Company founder Herman Walldorf and sons Charlie and Rudy each has served as Chattanooga Association of Realtors president and were picked as "Realtor of the year" by the business group.

Herman Walldorf & Co., Inc., Chattanooga's oldest family name in the real estate business dating back to 1926, has split into separate residential and commercial companies.

Herman Walldorf Commercial is focusing on that business segment.

Herman Walldorf & Co. Inc., doing business as Herman Walldorf Residential, is now offering those services exclusively.

The founder's sons, both long involved in the 85-year-old original business, are each heading up the individual corporations, they said.

"The real estate business has become more specialized," said Rudy Walldorf, who is overseeing the commercial company, about the change.

Charlie Walldorf, who is heading the residential company with son Nathan, said the old structure became inadequate as the market increased in sophistication.

"The need for the split become more apparent," he said.

They termed the division "most amicable" and said both businesses will continue to operate at 109 E. Eighth St.

The brothers cited their father's entrepreneurial bent as the reason for the start-up of the business in the mid-1920s.

Originally operating in what's now the SunTrust Bank building on Market Street, the real estate venture moved to its existing site in the 1950s, they said. Both worked at the business during high school and then joined it full-time after college - Charlie, now age 67, graduating from Tulane University and Rudy, 71, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Each already had specialized in their separate segments for decades, they said.

"They're just totally different," said Rudy Walldorf. "In commercial, the buyer and seller generally are a little more sophisticated."

Charlie Walldorf said the residential side has changed over the years from using a single-page contract to what's now a 2-inch pile of documents. His company has seven brokers, while his brother's has five.

Charlie Walldorf said Volkswagen and other recent major additions to the Chattanooga area have brought in a clientele that requires more specialization.

"The level of specialization requires specific strategies that are different for residential and commercial real estate companies," he said.

The two said the Chattanooga market offers a lot of potential as the nation emerges from the deep recession.

"The last six to eight months, there's been more activity," said Rudy Walldorf.