By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — Gary Walter has been there for Southwest Michigan Realtors for the past 32 years.
However, Walter will be retiring as executive vice president for the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors in November. He will instead take on a part-time role as CEO of the Michigan Regional Information Center, where he has actively served as president and chief operating officer since its inception 20 years ago.
MRIC created the concept of bringing local associations into a regional group to create an operation system and increase purchasing efficiencies for other Realtors. The regional group includes 11 associations across the state, with more than 6,400 members.
Walter, who turns 68 years old next month, said he approached the association’s Board of Directors five years ago with his “retirement game plan.”
“I’m stepping away from the local association, but will maintain a relationship with a larger group for a couple more years,” Walter said. With the housing market getting close to the peak 2006 numbers, Walter said now is the time to step back. “I have mixed emotions. While I’m glad that I’m going to go under partial retirement mode, I’m going to miss all the Realtors that I’ve worked with the 32 years I’ve been here.”
Walter grew up in Grand Rapids and attended Michigan State University. After graduating he became a naval officer for three years.
After his time in the Navy, Walter moved to Bridgman to be with his wife and got his real estate license.
He first joined the association in 1975 as a Realtor. Two years later, Walter was approached to work for a multiple listing system. In 1980, he was granted a seat on the Board of Realtors in the South Bend-Mishawaka Association of Realtors.
Four years later Walter landed the job he would hold for another three decades. Walter says it was a position he was “fortunate to get.”
He said his 32 years at the helm have flown by.
Walter described how dramatically real estate transactions have changed in that time.
“A lot of it has to do with legal liability issues for sellers and real states agents. Back in the 1970s, there was only inspection, which was normally used to check for termites,” Walter said. “Financing has become more complicated, interest rates are lower than ever and now all you have to do is go on the internet to see what’s on the market.”
Walter’s dedication to members and his profession led to his induction by the National Association of Realtors Association Executives Committee into the Dr. Almon R. “Bud” Smith RCE, Association Executives Leadership Society.
Induction into the Smith Society by one’s peers is considered to be the highest honor bestowed upon an Association Executive.
“We are going to miss Gary Walter’s unparalleled commitment to our association and community. He has excelled in leading our association and helped to educate and mentor member Realtors,” Paul Dumke, president of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, said in a news release.
Philip Amodeo from Arlington, Texas, will take the helm as the new executive for the Realtor association.
Amodeo brings more than 25 years of experience as an Association CEO with Realtors, home builders and specialty contractors.
He holds a Realtor Broker license in Indiana, a Realtor license in Texas, and formerly was licensed in Nevada. Amodeo has obtained many Realtor distinctions including Certified Association Executive, Certified Residential Specialist, and Accredited Buyer Representative.
“I am eager to apply my experience and expertise to lead the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors to new heights,” Amodeo said in a news release. “The real estate industry and its practitioners face many hurdles and challenges.”
Amodeo graduated from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University, where he was recruited to become the executive director of the regional Northwest Indiana Home Builders Association. After six years there and a year in real estate brokerage, he moved to the Indiana Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors in Indianapolis to assume the CEO position of a much larger, statewide association, where he remained for 18 years.
He also spent time as the executive vice president of the Montana Association of Realtors, sold real estate in the Las Vegas real estate market, and served more than three years as the CEO of the South Central Wall, Ceiling & Plaster Association.