ADDRESS: 360 NW Tyler Ave, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Gary Rodgers
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 29
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 11
WHAT THEY SELL: Real estate services (sales, property management, publisher of Homes By Owner Guide)
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: For personalized, affordable real estate services
Gary Rodgers has created a one-of-a-kind business in the Mid-Willamette Valley, and his enthusiasm for his work is contagious. Gary is committed to more than helping people buy or sell their homes; he clearly wants to make sure that the buying or selling process is as positive and pain-free for his clients as possible. Supporting people through this major life transition is what Northwest Realty Consultants is all about.
When and why did you decide to start your business? I started being a real estate agent in 1978, and I founded Northwest Realty Consultants in 1984. I have a degree from OSU in Business Administration. My majors were Marketing and Management, with minors in Psychology and Communications. My focus is people. I realized that people who wanted to do “For Sale by Owner” needed help. So I decided to start a business to help fill that need. Also, at the time, there were no services for buyers. We were the first office in the mid-valley to offer services for home buyers.
Tell us more about your services. What are your favorites? A lot of what we do is consulting. We help people with as much or as little of the sale of their homes or properties as they want. For example, we might meet with someone for an hour to discuss if an idea they have to buy or develop a property is a good idea. For a lot of our clients, we help them sell, where they help with the sale process by running their own ads, hosting open houses, etc. We offer hourly fees, commission fees, and flat fees.
The part of the business I like most is when somebody comes to me and they want me to analyze their situation. For example, a couple came to me and wanted me to look at a home they were really interested in, but I talked them out of it because I could see it wasn’t a good fit for them. They paid an hourly fee. I like that I’m figuring out what’s best for the customer. I like the things that are really hard. Some agents turn away certain kinds of jobs, but I like challenges. My job is helping people get where they want to go in the least painful, most fun way.
I’m also really interested in helping the children of my clients—how are the children dealing with being transplanted out of their old circle of friends and into their new community? I deal with the whole family. I’ve never seen any classes for real estate agents on how to help the children make the transition. I’m really drawn to the psychology of selling. We get very plugged into our clients’ lives for two to six months. I really get to know my clients well, and I enjoy that.
Does your business fill an unusual niche? We are the only realty company around that offers these services. We end up having clients from all over the state; people seek us out. We have a market niche that’s quite different from other companies. Since 1984, we’ve helped over 12,000 people buy and sell their homes.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? Big companies have come in to Corvallis, but they haven’t felt like competition because we don’t compete with them. Our services are different. When I started this company, I did a survey of over 100 people and asked, “What services do you want from a real estate company?” Most didn’t understand what was possible for Realtors. Back then, buyer agency was uncommon; people were only representing the sellers. I’m quite busy. I’ve had way more benefits than challenges from being an independent local business owner.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis, and what does the future look like for the local independents? There are fewer people willing to step out on their own, starting their own businesses, and I find that disappointing. The impact of local independents is huge right now, but it’s going to be less and less percentage-wise unless people moving into the community appreciate the services and products that the independents are offering. It’s a challenge to get them to see the value of the independents unless the independent is unusual.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? I like the freedom of decision-making that comes with owning an independent company. No one is overseeing my decisions. I don’t need to go up a level or five to get decisions made. We can be very responsive to unusual requests.
What is your relationship to the community? I belong to CIBA and the DCA. I have always worked in Downtown Corvallis. I really like the downtown. Also, I really like helping organizations that are oriented toward kids and seniors.
For me, there have been three highlights to my community involvement: being president of the Corvallis Jaycees, being in charge of the remodeling of the Avery House in Avery Park, and receiving the Jr. First Citizen’s Award for Corvallis.
I feel like I’m in a wonderful community. This week, we’ve had at least one person every day come in and say, “I want to know what you do.” The people in Corvallis have a mindset that fits our business.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? We have a solar array on the roof that’s been there for six years, and our solar meter shows how many Kilowatts we’ve saved since we’ve had solar. To support transportation options, we have an electric charging station that was installed in 1999, and we have a covered bike rack on the front porch.
Every desk has recycling bins, and we have a composting/yard waste cart. Our trash pickup is every other week, since we don’t generate much waste.
This is a new building, and when we deconstructed the old house that used to be here, I coordinated efforts to reuse as many materials as possible. We got help from the Benton County Historical Society, matching materials with people interested in having them. I’d say that 60 to 65% of what was here got reused either in Corvallis or Philomath. Several pieces went to the house at Midway Farms. Also, the Fire Department cut through the roof of the old house and did some practice on the building. There were only three dumpsters full when the house was finally taken down.
Parts of the old building are integrated into the new building, such as the bricks on the front porch. We have a lot of natural lighting in the office, and the windows can be opened. We rarely use air conditioning.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. We offer “listed” and “by owner” services for buyers and sellers that are customized to your needs.
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – September 30, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).