Celebrating 60 Years in Homebuilding

When Arthur Rutenberg began his homebuilding business in 1953 in Clearwater, Florida, loans were made with a handshake, building permits took all of fifteen minutes to pick up (ten of which were devoted to chitchat) and sales contracts were written on a half sheet of paper.

The homes themselves were simpler. Solid. Functional. But certainly, no frills. Two bedrooms. A shared bath. A small living room and kitchen. A carport.
 Air conditioning? Not yet.

They sold like hotcakes.

Over the decades, Arthur Rutenberg defined the quintessential Florida home and refined a unique, nationally recognized customized building process.

On the occasion of Arthur Rutenberg’s 60th year in the business, we’re taking a moment to reflect on his journey. Trace the path. Acknowledge the milestones. We’re taking a look back to appreciate the long view of a legendary name in homebuilding.


In 1953, a 26-year old Chicago appliance dealer, along with his father and brother, invests in ten Florida lots. He gets right to work, designing and building three homes on spec. Rutenberg Homes is founded.

The homes sell quickly, and orders begin to pour in. Arthur Rutenberg’s brother, Charles, joins him in Florida in 1955, and establishes a second building and development business, Imperial Homes. The brothers share ownership in both businesses.

Rutenberg Homes grows steadily over the next several years, expanding across 10 Florida locations, on both coasts, and operating as a collection of small, locally managed companies.


The Rutenberg name is soon associated with quality and with innovative design.

In 1969, Arthur and Charles are approached by an out-of-state builder with a proposition: help forge a national homebuilding company. Arthur and Charles merge their Florida businesses with the company, and become two-thirds owners of the U.S. Home and Development Corporation.


U.S. Home attains national prominence and becomes the nation’s largest homebuilder, with Charles Rutenberg at the helm until 1976. Arthur Rutenberg leaves U.S Home in 1970 to focus on developing and building joint ventures with established builders.

Inspired by a belief there was a better way to partner with independent builders, Arthur Rutenberg applies his quarter century of experience to the development of a franchise system for the homebuilding industry. In 1978, Tampa builders Bobby Lyons and Charles Raffo become the company’s first franchisees.


The idea works! Encouraged by the success of the first franchise, Arthur Rutenberg establishes a new company, Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Inc., becoming the nation’s first franchisor of building companies. More success follows as hand-selected builders join the company.

Accolades follow, as well, as Arthur Rutenberg is recognized as a design innovator and as a franchise pioneer. Professional Builder magazine, the nation’s largest building trade publication, names Arthur Rutenberg National Builder of the Year in 1986.


As the company grows, so does the reputation of its founder. In 1996, the Florida Home Builders Association names Arthur Rutenberg to the Florida Housing Hall of Fame.


In 2003, Arthur Rutenberg celebrates 50 years in the business.

In 2008, the company mounts a robust expansion program into North and South Carolina with its brand new Southern Plan Collection.


Each of the company’s independent builders is dedicated to advancing Art’s personal vision of building fine custom homes worthy of both his name…and theirs.

The company’s award-wining portfolio includes some 80 designs, more than 350 different elevations, and a range of styles.

Programmed growth continues in South and North Carolina. Recent growth has included rapid expansion into Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee, further strengthening the Arthur Rutenberg Homes network and brand.


© Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.