Joe Kingsley and Suzanne Lewis, the co-owners of Arches Realty, stand in front of their Center Street offices. [Travis Holtby/ Moab Sun News]

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important decisions any family makes. Being a part of that decision is what Joe Kingsley, the co-owner of Arches Realty, loves most about his job.

“You are able to help a family find a home. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to participate in the building of a family unit,” said Kingsley, who has been working as a realtor in Grand County since 1973.

Kingsley’s career began when he worked with Dean Luxton to develop Castle Valley River Ranchos. After a year of selling land in Castle Valley, it became clear to Kingsley that in order to pursue the career that he wanted in real estate he was going to need a real estate license.

In 1975 he got that license, partnered with A. Dan Holyoak, and opened up the first incarnation of Arches Realty close to where the Moab Brewery now sits. Their opening marked the genesis of the oldest continuously operating real estate company in southeastern Utah.

Things went well and during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s Arches Realty had between 15 and 20 agents on staff.

From 1976 until 1982 Kingsley and Holyoak had the Strout Realty franchise for the state of Utah. However, many people in those days wanted “a more hometown” real estate business, so the pair decided to end the franchise, Kingsley said.

Later on the trends changed, and from 1988 until two years ago Arches Realty was a franchise of Coldwell Banker. But when Coldwell Banker’s corporate policy began leading them to focus more on large, commercial transactions Arches again decided to become independent.

“We have grown with the community. As the community has changed our business has grown considerably,” said Suzanne Lewis, the principal broker and co-owner of Arches Realty.

Lewis moved to Moab in 1989. Growing up as “an Air Force brat” she moved around quite a bit before her family settled in Salt Lake City and Park City.

Coming to Moab fulfilled Lewis’s life-long dream of living in the red rocks. Then, in 1993, Kingsley convinced her to get into real estate.

“I always thought (real estate) sounded like an interesting, fun, challenging job and it has been all of those things,” Lewis said.

And Lewis has done well in her new career; moving up from selling agent to broker three years after starting at Arches and then to principal broker a few years after that.

Shifting to principal broker has meant that Lewis has moved away from actively selling, to working more with Arches’ seven other agents, Lenore Beeson, Kris Hurlburt, Anthony Mason, Lani Asay, Kevin Fitzgerald, Karen Hart, and Kelly Stelter.

“I get to be chief cheerleader in charge. That kind of fits me. No day is ever the same twice,” Lewis said. “I’m still learning every day.”

Lewis believes that, while Moab has many good realtors, Arches Realty puts extra emphasis on providing the absolute best service possible.

“The realtors that work at Arches are all different but we all really want to do the best we can to help the people that come through our doors,” said Kris Hulburt, who moved to Moab in 2002 after spending ten years working for non-profits across Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

With attitudes like this Kingsley feels that he will be leaving Arches Realty in good hands when he retires next year, after a four-decade career in real estate. But while he is looking forward to retiring, Kingsley also knows that there are many things he will miss about working in Grand County real estate.

“Working with my friends will be the biggest thing I miss when I retire. Even though we (the realtors of Grand County) are competitive, we are family,” he said.