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CROOM CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE — ONE HOME AT A TIME

BUILT TO LAST


Built to Last CROOM CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE — ONE HOME AT A TIME WRITTEN BY BARBARA REID

“F

rom the day we opened, we had one goal in mind,” says David Croom, founder and owner of Croom Construction Company in Vero Beach.

“That goal was to be the best.” A lofty aspiration, indeed, but one the company has consistently striven to attain by hiring qualified professionals, building strong relationships and being an industry leader. This month, Croom Construction will celebrate 40 years of building quality commercial and residential properties on the barrier island. From $50,000 renovation projects to $20 million estates, the company has been ranked in the top 50 by leading national design magazines, and ranked No.1 remodeler in the State of Florida for five years in a row. As we sit and talk about the changes Croom has witnessed over the last four decades, he reflects upon those early days in 1978 when he first set up business in Vero Beach. “We had a fax machine, a telephone, an IBM typewriter and mobile radios with antennae. That was it. If someone wanted a photograph of the construction process, we had to go out and take pictures, send them downtown to Skiscim’s camera store to have them devel-

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oped, then pick them up two or three days later and put them JARED BLAIS

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The first home in Windsor was designed by Andres Duany and built by Croom in the early 1990s.

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2


Built to Last CROOM CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE — ONE HOME AT A TIME WRITTEN BY BARBARA REID

“F

rom the day we opened, we had one goal in mind,” says David Croom, founder and owner of Croom Construction Company in Vero Beach.

“That goal was to be the best.” A lofty aspiration, indeed, but one the company has consistently striven to attain by hiring qualified professionals, building strong relationships and being an industry leader. This month, Croom Construction will celebrate 40 years of building quality commercial and residential properties on the barrier island. From $50,000 renovation projects to $20 million estates, the company has been ranked in the top 50 by leading national design magazines, and ranked No.1 remodeler in the State of Florida for five years in a row. As we sit and talk about the changes Croom has witnessed over the last four decades, he reflects upon those early days in 1978 when he first set up business in Vero Beach. “We had a fax machine, a telephone, an IBM typewriter and mobile radios with antennae. That was it. If someone wanted a photograph of the construction process, we had to go out and take pictures, send them downtown to Skiscim’s camera store to have them devel-

1

oped, then pick them up two or three days later and put them JARED BLAIS

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

The first home in Windsor was designed by Andres Duany and built by Croom in the early 1990s.

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2


David Croom in 1980

Groundbreaking of the Commonwealth Building in 1988: Mitch Waddell, Jim Knapp, David Croom, Ben Bailey III, Ben Bailey Jr., James Gibson and Lynn Silkworth

A Croom Construction Company tool shed in John’s Island in 1978, with a custom-milled Georgian window that came from a renovation

in the U.S. mail. And even though the homes were a derivation of English-Georgian architecture they were much simpler. People didn’t deviate much so you had pretty simple interiors compared

Croom built the first oceanfront home in Windsor in 1992, which served as the original beach club and, later, a private residence.

with what you have today. Now, we have much more sophisticated architecture with finishes and materials that come from all over the world.” Croom’s interest in construction began early on in life. Inspired by the classical architecture in his home state of Virginia and the federal and antebellum buildings of his alma-mater, the University of Georgia, he studied industrial engineering and business administration before starting his own construction firm in Sarasota. He describes how a series of serendipitous events brought him to Vero Beach. “A friend of mine came to my office in Sarasota one day with a John’s Island brochure and said, ‘You’ve got to see this place. It’s phenomenal. This is classic architecture in Florida.’ At the

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3

time, I was busy with the business and raising a family so I didn’t think any more about it. Then in 1976, I was approached to come over here and finish three large condominium projects that had Charles Croom with Zachary and Amy Thomas in 1987 during renovation of the former Saint Edward’s Lower School

Harold Campbell, original general superintendent, in 1985

been foreclosed on.

“We were all up there in this little trailer park in a kind of construction staging area in the woods with no paved parking areas.”

