Family & Faith: The Ties That Bind & Build
Since founding Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling 25 years ago, Doug Feagles and his wife, Sharon, remain fueled by their family and faith, and driven by a disciplined work ethic.
“We’re not trying to be the biggest builder in town, we just want to be one of the higher-quality builders to work with,” says Doug, one of only a dozen or so accredited Graduate Master Builders in Ohio. “It’s a family business. We just work hard every day. The joke in our house is, it’s not dinner, it’s a staff meeting.”
What hatched as an idea in the basement of the couple’s home in Loveland more than two decades ago is soaring today, and Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling is known for building beautiful, architecturally sophisticated homes of superlative structural quality. Not that there weren’t some uncertain times in between.
“We really just put one foot in front of the other,” Doug says. When you don’t have any money, you work out of the basement of your home. Eventually, one sale leads to another and another. It was a tough beginning – we didn’t have a financial backer, just a little bit of savings.
“We were very, very blessed to come into the business when the housing boom was just starting back in the early ‘90s, and sales came fairly easy. We had a very good run of 18 or 20 years. Homearama was good for us. Our most notable home was a house built through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in the early 2000s. It was a game changer for us. That was a milestone.”
When the 2008 recession hit and new home construction did a nose dive, Doug and his crew dove into home remodeling which, according to Doug, fed his family, paid the bills and ultimately saw the company through to better economic times. “Our faith got us through the good times and the bad times,” he adds.
Today, Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling centers around caring about the subcontractors building the houses and the families buying them as much building the superb, high-quality homes themselves.
“It’s about families,” Doug says.
Turns out Doug’s passion for building comes naturally.
“My great-grandfather was a carpenter – he built some of the Sears Homes back in the ‘20s. My grandfather was a farmer and an electrician, my uncle was an electrician, my dad was an excavator, and my great uncle was a builder. It’s in my DNA.”
And truth be told, he just loves to build stuff. He built model trucks and airplanes when he was a child, and by the time he turned 13 he was driving bulldozers at his dad’s excavation company.
“There’s just pure satisfaction knowing you’ve built something,” Doug says. “But it’s not for everybody.”
And, unlike what do-it-yourself shows on TV may indicate, the Feagles emphasize, remodeling a home doesn’t happen overnight or for 10 cents on the dollar.
“It definitely takes more than that,” adds Sharon, a real estate appraiser and Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling project coordinator. Or, as Doug refers to her, “Our everything person, the key to our success.”
The couple’s three grown children all helped with the business, whether it was cleaning houses, greeting people during Homearama, or other similar duties. Their oldest son, Stephen, carries on the Feagles family career tradition, currently working for one of the biggest home builders in the country.
“He’s had a hammer in his hand since he was little,” Sharon notes, with a chuckle.
Back When Bag Phones Were a Thing
Looking back over the 2 ½ decades since Doug and Sharon took that first entrepreneurial step, Doug can’t help but ponder how much everything has changed in the home building industry.
“Technology shrinks our world. When we started in this business, there were just landlines, pagers and CB radios. My first cell phone was a bag phone,” he muses. “Now, with what we do every day, we’re used to Face Timing our people. I no longer have to drive for half an hour to check on a job, which cuts time and allows me to accomplish other things. And voice texting allows me quite a sophisticated mobile office in my car.”
The tools of the home building and trade are so much more sophisticated, too, he continues.
“Just in the last two or three years, with the new building materials – down to the fasteners we use, the glues, and considering the building codes and fire protection – homes today are so much better built than they used to be. People tend to say, ‘They don’t build ‘em like they used to.’ I say, ‘Thank God, they don’t.’”
No Retirement in Sight
For Doug, navigating the blurred lines defining when the Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling work day and the Feagles’ family time start and stop is and always has been a smooth, uninterrupted flight. And he can’t imagine it any other way.
“People today say you have to be isolated from your job, but I think it’s absolutely wonderful that our work and our lives are absolutely seamless,” he says. “I grew up on a dairy farm in New York. Work and home life were seamless there. We worked and ate and did everything together. When we ate, we talked about tomorrow’s work or hay is coming in or a cow is going to calf – that’s just the way it was.”
As he surveys the future, Doug predicts he’ll be moving in a bit of a counter-cultural direction – at this point, he has no plans to retire.
“I see builders in their mid- to upper-70s still building. I want to keep going,” he says. “I don’t have to be doing as much physical work necessarily. But I intend to keep getting up every day with a purpose. I still want to be building something when I’m 78.”
Meanwhile, Doug and Sharon are planning a small gathering of family, friends and clients in May to celebrate Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling’s quarter century milestone.
“It’s been 25 years of wonderful memories,” Doug says. “We’re always evolving as a company, as a family, as people. It’s been quite a journey.”
Eagle Custom Homes & Remodeling is located at 411 West Loveland Ave., Loveland, OH 45140. For more information, call 513.582.2151 or visit www.eaglecustomhomes.com