater Des Moines today. His grandfather, Jacob Levitt, founded the State Loan Company, later State Finance Company, in 1897. With the help of his son Ellis and other family members, Jacob grew the business through some of the most challenging economic times in U.S. history. Richard Levitt was originally hired as a young boy to count paperclips and perform other small tasks, but he officially joined the company in 1954 as Assistant General Counsel upon his graduation from the University of Iowa Law School. He advanced over the years, becoming President in 1972 and Chairman and CEO in 1979.
During his tenure, the company evolved from State Finance Company to Dial Finance, and then - under Dick’s direction and guidance - it merged with Northwest Bancorporation in 1982 to become Norwest Financial. Dick’s Vice-Chair position with the new parent company, Norwest Corporation, found him based in Minneapolis for a time, but he kept Norwest Financial firmly planted in downtown Des Moines. Charged in 1984 with rebuilding the company’s home mortgage unit, he decided to move that business line to Des Moines as well. His leadership was marked by a company culture that encouraged openness at all levels, and by his own ability to listen intently to the ideas and opinions of others before reaching decisions.
Levitt retired from the company in 1987. Norwest Corporation merged with Wells Fargo Company in 1998 and adopted the historic Wells Fargo name, and today the Levitt’s family business is one of the largest financial services companies in Iowa. Dick Levitt continues to manage his real estate investment company, Nellis Corporation, and is active an a variety of boards including the Des Moines Art Center, the University of Iowa Foundation, the American Federation of Arts in New York City, the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., and many others.