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4


David Croom in 1980

Groundbreaking of the Commonwealth Building in 1988: Mitch Waddell, Jim Knapp, David Croom, Ben Bailey III, Ben Bailey Jr., James Gibson and Lynn Silkworth

A Croom Construction Company tool shed in John’s Island in 1978, with a custom-milled Georgian window that came from a renovation

in the U.S. mail. And even though the homes were a derivation of English-Georgian architecture they were much simpler. People didn’t deviate much so you had pretty simple interiors compared

Croom built the first oceanfront home in Windsor in 1992, which served as the original beach club and, later, a private residence.

with what you have today. Now, we have much more sophisticated architecture with finishes and materials that come from all over the world.” Croom’s interest in construction began early on in life. Inspired by the classical architecture in his home state of Virginia and the federal and antebellum buildings of his alma-mater, the University of Georgia, he studied industrial engineering and business administration before starting his own construction firm in Sarasota. He describes how a series of serendipitous events brought him to Vero Beach. “A friend of mine came to my office in Sarasota one day with a John’s Island brochure and said, ‘You’ve got to see this place. It’s phenomenal. This is classic architecture in Florida.’ At the

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

3

time, I was busy with the business and raising a family so I didn’t think any more about it. Then in 1976, I was approached to come over here and finish three large condominium projects that had Charles Croom with Zachary and Amy Thomas in 1987 during renovation of the former Saint Edward’s Lower School

Harold Campbell, original general superintendent, in 1985

been foreclosed on.

“We were all up there in this little trailer park in a kind of construction staging area in the woods with no paved parking areas.”

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

4


David Lyons, right, joined Croom Construction Company in 1986, and Charles Croom came aboard in 2005.

“There’s always a moment at the end of a project when you just step away, look at it and say, ‘Wow.’” REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

5

Outdoor living areas, such as the one in this Clem Schaub designed home in Windsor, are a common request from homeowners.

“At the time there were probably four other develop-

kind of architecture he had admired growing up, he moved

your lot cost on A1A.’ I built the house and then there were two

ments [on the island] and only two that weren’t in foreclo-

his family to Vero Beach and on March 1, 1978, opened Croom

families living in the newest section of John’s Island.”

sure,” Croom remembers. “It’s like somebody came one day

Construction Company. With only a 12-foot by 50-foot trailer

Croom’s son Charles, who now works for the company along-

and turned the switch off and they just languished. It was a

and three employees, Croom shared an undeveloped parcel of

side his father, remembers living there as a boy. “We moved to

national recession at that time and it had hit Florida hard.”

land with two other construction companies at the very north

John’s Island when I was 9 years old. It was on what was known as

But, as luck would have it, legendary developer E. Llwyd

end of John’s Island. “We were all up there in this little trailer

the ‘island of John’s Island’ and while it had been developed, there

Ecclestone Sr. was forging ahead with his dream of build-

park in a kind of construction staging area in the woods with no

was only one other house on it. I had free rein and it was a great

ing an exclusive community of homes nestled between the

paved parking areas,” he says of their humble beginnings.

place to grow up. We had a dog and we’d take her out and see

ocean and the Indian River Lagoon on north A1A.

“My very first project was a spec house on North Indian

these eyes in the woods — they were panthers. That was normal.”

The development was known as John’s Island and it was

Harbor Road that sold for $250,000 before it was completed.

By 1990, the company started seeing changes in architectur-

approximately 20 percent built out in 1978 when Ecclestone

Nothing had ever sold for more than $200,000, so that made it

al styles and designs. Commissioned to build the first homes

approached Croom saying they were looking to fill the posi-

the most expensive spec home they had ever sold there.”

in Orchid Island and Windsor, Croom remembers the Windsor

tion of construction manager. “I said I appreciated the offer

Croom continued to build both custom and speculative

project as being unlike anything they had done before. With its

but it wasn’t something I wanted to do and they said, ‘Oh,

homes in John’s Island throughout the 1980s, including his own

New Urbanism style of living and Anglo-Caribbean architecture,”

we’ve got something totally new. We want you to come up

house in 1983. He says his initial plan had been to build a home

he says, “Windsor attracted architects from all over the world,

here and start a new construction company.’ I said, ‘Now

on south A1A. “They came to me and said they wanted me to

each wanting to outdo the other. It was challenging incorporat-

we’re talking.’”

buy a lot and build a house on it. I told them I couldn’t afford

ing the things they wanted — some that they had never done

a lot in John’s Island, so they said ‘We’ll sell it to you for what

before either.”

