Art Rutenberg

“Art Rutenberg wants to know if you ever return your telephone calls?”

It was 1991, and the question came from Bill Kendall, then-EVP at Arthur Rutenberg Corporation and my direct report.  The question stung, because it was a sad truth.  Since then, I have had a policy of returning every telephone call (and replying to every e-mail message) within 24 hours.  Just one of the many lessons I learned from this man.

Professional Builder

Over the years, Art and I periodically met and spoke, exchanging our thoughts and ideas, discussing different opportunities, different perspectives.

He was always the same.

A few years ago, I sent him the draft on an Escape from Averageness® post that mentioned Arthur Rutenberg Homes, and I asked him if that was his recollection, as well.  As usual, he responded within a day.  His reply:  “Fletch, You can say anything you want about us so long as it is true. You have a better memory about these things than I do, so I’ll trust yours. Best, Art”.

In the Preface of both editions of The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production©, I wrote this about Art Rutenberg:

“There are few people in the homebuilding industry from whom I have learned more than my former boss, Art Rutenberg, the always-accessible (he taught me that, too) chairman of Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Inc.

“I hope The Pipeline repays some of that debt, because ARH is a picture of consistency, discipline, and elegant systems integration on everything related to how much a franchisee makes on each home – and on absolutely nothing related to how many homes that franchisee can produce with a planned, finite, and controlled amount of production capacity.

“Art and I agree that we live our lives on opposite sides of the DuPont identity;  he is all about margin, and I am all about velocity.  The reality is, a homebuilding company needs both.

“He tells me my job is easy;  I ask him, if what I do is so easy, why isn’t he any good at it.

“I hope Art enjoys reading The Pipeline.”

I think Joanne Burton said it well:  “Art was a special guy, and will be missed by many.”


Art Rutenberg, founder of Arthur Rutenberg Homes, died March 31, 2017.