July-August 2011 | BUILDING A LEGACY

BUILDING A LEGACY
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COVER STORY

BUILDING A LEGACY

Mills Creek Builders’ Kevin Rohe has adapted with the times and now offers more top-quality products and services to Eastern Shore residents than ever

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

Kevin Rohe loves the Eastern Shore. In a sense, Kevin Rohe is the Eastern Shore. Sporting wavy blond hair, youthful looks and a laid-back attitude, this man with a guitar under one arm and a fishing rod under the other is in many ways a quintessential son of the Eastern Shore.

But Rohe is ultimately two men in that his lovin’-life, cowabunga vibe goes right back on the shelf when there’s a job to be done. Then, you couldn’t find a more serious individual if you dredged the Chesapeake from end to end. Sure, it may sound a little schizoid, but the 40-year-old comes by it naturally. His grandfather, an esteemed custom-home builder, had Rohe showing up at the jobsite to work from the time the youngster was 8 years old. It was from then until he was about midway through high school that Rohe cut his teeth, as it were, through his exposure to every facet of home construction great and small, both inside and out.

The result is a deft residential-construction master who understandably prides himself on a level of diversification, design and craftsmanship that positions him as unique in Delmarva’s coastal region.

“After an apprenticeship with my grandfather that was the best anyone could ask for, I began building homes independently in 1989,” said Rohe, who was really still just a kid at that point, “and in 2002, I made it official when I formed Mills Creek Builders.”

Rohe also admits to being more than blessed for having survived the housing-industry meltdown unscathed, but closer examination reveals some shrewd decision-making that establishes his unabated success as much a function of planning as it is good fortune.

“A little more than four years ago I had been watching the economy in general and the housing industry in particular with great interest,” recalled Rohe, whose father was a high-ranking Sears & Roebuck executive who not only imparted a great work ethic to his son but also a natural flair for financial management. “And what I’d noticed was that the home-building industry and land costs were increasing so dramatically over such a relatively short period of time that they were utterly unsustainable. You’d have to triple the average American’s salary in five years’ time to keep pace, and I knew there was no way anything like that was ever gonna happen. That meant the only place the market could go was down — and fast.”

That’s when Rohe trusted his instincts and used his hard-won multidisciplinary expertise and hereditary talent for building to diversify his business to better serve a larger
segment of the community. It means that not only did Mills Creek Builders continue to expand its new-home-design-and-construction division to include custom home remodeling, additions, renovations, porches, decks and exteriors, at very competitive prices, for anything from the coziest 1,200 sq. ft. ranch-style home to a 10,000 sq. ft. mansion or commercial structure, he also launched two brand-new enterprises: Counter Crafters & Woodworks, Inc. and The Hardwood Floor Store.

Counter Crafters mobilizes over 20 years’ experience in DuPont-certified solid-surface fabrication and repair. Other countertops include granite, quartz, onyx and laminates in addition to the creation of brand-new kitchens, cabinet refacing, custom built-in units and bathroom remodeling from top to bottom. They also carry lines by la crème de la crème among manufacturers, including Norcraft, Shiloh, HomeCrest and Aristokraft, as well as designer faucets, fixtures and lighting, with what Rohe promises his customers will be a perfect fit for both lifestyle and budget.

The Hardwood Floor Store, meanwhile, has an array of flooring options so vast, the dizziness it engenders will make most folks feel like falling on the floor as a prelude to buying one. Sure, there is the obvious gamut of both exotic and engineered hardwood products, more than sufficiently rich and eclectic to accommodate every style, texture, space, taste and budget, but there’s also copious options in cork, bamboo, porcelain, ceramic, vinyl and designer carpets to the point where you’re likely to agree that Rohe’s flooring showroom will be the only stop you’ll need to make. Looking for a floating floor, or is it a nailed and glued-down application you’re after? Either way, Rohe guarantees a floor so beautiful that by the time he’s done with it, you’ll be tempted to use it as an auxiliary dining surface.

“We not only have our two showrooms but also onsite warehousing and a fabrication shop to make things as much under our control, and therefore as easy for the customer, as humanly possible,” said Rohe, who is an exclusive certified Pella contractor/dealer for his entire region of operations. “We even have brand-new, state-of-the-art computer software that can create for the customer a 3D-representation visual of what
we’re going to do so that the only surprises down the road are pleasant ones.”

Another thing Rohe does to stay ahead of the curve — and the competition — is to educate his mind as much as he has his skillful hands. That means attending a plethora of seminars, symposiums and conferences, acquiring numerous licenses and certifications, and joining various associations that pertain to the services he offers.

“I never want to arrive on a jobsite and face a situation or problem that I don’t know how to resolve efficiently and professionally,” Rohe declared, “which means that I have to be impeccably experienced and well trained. That’s the kind of confidence that every customer is looking for.”

It seems there are not enough hours in the day for all that Rohe has going on, yet he does take time to relax and enjoy life outside of work. In addition to being an all-around sportsman, Rohe is a licensed 100-ton master captain and certified open-water diver who, during the occasional getaway, can be found off the Costa Rican coast, either fishing 60 miles out or riding a perfect eight-footer all the way in. But for Rohe, prime-time has always been family time, especially if it’s with his gorgeous 5-year-old daughter, Darby Shea, who reportedly loves sitting with her dad, who’s also an accomplished guitarist, as he plucks out a blues or jazz tune after a hard day at work.


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