Sugar Ray Thomas
Real estate is what drives this son of St Ann, who describes himself as a passionate leader that believes in active listening and taking action where necessary.
Rory Marsh, who is the owner of the St Ann-based real estate company Keller Williams Jamaica (formerly Meldam Realty), is on a goal of improving the industry in Jamaica to make the island the number one destination for real estate investment in the world.
Through hard work, sacrifice, courage and determination, this former track and field standout at Munro College, has risen from the storm of his personal battles to become an enthusiastic, passionate realtor, who also focuses his efforts helping the children of St Ann through sports.
In an interview with the North Coast Times Mr Marsh revealed that there are three philosophies that have motivated him and he has also utilized them as a guide in helping to motivate others. These philosophies are:
1 “Treat others as you would like to be treated”,
- “The difference between where you are today and one year from now are the books you read and the people you meet,” and
- “If you don’t keep improving then you’re going backwards because the world keeps changing.”
Born in Kingston, Rory Marsh grew up in the community of Bonham Spring in Ocho Rios, St Ann. He was the youngest child of three for his parents, Joan and Tony Marsh. Along with his parents and his older siblings, Tanya and Dane, they all supported him.
Mr Marsh’s early education saw him attending the St John’s Preparatory School until he successfully passed the Common Entrance Examinations at age nine to Munro College.
“I was pretty big for my age, so it was thought that it would have been a good time to go even though I was just nine,” Mr Marsh recounted.
TRACK AND FIELD
Mr Marsh’s father, who was involved in real estate and farming, was a former captain of the track and field team at Calabar High School, where he threw the discus and shot-put.
“So from a young age of nine, he (my father) started showing me how to throw the shot put and the discus. So during my years at Munro, he would always assist and help to coach me in this area. That’s how I got involved in track and field,” Mr Marsh pointed out.
However, his mother, Joan Marsh, who also worked in the real estate industry, guided young Rory with his academics.
“She was always supportive of my athletic career. However, it was always second to my academics. So, she ensured I was able to leave Munro with 11 subjects and on to an athletic scholarship in university,” he noted.
Mr Marsh explained that his boarding experience at Munro taught him to be “a well rounded person” as he was taught that “if we do well in school work, as well as athletics, you can go very far.”
During his years at Munro, Marsh became the schools track and field team captain. In his final four years at the school, he amassed eight medals at the Boy’s Athletics Championships with five of these being gold. Marsh was also in his athletic career, elected by the Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) to be the country’s national team captain for the 1997 Pan American Games in Cuba.
“Being at Boy’s Champs and winning gold medals really helped to boost my confidence. It’s that feeling you get when you’re working hard and seeing the results and you want to keep working hard to maintain those results… That feeling I got at Boy’s Champs carries over to this day in my career, which is why I love real estate so much, because it is a very competitive field,” Marsh declared.
Mr Marsh also explained that in his early teens he had to struggle with being overweight and he faced being teased.
“At age 15, I had a size 42 waist and the more I got teased, it is the harder I trained in track and field. By the time I graduated, I had a size 34 waist and after that I went on to model in university,” Mr Marsh revealed.
DEFYING THE ODDS
Mr Marsh said that the standout of his track and field career was when he had just one month to attain a discus throw of 47 metres to receive a university scholarship. He shared that in those days the universities were not giving scholarships to the throwing events due to the standards being low.
“The farthest I had thrown before that was 43 metres. The National Championships in 1997 was the only one track and field meet left for me to achieve and gain that distance… There was one month for me to move from 43 metres to 47 metres and to put that in perspective that’s over 12 feet. That is almost impossible to achieve in one month,’ Mr Marsh explained.
However, failure was not an option for Rory Marsh as if he failed to achieve the distance, his athletic career and his dreams would be over. His routine for a month saw him waking up at 4:30 every morning to train for an hour and a half, finishing class at two o’clock and training with his discuss coach until 5:30 p.m. It was then on to his school work and finally at around 8 o’clock in the night, he went to the gym for about an hour.
When the day of the championship came, on his third throw, he achieved a mark of 47.34 metres and at the age of 18, he won the national senior championship.
“With that one throw of 47.34 metres, I was able to achieve a $60,000 US track and field scholarship to the University of South Florida. I was able to move from that to getting an internship at Outback Steakhouse (a US company) and now to owning the franchise in Jamaica for one of the largest real estate companies in the world (Keller Williams). That day must stand out in my mind, because if I did not achieve 47 metres, I would not have gotten the opportunity of getting an education and the exposure that has brought me here today,” Mr Marsh stated.
