Celebrating 20 Years as an AR Homes® Franchisee in Panama City, Florida

Arthur Rutenberg and Brian Baber

Becoming a Franchisee

Brian Baber first encountered a home built by Arthur Rutenberg during the Parade of Homes over 20 years ago. The Parade of Homes is an annual event put on in Tampa Bay which showcases model homes throughout the region for home buyers, real estate professionals and those interested in home trends to tour the latest and greatest in the market.

Brian recalls this experience, saying “I remember everything in the home being so well put together, from the details inside to the outdoor living space that surrounded the pool. As we toured, I leaned over to my wife, Jessica, and said ‘In ten years, this is the kind of home I want to be building.’”

At a young age, Brian was introduced to construction, spending time working on remodeling homes his dad was purchasing as rentals. Brian always knew he wanted to build homes and wasted no time getting to know Art Rutenberg, who started his career in the home building industry in 1953.

Shortly after seeing Art’s homes in the Parade of Homes, Brian and his wife had dinner at her cousin’s house, a home that just so happened to be built by Arthur Rutenberg. They began to discuss Brian’s interest in Art’s craftsmanship when they discovered her cousin knew Art well and was able to set up an introductory meeting for Brian and Art within the next week.

Brian remembers walking into Art’s office and seeing a map of Florida displayed on his office wall with pins marking each franchise location. He noticed there wasn’t a pin in the Panama City area, where he had planned to move to start his own home building business.

Following the impressive initial meeting, Brian invited his dad to Tampa to meet with Art. After some deliberation about their future home building company, they found themselves opening a franchise for Bay and Walton County, Florida.

A Part of Art’s Legacy

With dreams of opening his own homebuilding business, Brian had never planned to become a franchise builder, until he met with Art and began to understand Art’s commitment to quality, innovation, and superior home design. “I’d always pictured myself with a business with my name on the door. And then I started to tour homes with Arthur Rutenberg on the door and I thought to myself, ‘This takes it to a whole new level.’ If his name is on the door, it will inspire me to build at the highest level.’” Art’s level of integrity and craftsmanship encouraged Brian to rise to his level of exceeding expectations.

It’s been 20 years since Brian began building AR Homes® designs in the Panama City market and he’s learned a lot along the way. He attributes Art’s willingness to be a sounding board and mentor to much of his success. In the housing crash in the 2000s, Brian recalls worrying about his building company, with so many builders having to abandon their business. Concerned about his own business, Brian turned to Art for encouragement and best practices. Recalling this experience, Brian says “I took his advice. He always spoke with such wisdom, and I would always write down notes when I spoke with him. He taught me how to speak the customers language and address their concerns.” Brian attributes this mentorship and the offerings of the AR Homes® franchise system to the success of his company.

The AR Homes® Difference

Art began homebuilding in 1953 and made his mark in the industry as a true pioneer. His dedication to quality, innovation, transparent pricing and craftsmanship serve as the foundation of AR Homes® as we know it today. His legacy continues to inspire builders, like Brian Baber, to follow in his footsteps and find success as they build dream homes for people throughout the nation.

Brian Baber opened his AR Homes® franchise 20 years ago and is still building in the Panama City market. “Our company is successful because we operate our business just like Art operated his. We’re surrounded by good people, who really care and that drives our success.” Reflecting on Art’s legacy, Brian mentions his mantra; “One of the things I always say is, if we treat our customers and our team the way Art and his team have treated me, our business and our customers will be in good shape.”

To learn more about building with Brian and the AR Homes® team in Panama City, call 850-265-6047.