What in the world do cakes, pastries and pies have in common with the commercial real estate industry?
More than you might think — just ask Wade Rhodes.
After decades spent running a family bakery business, Rhodes made the transition to the commercial real estate business — and it was in no way a stretch.
“It prepared me greatly for small business advisement,” said Rhodes, who was born into the Rhodes Family Bakery business — which represented the first retail bakery in the city of Atlanta.
Indeed, Rhodes — who actually obtained his real estate license at the age of 24 but never considered a career in the business until recently — learned early via his chain of bakeries the value of building ownership.
“I owned three buildings, and when I sold the business I was able to lease them back,” Rhodes said. “My whole retirement was based on commercial real estate.”
Yet it was only when he got to know Frank Norton, Jr., that the idea of making real estate a business came into being.
“I knew Frank and his parents; he’s a third generation member of a family business, and so was I,” Rhodes said. “Very few family businesses make it through the third generation, because of how hard it is to maintain the drive that it takes to start it and keep it going, so I admired Frank for that. He understands what it takes, and he’s always looking for ways to make things better.”
Rhodes was in the same boat when he graduated from college and grew his own bakery group, opening stores in Stone Mountain, Snellville and Tucker, before moving to Habersham County, where he opened a commissary. It was after his move to northeast Georgia that he partnered to open a restaurant in Gainesville.
After selling the bakery business in 1999 — his cousins still run a Rhodes Bakery branch on Cheshire Bridge Rd. in Atlanta — Rhodes began bringing development to his new community of Habersham, an undertaking that included a blockbuster agreement with Wal-Mart in Cornelia.
“That deal really solidified me in commercial real estate and opened a lot of doors,” Rhodes said. “I’m the only agent Norton has in the mountain regions that is purely in commercial real estate.”
Rhodes has also spent plenty of time opening doors for others in Habersham, including hours spent teaching with Junior Achievement in the Habersham County Schools System.
“I tell them that education affects the rest of your life, and that you have to start preparing now for success,” said Rhodes, who also helped found the North Georgia Soccer club in Habersham. “We focus on cause and effect relationships, and that decisions have consequences.”
Rhodes is also hard at work making choices for the betterment of Habersham’s communities as chair elect of the Habersham County Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve made great strides in getting our seven cities and the county to all work together for the betterment of everyone,” Rhodes said. “We also work with Piedmont College MBA students and North Georgia Tech, as well as closely with the University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership to resolves issues in the county.”
Professional Accomplishments & Community Service
- Agent, Norton Agency’s Commercial division
- Co-anchored development of Cornelia Wal-Mart
- Chairman elect, Habersham County Chamber of Commerce
- Active in Junior Achievement
- Works with University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership
- Helped found North Georgia Soccer Club