When Mr Marsh entered university initially, he had wanted to study physiotherapy. However, after his first year, he made the change to business and pursued a degree in Organizational Communication.
In his last year of university, a crucial decision was made between track and field and his business career. He had an internship opportunity at the highly profitable Fortune 500 Organization, Outback Steakhouse and if he took that offer, he would not be able to focus 100 percent on track and field. This was when he decided to close that chapter on athletics.
Looking back, Mr Marsh said he had no regrets on making that decision.
“I have no regrets. I had to make a decision and move on… I try to support the young ones now and I try to encourage and motivate the coaches, especially Michael Vassell and Julian Robinson, who have been doing a fantastic job with the throwing events in Jamaica,” Mr Marsh revealed.
THE WORKING WORLD
After a successful internship at Outback Steakhouse, a position was created for him at the corporate offices in Tampa, Florida. He spent two years in marketing and media before returning to Jamaica.
Mr Marsh said the experience of working in the USA, was “eye opening.”
“You had to arrive at work on time…. One thing I learned at that company (Outback Steakhouse) was that in order to succeed when you are at work, you must focus 100 percent. So whatever you are doing, focus on it 100 percent,” he said.
BACK IN JAMAICA
With his degree in Organizational Communication, Rory Marsh received a job as an assistant lecturer for four months at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston.
He was later worked at a food distribution company, National Meats in Ocho Rios for eight years.
In 2011, Mr Marsh joined his mother Joan Marsh, who was the owner of the St. Ann based real estate company Meldam Realty. Meldam Realty was founded by Daniel Melville over 45 years ago before being led by his mother. His decision to join the family business was because his mother was soon to retire. He eventually took over the company in 2014.
With Mr Marsh at the helm, Meldam Realty achieved record sales in 2014. He was also able to win the award of the University of South Florida’s 56 fastest growing companies owned by an alumnus. On the heels of this award, he won the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015.
Shortly after this, Mr Marsh began having discussions with the largest real estate company in the world, Keller Williams about a possible merger. By January 2017 the deal was signed and Meldam Realty became Keller Williams Jamaica. The merger brought with it a significant investment in training and technology to the real estate sector in Jamaica
“You become one with your organization. When you think of Rory Marsh, you think real estate and I’ve become one with the company. So my life is dedicated to it,” he noted.
Mr Marsh attributes much of his success to being blessed by God, family, friends, and the Keller Williams team members.
He is a family oriented man who spends as much time with his wife and children. His passions include reading and of course, selling real estate.
He is on the board of directors for the Realtors Association of Jamaica and he is on a mission to help the country of Jamaica to achieve a first world technology driven real estate industry. Mr Marsh is also a member of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ).
Over the years, Mr Marsh through his company has supported various football competitions in the parish of St. Ann and continues to do so at the junior and senior levels. Mr Marsh believes that football is a sport which can help to galvanize communities because of its broad appeal.
“We (Keller Williams Jamaica) are now preparing a football tournament for prep schools in the parish of St Ann. I believe through sports, it will help the children to become well rounded and develop a competitive spirit within them,” Mr Marsh said.
In addition, the company has over the years supported chess tournaments and is in the process of launching a reading competition in the parish of St. Ann.
Rory Marsh’s advice to young leaders and entrepreneurs is: “Find your passion and become a master at it. They say it takes 10,000 hours to master something. I say it should not take five to six years to master something but two years by reading, listening, and watching videos by people in your chosen field.”
Meldam’s international link good for Ja – Marsh
Rory Marsh sees the successful partnership achieved with Keller Williams International as being good for Jamaica and not just for his business.
Keller Williams International has 171,000 agents across the globe and now in Jamaica the team consists of over 30 with offices in Ocho Rios and Kingston. There will be a third office opening in Montego Bay by January 2018.
“We made a decision to join forces with Keller Williams, because on one hand you had the fastest growing real estate company and decided it is time to merge it with the largest real estate company. The reason for that (the merger) was because of the proven track record that Kelly Williams has of training, technology and the extensive agent penetration around the world. Therefore, we would be in a position to provide our customers with a premium service of helping them to get their houses sold in a timely fashion,” Mr Marsh explained.
While adding that Keller Williams has the best minds in information technology, he said his goal was not only to help the team members of Keller Williams, but “to help all realtors across the country.”
“I believe that if the entire industry does well, I will automatically do well, because the entire industry will become attractive to the rest of the world and if the real estate industry is attractive to the rest of the world, then Jamaica will become a very attractive place to invest,” Mr Marsh opined.
Being an entrepreneur has been exciting for him and his experience has taught him that being an entrepreneur is not a nine to five, but “it is a lifestyle.”