Knowing this was the perfect opportunity to build the

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6


David Lyons, right, joined Croom Construction Company in 1986, and Charles Croom came aboard in 2005.

“There’s always a moment at the end of a project when you just step away, look at it and say, ‘Wow.’” REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

5

Outdoor living areas, such as the one in this Clem Schaub designed home in Windsor, are a common request from homeowners.

“At the time there were probably four other develop-

kind of architecture he had admired growing up, he moved

your lot cost on A1A.’ I built the house and then there were two

ments [on the island] and only two that weren’t in foreclo-

his family to Vero Beach and on March 1, 1978, opened Croom

families living in the newest section of John’s Island.”

sure,” Croom remembers. “It’s like somebody came one day

Construction Company. With only a 12-foot by 50-foot trailer

Croom’s son Charles, who now works for the company along-

and turned the switch off and they just languished. It was a

and three employees, Croom shared an undeveloped parcel of

side his father, remembers living there as a boy. “We moved to

national recession at that time and it had hit Florida hard.”

land with two other construction companies at the very north

John’s Island when I was 9 years old. It was on what was known as

But, as luck would have it, legendary developer E. Llwyd

end of John’s Island. “We were all up there in this little trailer

the ‘island of John’s Island’ and while it had been developed, there

Ecclestone Sr. was forging ahead with his dream of build-

park in a kind of construction staging area in the woods with no

was only one other house on it. I had free rein and it was a great

ing an exclusive community of homes nestled between the

paved parking areas,” he says of their humble beginnings.

place to grow up. We had a dog and we’d take her out and see

ocean and the Indian River Lagoon on north A1A.

“My very first project was a spec house on North Indian

these eyes in the woods — they were panthers. That was normal.”

The development was known as John’s Island and it was

Harbor Road that sold for $250,000 before it was completed.

By 1990, the company started seeing changes in architectur-

approximately 20 percent built out in 1978 when Ecclestone

Nothing had ever sold for more than $200,000, so that made it

al styles and designs. Commissioned to build the first homes

approached Croom saying they were looking to fill the posi-

the most expensive spec home they had ever sold there.”

in Orchid Island and Windsor, Croom remembers the Windsor

tion of construction manager. “I said I appreciated the offer

Croom continued to build both custom and speculative

project as being unlike anything they had done before. With its

but it wasn’t something I wanted to do and they said, ‘Oh,

homes in John’s Island throughout the 1980s, including his own

New Urbanism style of living and Anglo-Caribbean architecture,”

we’ve got something totally new. We want you to come up

house in 1983. He says his initial plan had been to build a home

he says, “Windsor attracted architects from all over the world,

here and start a new construction company.’ I said, ‘Now

on south A1A. “They came to me and said they wanted me to

each wanting to outdo the other. It was challenging incorporat-

we’re talking.’”

buy a lot and build a house on it. I told them I couldn’t afford

ing the things they wanted — some that they had never done

a lot in John’s Island, so they said ‘We’ll sell it to you for what

before either.”

Knowing this was the perfect opportunity to build the

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

6


But it was meeting these challenges that propelled the company forward and resulted in more contracts for Windsor homes worth over $90 million. Croom says today they work with nationally recognized architects whose designs are truly works of art. He acknowledges the ability to execute these designs comes from hiring only highly qualified professionals and craftsmen who care about the company as much as he does. “From the beginning, the project managers who came in were all graduates of construction science and construction engineering from recognized universities,” he says. “High-quality people is what the company is all about.” One of those “high-quality” people is Dave Lyons. Having earned his degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, Lyons came on board in 1986. He describes his job as vice president of new business development as creative, varied and stimulating. “I meet with prospective clients, together with Joe Kirby, our estimating manager, and take them through the entire pre-construction scenario of getting plans, putting together estimates, permits and contracts to the point where we are ready to break ground,” he says, adding, “I feel like I have some educator in me because I’m able take the technical information from plans and estimates and explain it to people in layperson’s terms.” Like Croom, he has seen many changes both in technology and product design during his three decades with the company. “All the products from top to bottom are different today — from windows to appliances to flooring,” he says. Also different are the more stringent building codes along with trends toward more sustainable materials and energy-efficient homes. “We have kept pace with the green movement and pay attention to using the most efficient products wherever we can. The ability to adapt and be versatile is continuous,” Lyons notes. “Our clients seem to be attracted to us because of our reputation for being consistently at the top of our game for 40 years and counting. The fundamentals on which the company was founded have never wavered in all the years that it has been in existence.” And it was this standard of excellence that convinced Charles Croom to join his father in the company in 2005. As a Florida Class A-certified general contractor with a bachelor’s degree in

