Elegant Homes’ president got a second chance in life, and is making the most of it.
By Chris Kelsch
There was a time when Ranny McKee, president and founder of Elegant Homes in Las Vegas, would have been happy just to walk again, let alone start a thriving custom home business.
In 1991, McKee suffered a traumatic injury while competing in a motocross event that left him paralyzed, a quadriplegic at age 25. While many would have accepted their fate, McKee did not. Through vigorous rehabilitation and with the support of his family, he found himself walking again just seven months after the accident.
Soon after, he started Elegant Homes in 1992. 25 years later, both McKee and the company are thriving. Elegant Homes is set to complete its 50th luxury custom home in 2017, one of its most ambitious projects to date in terms of size and scope. As for Mckee, he has recovered as well, though he remains meticulous in moving through and reviewing his homes. I really take my time in walking through houses,” McKee says. “It is so important to me to review and look at every detail.”
It’s a good thing McKee is as meticulous as he is, because his clients are accomplished in business, sports and entertainment, with some of the homes even appearing on MTV’s “Cribs” television show. Steven Jackson, who recently retired after 11 seasons in the NFL, is one of his clients. So are ex-NFL defensive back Brian Kelley. And former UNLV Basketball coach Lon Kruger.
What started as a business that built homes in the 2,500-square-foot range now builds homes as big as 20,000 square feet. For McKee, though, it doesn’t really matter how famous the client may be. “My philosophy was always to be personable with the client,” McKee notes. “I want my clients to know I am always there for them at any time. Our goal is to put our clients first which I can do by taking on a few select projects. Quality over quantity enables us to do just that.”
Overseeing only a few homes at once allows McKee to pay close attention to details, and gives him time to research many new technologies that his clients would like to see in their homes. For instance, there was the client who wanted an elevator to be built for his car, so he could literally take it to his bedroom at night. Regardless of the request, McKee is happy to ensure his clients remain happy. “It’s not about my vision; it’s about the client’s vision,“ McKee states.
Best of the Best
While tastes might vary, McKee has noticed one dominant trend he doesn’t see going away: technology. “There has been a huge movement toward home automation,” McKee says. “Every single light needs to turn off by itself and every door needs to open by itself.” Fortunately for his clients, McKee is as picky as they are when it comes to selecting materials and finishes to complete the homes he builds. “I am so picky,” McKee says. “That is why my clients hire me. They want the house to be perfect as it should be.”
In addition to being picky with materials, McKee puts a huge emphasis on communication, with both clients and subcontractors. Though he employs full-time superintendents, he still makes it a point to be on site everyday. He also prefers to work with a group of five or six qualified subcontractors for each trade. “There has to be competition,” McKee says. “If we don’t have competitive bids, prices will go through the roof and quality will suffer.”
Given that McKee has come so far since his injury – both personally and professionally– he has had 25 years to reflect on what it means to get a second chance.“With me it’s all about honesty and caring for what I do,” McKee states. “Personally for me, this 50th house I am building means it does not matter how hard you fall, it’s about getting up and working hard everyday to achieve your dreams.”
As Elegant Homes begins another 25 years and its next 50 homes, it can do so knowing more clients are coming to town. The Oakland Raiders of the NFL are moving to Las Vegas, and The Golden Knights, a new NHL franchise, will begin play in the 2017-2018 season. Those athletes will need the kinds of homes McKee builds.