Rockford Homes’ commitment to building homes that meet its customers’ needs has earned it a solid reputation.
By Jim Harris
Rockford Homes has been dedicated to its home market in central Ohio for the past 35 years. “We don’t chase markets – if a project is away from our base, we won’t do it,” says Don Wick, president of the Columbus, Ohio-based homebuilder. “We are as big as we want to be.”
Staying within its home market allows the company to offer its customers a level of quality and personalized service that larger, national companies may not necessarily be able to provide.
“I’m proud of our reputation for consistency,” Wick adds, noting the company has high customer referral and repeat customer rates. “We build the same kinds of homes in the same jurisdictions, so we know the codes and procedures and how long it takes to process building permits in the places in which we build, so our customers know how the process will take and what they can expect.”
Wick considers the company to be positioned in-between the two most prevalent homebuilding business models. “A production builder prices a house and then sells it, and a custom builder sells a house before pricing it,” he says. “We take a best of both worlds approach in that we price models out and sell them, but we can customize the home to our customers’ needs.”
Rockford Homes builds on land it owns in 30 communities in central Ohio. Most of the company’s existing communities have an average home price of $350,000, though Wick says the company is looking into developing properties at a lower price point to meet market demand. In addition to single-family homes, the company in recent years has also developed condominium properties.
The company’s hottest-selling community is Jerome Village in Jerome, Ohio, where it has built three neighborhoods on a 1,400-acre site. The company last year sold 27 lots there, Wick notes.
Providing quality homes at a competitive price has been Rockford Homes’ goal since it was founded in 1982 by Robert Yoakam Sr. Yoakam passed on leadership to his son, Robert Yoakam Jr., who was the company’s president from the late 1990s until his passing in 2015. The Yoakam family, who remain owners of the company, promoted Wick to president in spring 2015.
Rockford Homes closely involves its clients during the early preconstruction phase of its homes. “We explain our process to our customers and let them know where we have flexibility,” Wick says, noting that customers can make changes to home drawings during pre-permit reviews. “We have scheduled touchpoints where we can communicate what homeowners can expect.”
Commonly requested features and finishes include hard-surface floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances in kitchens and large floor plans that account for several generations of people in one home. “We’re building bigger houses because more people are living in them now,” he adds, noting that many primary homeowners have adult children and elderly parents in the house, necessitating separate living areas.
Rockford Homes’ houses also commonly include green features such as high-efficiency water heaters and the use of foam insulation and sealant. “Energy efficiency and a lower overall cost of maintaining a house are very important to people,” Wick says.
The company is assisted in its building efforts by a regular pool of subcontractors, many of which have worked with Rockford Homes for several years. “We have very long-lasting and loyal subcontractors and suppliers, who we try to keep busy all the time with regular production,” he adds.