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7

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A riverfront home designed by Harry Gandy Howle & Associates

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But it was meeting these challenges that propelled the company forward and resulted in more contracts for Windsor homes worth over $90 million. Croom says today they work with nationally recognized architects whose designs are truly works of art. He acknowledges the ability to execute these designs comes from hiring only highly qualified professionals and craftsmen who care about the company as much as he does. “From the beginning, the project managers who came in were all graduates of construction science and construction engineering from recognized universities,” he says. “High-quality people is what the company is all about.” One of those “high-quality” people is Dave Lyons. Having earned his degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, Lyons came on board in 1986. He describes his job as vice president of new business development as creative, varied and stimulating. “I meet with prospective clients, together with Joe Kirby, our estimating manager, and take them through the entire pre-construction scenario of getting plans, putting together estimates, permits and contracts to the point where we are ready to break ground,” he says, adding, “I feel like I have some educator in me because I’m able take the technical information from plans and estimates and explain it to people in layperson’s terms.” Like Croom, he has seen many changes both in technology and product design during his three decades with the company. “All the products from top to bottom are different today — from windows to appliances to flooring,” he says. Also different are the more stringent building codes along with trends toward more sustainable materials and energy-efficient homes. “We have kept pace with the green movement and pay attention to using the most efficient products wherever we can. The ability to adapt and be versatile is continuous,” Lyons notes. “Our clients seem to be attracted to us because of our reputation for being consistently at the top of our game for 40 years and counting. The fundamentals on which the company was founded have never wavered in all the years that it has been in existence.” And it was this standard of excellence that convinced Charles Croom to join his father in the company in 2005. As a Florida Class A-certified general contractor with a bachelor’s degree in

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

7

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

A riverfront home designed by Harry Gandy Howle & Associates

9


building science from Auburn University, he says the decision to team up with his father meant moving his wife and young family. “I had worked for 10 years for a large, nationally-ranked general contractor in Orlando and I did well there. It definitely took six months or so to decide if it was the right thing to do and, frankly, my dad didn’t know either. As it turned out, I’m happy that we made the move. My dad’s done well and I felt compelled to continue that.” As vice president of operations, one of Charles Croom’s responsibilities is to ensure each project is completed on time and on budget. “Deadlines are important to us as a company,” he says. “Every job is set up with a budget and has a time component, and this is what we are judged on.” One project in particular sticks out in his mind. “We were selected to do the John’s Island West Golf Course clubhouse renovation together with a local architect in the summer of 2011. It was a very tight deadline and there was a firm date it had to be done by,” he recalls. “We worked seven days a week and there were multiple changes throughout the job — all for the good — but we had to manage those, too. It was one of most gratifying projects to pull off,” he says, and then adds reflectively, “There’s always a moment at the end of a project when you just step back, look at it and say, ‘Wow.’ You feel good about it and it’s a pretty powerful feeling.” Today, he notes the demographics of Vero Beach are changing as more young families move into town. “We are definitely seeing a younger crowd in general. And there are second generations of families coming back to these communities. We’re talking to some folks right now for a project and we built the original house for their mother and father. It’s exciting for me to see that.” Calling his father the ‘guiding light’ of the company, and one who insists upon ongoing training for all his personnel, he admires his dad for returning to school later in life to earn his MBA from the University of Miami. “I wasn’t the oldest person in the class,” Croom says, laughing. “There was one guy older than me but I had the distinction of being geographically the most remote of any person who had ever attended the graduate school of business on weekends. Every Friday afternoon, I would pack up and head for Miami.” REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

9

This John’s Island home designed by Peter Moor is one of the most detailed homes Croom Construction Company has built over the years. It features steel windows and doors imported from Europe and a complex high-pitched roof system.

