CHICAGO – In 1977, RE/MAX came to Illinois when Dennis Sluga opened a RE/MAX franchise in Elmhurst. This year, the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and Sluga, who has been along for every step of that journey, was honored for his 40 years of dedication to the RE/MAX brand.
The long-time Elmhurst resident received a special Ruby Award at the 40th Annual RE/MAX Awards Ceremony at Navy Pier, a fitting tribute to one of the true pioneers for what has become the most widely recognized global brand in real estate.
Sluga was an experienced real estate agent when he purchased the RE/MAX franchise for Elmhurst, Ill., on July 27, 1977. After growing up in Franklin Park, Ill., and then getting his real estate license, he served with the 25th Infantry Division in Viet Nam, rising to the rank of 1st Lieutenant before returning home to resume his career.
“I was always attracted to the idea of operating my own office because I was comfortable with holding a leadership position,” Sluga recalled. “I looked at various alternatives before choosing RE/MAX because even though it was new, I was confident its business model would attract top agents, and that is just what happened.”
When purchasing the Elmhurst franchise, Sluga flew to Colorado to complete the deal, working personally with RE/MAX co-founder Dave Liniger, who today serves as chairman of RE/MAX Holdings Inc.
Though his RE/MAX office was the first in Illinois, the Elmhurst franchise was the second one sold in the state.
“Another fellow purchased a franchise before me, but he decided not to open his office immediately, while we moved ahead,” said Sluga.
For the next 29 years, Sluga headed the RE/MAX office in Elmhurst before deciding to step away from his management duties in 2006. At that point, he sold his interest in the business but continued his involvement in real estate. He now is affiliated with RE/MAX Action in Lisle, Ill., and remains an active investor in residential properties.
“I’ll probably retire in a few years, but in the meantime, I’ve been able to focus on those aspects of this business I enjoy most. I’m having a great time. This award is just some icing on that cake,” he said.