The price of gas was 36 cents per gallon, the Beatles announced their breakup, and the Super Bowl was still a fairly new event when Mel Rutherford earned his real estate license and embarked on a career that has spanned five decades and nine Presidents. Though the real estate industry has dramatically changed with the evolution of technology, the man affectionately known as “Mr. Mel” is quick to tell you that genuine, personable and attentive communication remains the most important service a Realtor can offer his clients.
“I’m a firm believer in asking people why they chose to work with me, and recently I asked a man whose house I sold that question,” said Mel, whose signs adorned with his smiling face and “Mr. Mel” logo are a common sight across Miamisburg and the greater Dayton area. “He said, ‘Well, first, I see your bald head everywhere (on the signs and ads), and most importantly, it’s this. He pointed to the table and said, ‘It’s the face-to-face conversations, keeping me informed at every step of the process.’”
“STP,” or “See The People” is Mel’s personal motto. He looks everyone he meets in their eyes, shakes their hand and is quick to engage in conversation. In an ever-changing profession where some agents move on to other careers, he is a mainstay in the real estate industry, surviving three recessions and multiple market highs and lows that saw a plethora of Realtors move on to other careers, and adapting to learn technology that became commonplace in the industry. That’s quite impressive for a self-admitted country boy from Kentucky who left Roosevelt High School to work as a truck driver in 1958 before attending night school at what was then Patterson Co-Op to earn his high school diploma while working two jobs.
“I remember my first sale. It was a home on Drill Avenue in Northridge, and I made $600,” Mel recalled. “Every deal is a learning experience. There is always something you can learn to become a better Realtor for your clients.”
Mel’s foray into the profession can be traced to 1968 when he purchased two rental properties in 1968, restored them and sold them. That hooked him on the art of buying and selling of properties. At the time, he worked for General Motors at Delco Moraine, yet he envisioned a fulfilling career in real estate.
He graduated from the Real Estate Institute of Ohio State University. A year later, he earned his real estate broker license. He opened his own firm in Centerville in 1975 and left GM in 1977. Rutherford moved his headquarters to Miamisburg in 1978, and a year later, amid a major recession, interest rates soared to as high as 20 percent.
“The attrition rate in real estate is substantial, even in a thriving market, but when there is a recession, there are few who survive,” Mel said. “I was determined to survive and build my business because real estate is all I knew, and it is what I loved. I poured myself into seminars and workshops, and learned how to become an even more proficient Realtor/appraiser and salesman.”
A longtime Miamisburg resident, Mr. Mel’s office is located at 1500 E. Central Ave. in his adopted hometown. He is fond of having coffee, and even savoring a burger at the esteemed Hamburger Wagon, with clients and colleagues.
Mel’s nickname, “Mr. Real Estate,” is well-earned through personal customer service, a commitment to being available to clients every day of the week, and an affable personality that provides clients peace of mind. With his longevity and track record of success, Mel has worked with multiple generations of families, and he has helped many of the same clients sell their homes numerous times.
Mel continued to diversify by earning his securities license in 1983 and his appraisal license in 1993. He joined RE/MAX in 1995, doubling his income his first year and eventually winning multiple sales awards. Mel was inducted into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame in 1999 and served with the organization for 20 years before returning to his independent roots.
After a long and storied tenure with RE/MAX, Mel returned to his roots with MR Real Estate in 2018.
Mel has carved a niche as an expert in the Miamisburg, West Carrollton and Germantown markets. He serves clients throughout Montgomery, Warren and Greene counties.
“I have no interest in retiring. I’m just as passionate now about real estate as I was in 1970. I love the people, and the fulfillment of seeing them buy or sell a home and move to a new chapter of their lives,” Mel said. “I don’t like sitting around. For 50 years now, I’ve worked a schedule that can range from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. – whatever it takes to make clients happy and successfully complete the deals.”