Rod Stewart got into the commercial real estate business in 1972.
His first deal as a commercial Realtor netted him a $19 commission on a 600-square-foot office lease.
His commissions and size of deals have grown substantially in the more than four decades he’s been in the business. He was recently named managing director of the commercial division of Keller Williams Signature Partners.
But real estate wasn’t his first career choice. Stewart got into the business after deciding working as a membership division manager for what would become the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce wasn’t for him.
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“I had 2,700 bosses,” he said of Chamber members who he said thought they were his boss. “I got tired of that. I wanted to be my own boss.”
Stewart, who was born in Newton and moved to Wichita in 1956, said he never considered following his father’s career, which was selling life insurance — successfully, he added.
“I didn’t like it,” he said. “I preferred more tangible things.”
He said he had tested well on a business aptitude test at Wichita State University for real estate, so that’s where he aimed his professional goals.
“I didn’t know anything about houses or residential real estate, but working for the Chamber I knew a lot of business people,” Stewart said.
He found mentors in commercial real estate brokers Colby Sandlian and the late Jack Hunt, who cemented his career in the business.
“They taught me everything I know,” Stewart said. “I worked for Colby for 13 years … and I worked for Jack for 35 years. I still do work with Colby, someone whose friendship I prize.”
Earlier this year, the National Association of Realtors awarded Stewart “Realtor emeritus” status, for his more than 40 years as a Realtor. The emeritus status also serves to free the Realtor from paying annual dues as long as he or she maintains their real estate license.
Q. What does being named Realtor emeritus mean to you personally?
A. A long and mostly happy career that I am still able to pursue.
Q. Why have you been in the business for so long?
A. I love the business, the creativity, the problem-solving, making things happen, growing my city, helping people.
Q. What do you mean by creativity?
A. Every property is different. They are all unique. Each of them have a different back story and they have different challenges Finding the right solution (to buy or sell each property) is the creativity part of it, finding a solution that didn’t exist previously.
Q. How would you characterize the current commercial real estate environment locally?
A. Interesting. Challenging. Careful. A great deal of work. Full of opportunity.
Q. What advice would you give to a young person considering a commercial real estate career?
A. First is find a great mentor. Second is never quit pursuing the education (in real estate) And third is to work constantly on lead generation.