In September, Jim Rosewater ‘83 was appointed the CEO of Arthur Rutenburg Homes, the nation’s largest franchisor of custom homebuilders. Jim previously served as Chief Operating Officer for the company and led the company’s evolution from an entrepreneur-owned company in a single state with a single product line to a growing enterprise operating in 10 states.
In this interview, Jim speaks about his educational and career journey, advice for future Charger graduates, and how Shorecrest faculty impacted his academic development and personal growth.
In what ways has your Shorecrest experience had an impact on your career and who you are today?
My guidance counselor, Ruth Innes recommended I investigate the University of Miami based on what she knew about me and my career interests. It turned out her advice was spot on and it set me on a life course that has led to where I am today. UM was not on my radar until that meeting with Ruth, so the impact of her guidance has been significant. And, I’m glad to say I’m Facebook friends with Ruth today. I should also comment that I continue to maintain close friendships with many classmates from Shorecrest. These lifelong friendships are profound.
Share a little about your education post-Shorecrest and your career path.
I attended the University of Miami and studied English, Creative Writing, Advertising and Marketing. I really wanted to be a writer, but figured I’d be better off channeling my creativity into business, which is where advertising came in. I started my career working in the advertising industry and eventually became the Director of Marketing for an International Franchise Company, then a homebuilding company. And, then I fell in love with the homebuilding industry and eventually became a partner in a company in Southeast Florida. We built single family homes, townhomes, and eventually mid and high rise condos. During the recession, I wanted to focus back on single family homes and that’s when I connected with Arthur Rutenberg, the founder of Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Inc., a franchisor of custom homebuilders. This moved me to Charlotte, NC, where I lived for 10 ½ years. I’m now back in Tampa and working in Clearwater.
Describe your current company, position and your responsibilities.
We franchise custom homebuilders and help them operate at higher levels than they typically could on their own. We do this by providing a myriad of tools and resources that small independent builders can’t usually afford. These include collections of home designs, customization of plans through architectural services, software, national purchasing programs, marketing, etc. I am CEO of the company and am responsible for operating the day to day business. I’ve been with the company for 11 years and was previously in the roles of COO, Group President, and Region Vice President. When I joined, we operated only in Florida and I am proud to have been a big part in our expansion into the 10 states in which we currently operate.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I love what I do. A custom home is typically the most expensive purchase a family will make in their lifetime and we help make their dream homes reality. I enjoy helping facilitate this process.
What is one of your favorite things about your job? What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Working with an incredible team of talented people and helping them perform at a higher level. Also, driving our team to achieve excellence in everything we do. Our product is truly outstanding and I enjoy being part of the creative process of determining what will turn on home buyers, and then delivering it.
Do you have a favorite memory or event from your time at Shorecrest?
I don’t have a favorite specific memory, other than really enjoying the group of friends I had. Back then I was more interested in my social life than academics, and I spent hours talking about and listening to music and going to rock concerts with some awesome friends. In fact, not that long ago I had dinner with Gary Rudolph ‘83 in Charlotte, NC, and Rob Johnson ‘83 in Tampa.
What advice would you give to the graduating class of Chargers?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and go out of your comfort zone. You never know where opportunities will take you, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of them when they come along. Also, if you ever get into management be sure to surround yourself with the most talented and smartest people you can find, even if they’re better than you. Building a great team is how you succeed in business.