• Open Living Space in Water's Edge in Niceville

Randy Wise Homes Featured in Progress Bank’s Tools for Success Fall/Winter 2021 Issue

Beauty on the Coast: Randy Wise Homes

By Ann Marie Harvey

Randy Wise came to the building industry via a circuitous route. During high school and college, Randy worked at a local hardware store in his hometown of Niceville, Fla.— the kind that stocked everything from fishing tackle to plumbing supplies. “For five years, I learned the language of the materials,” he explains. Still unsure as to his career path, Randy became a mason and laid brick and block. After receiving a degree in exercise physiology, Randy was a teacher and coach for a few years while still laying brick and block on the side. In 1977, Randy Wise Homes was born. “My wife Debbie and I started out small and did everything ourselves,” he says. “We focused on a few custom houses at a time.”

USING THE RIGHT TOOLS
By 1979, the pair had quit their jobs to commit full-time to their company. In the 40 years since, they have added 50 to 70 staff members to do what the two of them used to tackle by themselves. “Things have changed dramatically over the years and have become more complicated,” Randy says. “From building codes to government requirements, it takes more of us in the back office, superintendents and division managers to make sure things are done the right way.”

The Great Recession was actually the impetus for the couple to grow their business further. “We were building five to six custom homes a year and had a huge interest payment each month,” Randy explains. “The best way to manage that was to build more houses and we were fortunate to do that.” At their peak, they constructed about 120 houses a year, with their current volume topping out around 60 to 80 more expensive homes in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

One way Randy has insulated the company is through its many divisions: three for new construction, one for remodeling, a real estate company, a poured wall concrete company, and a cabinet company. “We are probably the largest remodeler in the Panhandle,” he says. “We build a lot of our cabinets and pour concrete walls for walk-out basements. It’s helpful to have these divisions when it’s hard to find good help and materials.”

As prices have increased during the past year, Randy says a typical framing package that formerly cost $20,000 is now closer to $60,000, frustrating many in the industry. “The pendulum swings back and forth and we are fortunate to have the options that we do,” he says.

A FAMILY AFFAIR
Both of their sons, Caleb and Landon, started sweeping out houses before they were 10. By their teenage years, that turned into part-time jobs after school where they gravitated toward learning carpentry. After both graduated from college, they still had the desire to be part of the industry. Today Caleb is the manager of one of the construction divisions while Landon owns his own landscape design company. “Landon does a lot of our landscape work or rehabs existing landscapes on other homes,” Randy says. “They both work really hard for us and it’s a joy for us to work with our sons.” Having their sons in the business means that someday soon the couple can slow down a bit. “We enjoy traveling and spending time with our five wonderful grandchildren,” he says. “I don’t think we will ever retire, but it’s nice to do what we want.”

Randy Wise Homes keeps five to seven model homes open at any given time. “Our visitors comment our houses are so warm and friendly that they don’t want to leave,” Randy explains. “Debbie is our design genius—she has the ability to put things together and is a gifted interior and exterior designer.” Even though it is a construction company, many of his employees are female. “We all work together to create everything from curb appeal to a welcoming interior,” he says.

ALWAYS GIVE BACK
There’s more to this company than just creating beautiful spaces. Randy prides himself on being a loyal community partner. “We support local teams but we also help with larger projects,” he says. “We built three homes through Building Homes for Heroes for severely wounded veterans, completely debt-free.”

In addition to the homes, the business donated $50,000 to the Seventh Group Special Forces to create a memorial wall of their fallen soldiers and gave funds and expertise to a local middle school to build a new baseball field house. “As a former coach, I know how much these kids will appreciate having a space like this,” Randy says. “The plans are drawn up and we are about to get started.”

Having a strong banking relationship with Progress makes this all possible. “We have continued to work with the same bankers for a long time,” he says. “They know us, understand how we work and made the PPP process quick and easy.”

As the company continues to develop on the beach and in other areas on the coast, one thing remains front and center—stewardship. The words Randy has chosen for his company: time-tested, relationship-driven and stewardship-focused tell the true story. “We believe this for our homeowners and suppliers and maintaining those relationships,” he says. “These are the standards that we
live by daily.”

View the full magazine issue here


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