Long before the hit HGTV show “Property Brothers” aired in 2011, Mike and Tim Runyan were closing out deals of their own. The brothers Runyan, who both graduated from Trevecca in the 70s, have been in the business for more than 30 years—much longer than HGTV brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott have been swinging hammers and helping couples sign on dotted lines.
FEELS LIKE HOME
Mike, '73, a commercial real estate broker in Atlanta, and Tim, ’79, a residential broker in Charleston, West Virginia, both came to Trevecca to play basketball. Tim said it was the southern hospitality and the hometown charm that brought them to Nashville, but it was the Trevecca magic that kept them.
“I looked at several schools in West Virginia and visited another Christian university before Trevecca, but when I visited [Trevecca], it was like home,” Tim says. “The students were gathered around the Cascades or out on the lawn throwing Frisbee, and somebody had a guitar playing worship music. We went down to the Hub, and in 30 minutes, I’d already made 30 friends. Trevecca just really stood out.”
When they were younger, Mike and Tim had no interest in real estate— they only wanted to play basketball.
“I wanted to be Jerry West, the NBA basketball player,” Tim says. “He’s a Hall of Famer, the point guard for the Lakers and from a small town in Charleston, West Virginia—just like me. When I was a kid, I’d get out in the driveway and pretend I was Jerry West.”
Mike echoes the sentiment.
“In high school and junior high, I just wanted to dribble,” Mike says. “And I met my wife in high school, so I wanted to play basketball and see Jackie.”
Jackie, Mike’s wife and a Trevecca graduate, went through the University’s counseling program in the early 70s—the same program daughter Emily graduated from 30 years later.
Mike says more than a dozen Runyans have been through Trevecca since he came to the University after two years at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. Brother Doug, cousin Greg, sons and daughters, nieces, nephews and cousins have all been to the Hill and wandered through more than a few of Trevecca’s hallowed halls.
It’s where Mike met his wife, Jackie, and where their son Jonathan met his wife, Courtney.
The Runyans’ link to Trevecca runs deep. Mike and Jackie even lived next door to now University President Dan Boone and his wife and Trevecca sweetheart, Denise, in the married housing units on campus.
“When I think of Trevecca in the 70s, it is mostly about great friends,” Boone says. “We were getting married, working hard to make ends meet, figuring out careers and callings and just enjoying life. Mike and Jackie Runyan were launching their life together alongside Denise and me. Our first homes were across the same apartment breezeway [from each other],” Boone recalls.
And after graduating, it was the Runyans’ uncle, Vernon, a commercial real estate broker in Charleston, who introduced the brothers to the idea of selling others their first homes.
“He was kind of my hero,” Tim says.
Now more than 30 years later, both brothers are still in the business following in the family’s footsteps—and they’re doing well.
Mike who is currently working commercial real estate in Atlanta, earned the respected title of a Certified Commercial Investment Member. Out of the 88 broker offices in Charleston area, Tim’s company was voted number three and has held the title for 10 years.
Both brothers give credit to Trevecca for the foundations they’ve built their businesses upon.
“The education there totally prepared me for where I am in real estate today,” Mike says. “The professors were interactive, interested in our future and took an interest in making sure we were prepared for the fields we chose. It was Trevecca that laid that great foundation we’ve got today.”
Tim pointed back to the way Trevecca taught business—with an emphasis on ethics rather than profit.
“Trevecca taught [us] biblically how to do business,” Tim remembers “And the business department taught much more than how to make money—it taught how to be ethical, which is huge, how to be far-sighted and it taught how to always do the right thing. When you do what’s right, you will prosper. I believe that today.
“My proudest time is right now,” he continues. “Both my sons work with us in the business, and my wife is the business manager. That’s nothing money could buy.”
COMING FULL CIRCLE
At the end of January, Trevecca announced that the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies would be opening two satellite locations in the Atlanta area. Using his commercial real estate expertise and Atlanta know-how, Mike has been instrumental in securing spaces for the program both in Atlanta and in Gwinnett County, Ga.
“Mike’s knowledge of and reputation in Atlanta have given us a giant boost—he is the walking brand of Trevecca in Atlanta,” Boone says. “It seems we always get the opportunity to reinvest in the places that invested in us.”
Mike says he’s honored to take part in Trevecca’s ministry again. In March, he accepted a job serving as the property manager and director of business development for the SGCS’ work in Atlanta.
We began the process about a year and a half ago and found a great site in south Atlanta [before realizing] there was a huge demand for educational facilities in Gwinnett too,” Mike explains. “I located and negotiated the leases, and we’re going to be opening the campuses in the fall.”
“I never knew that I was going to be able to be a part of the ministry at Trevecca or the education for young people, but it is a thrill and a privilege to use my education and background to be able to assist the college in moving forward,” he continues. “I never thought I would have had this opportunity but God is using me in a new capacity, and it really is amazing how His works come full circle.”