Rockford Homes: Family Craftsmanship
Even in today's business climate of huge, public companies and mega corporate mergers, family-run businesses can still survive and flourish. Rockford Homes is an example of a family business that has thrived.
The third largest home builder in Central Ohio, Rockford is still owned and operated by the Yoakam family. Robert Yoakam Sr. founded the company in 1982 and serves as its CEO, although he is slowly divesting himself from the company's day-to-day operations. "Dad's semi-retired. He works 30 hours a week instead of 60," jokes Robert Yoakam Jr., the company's president since 1995.
Other family members who work for the company include Yoakam Sr.'s youngest son, Pat, who oversees drawings for construction and is responsible for the appearance of all Rockford's model homes and subdivisions, and his son-in-law, Dave Sowers, who is Rockford's Manager of Information Services.
The core philosophy that has guided Rockford Homes throughout its rapid growth is openness and accessibility. "All employees, regardless of their positions with the company, can come and talk to me about any concerns, problems or ideas," Yoakam Jr. says. "We've always had an open-door policy."
This atmosphere of openness, combined with Rockford's commitment to building the best possible home for the money, has made Rockford one of the fastest growing home builders in the area. Rockford's dedication to excellence begins with the quality brand-name materials they use, such as Aristokraft oak cabinets, Delta faucets, Carrier heating and cooling systems and Certainteed roofing. Currently, Rockford builds homes ranging from the $160s to the $400s, including the affordable “Innovation Series” priced from the $160s to $200s.
From the ground up
The success of Rockford Homes is merely the latest in a long string of successful business ventures for Yoakam Sr. A life-long Columbus resident, he is a testament to the benefits of hard work and keen foresight. In 1947, Yoakam Sr. entered his first business. He and his father started a floor-covering business, which became a leading cabinet and floor-covering manufacturer in the Midwest.
Yoakam Sr. later started Candlelite Builders, a single-family, multi-family and commercial building company. Rockford Homes spun away from Candlelite, when Yoakam Sr. decided to go into business with his children.
"When we first started Rockford Homes," explains Yoakam Sr., "we laid out a map and we looked at the outer belt. We then pinpointed areas where we thought people would like to live." The company now builds in 32 communities throughout Central Ohio. This means that just about everyone can find a Rockford neighborhood where they would like to live.
According to Don Wick, Rockford's executive vice president, "the success of Rockford Homes is really due to Bob Sr.'s work ethic, and the work ethic of everyone at Rockford Homes."
Yoakam Jr. agrees that his father's work ethic is powerful. "If his competition started at 8:00 a.m., then he started at 6:00 a.m."
Rockford is the largest privately-owned home builder in central Ohio. The Yoakams believe that private ownership lets them make more flexible business decisions and also allows them to give their customers more personalized attention.
"We'll try as hard as we can to accommodate our customers' needs and wants," says Yoakam Jr. "We offer more than 20 different floor plans, but we do allow some changes to be made in most of our floor plans." He adds that not all builders allow their buyers to have that option.
The company also offers its customers personalized attention through its design center located at their Polaris Parkway headquarters. At the design center, customers can select amenities and features for their homes. The design center has full-time design consultants who review all the options with each home buyer.
"No two people have exactly the same tastes, so our designers assist them in choosing the colors, materials, brands and styles of the interior and exterior features of their homes," says Wick. "The customers' ability to customize their home to their personal tastes is one of the biggest advantages of building a new home."
The designers give buyers a good sense of what each color or material will look like in their new home. Additionally, giving home buyers all of their choices ultimately adds to the diversity of design and color in each Rockford neighborhood.
Anticipating the market
The Yoakams continue to build on their hard work and shrewd anticipation of their market. "It's not our goal to be the biggest builder in town -- never has been," explains Yoakam Jr. "We just want to continue building quality homes at competitive prices."
Despite the recent housing market boon, Rockford is careful not to get ahead of itself. "You simply can't force a market," observes Yoakam Jr. "The 'build it and they will come' philosophy doesn't work. The market will dictate where you can build."
The company continues to assess and grow with the market. "We're continuously updating our product in response to customer wants and desires, and we're always looking to buy land in prime locations," says Yoakam Jr.
Through vision, determination and hard work, Yoakam Sr. has built a successful business and provided his family with security. "Seeing the kids be successful," he emphasizes, "that's the reward. That's the true reward."
*The price range of homes quoted in this article has been changed from the original publication in order to reflect current costs.
Brickstone Green Condos
5982 Cambridge Green, Hilliard Ohio 43026
Price: From the $220s
Contact: (614) 850-0184
School District: Hilliard Schools
Hours: Mon.-Wed., 12-7 p.m., Sat., 12-5 p.m., Sun., 12-6 p.m. Closed Thurs. & Fri.
Brickstone Green Condominiums is located in the heart of Hilliard off of Cosgray road. Brickstone features an upscale setting with 58 planned condominiums surrounded by plenty of green space. Homes are designed around stucco and stone exteriors, bay windows, and dormers to further build upon the upscale community....Read more
Because we are constantly improving our product, we reserve the right to revise, change and/or substitute product features, dimensions, specifications, architectural details and designs without notice. This Web site is for illustration purposes only and is not part of a legal contract.