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10


building science from Auburn University, he says the decision to team up with his father meant moving his wife and young family. “I had worked for 10 years for a large, nationally-ranked general contractor in Orlando and I did well there. It definitely took six months or so to decide if it was the right thing to do and, frankly, my dad didn’t know either. As it turned out, I’m happy that we made the move. My dad’s done well and I felt compelled to continue that.” As vice president of operations, one of Charles Croom’s responsibilities is to ensure each project is completed on time and on budget. “Deadlines are important to us as a company,” he says. “Every job is set up with a budget and has a time component, and this is what we are judged on.” One project in particular sticks out in his mind. “We were selected to do the John’s Island West Golf Course clubhouse renovation together with a local architect in the summer of 2011. It was a very tight deadline and there was a firm date it had to be done by,” he recalls. “We worked seven days a week and there were multiple changes throughout the job — all for the good — but we had to manage those, too. It was one of most gratifying projects to pull off,” he says, and then adds reflectively, “There’s always a moment at the end of a project when you just step back, look at it and say, ‘Wow.’ You feel good about it and it’s a pretty powerful feeling.” Today, he notes the demographics of Vero Beach are changing as more young families move into town. “We are definitely seeing a younger crowd in general. And there are second generations of families coming back to these communities. We’re talking to some folks right now for a project and we built the original house for their mother and father. It’s exciting for me to see that.” Calling his father the ‘guiding light’ of the company, and one who insists upon ongoing training for all his personnel, he admires his dad for returning to school later in life to earn his MBA from the University of Miami. “I wasn’t the oldest person in the class,” Croom says, laughing. “There was one guy older than me but I had the distinction of being geographically the most remote of any person who had ever attended the graduate school of business on weekends. Every Friday afternoon, I would pack up and head for Miami.” REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

9

This John’s Island home designed by Peter Moor is one of the most detailed homes Croom Construction Company has built over the years. It features steel windows and doors imported from Europe and a complex high-pitched roof system.

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10


Croom Construction Company teamed up with Moulton Layne P.L. on this renovation of an older John’s Island home.

Continually setting new industry standards, Croom

clients while handling small remodeling projects under $10,000.

offices housing over 20 qualified professionals today, Croom’s

has pioneered several innovative services designed to bet-

In 2006, the company brought Marilyn Kolar on board. She

plan going forward is to focus on strengthening the compa-

ter protect homes and detect problems before they arise.

had been the design manager at MacKenzie-Childs before becom-

ny through classroom training while maintaining the strong

In 1997, he added Precision Painting and Waterproofing

ing Croom Construction’s in-house materials design coordinator,

management practices that have made them so successful. “I

to his roster of services followed a year later by Whitehall

skillfully helping clients choose the hardscapes for their homes.

have been decreasing my activities somewhat,” Croom admits.

While supporting local organizations and volunteering time

“I am looking to Charles and Dave Lyons to take the company

Professional Property Management.

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11

This elegant kitchen is part of a full-home renovation performed by Croom Construction Company with Rob Atkins Architecture.

Lyons explains. “Every single fall when the seasonal res-

and energy to community projects like Habitat for Humanity,

idents came back for the winter, we’d get calls from clients

Croom believes his company has a civic responsibility to give

Charles Croom concurs, “Our job is to look ahead and point

saying, ‘I’ve been gone for four months and this has broken.

back to the community it has helped grow. Over the years, they

the ship in the right direction. I can tell you hands down for us

What do I do?’ Whitehall filled that need,” he says. Today

have also relocated more than 50 live oak trees, believing them

as a company, the barometer of success is whether the owner is

Whitehall manages and maintains properties for over 140

to be an irreplaceable natural resource.

satisfied at the end. It’s the only thing that matters and it’s the

From a trailer with three employees in 1978 to a suite of

Charles Croom, David Croom and David Lyons

to new heights.”

fire that keeps us going.” ❀

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

12


Croom Construction Company teamed up with Moulton Layne P.L. on this renovation of an older John’s Island home.

Continually setting new industry standards, Croom

clients while handling small remodeling projects under $10,000.

offices housing over 20 qualified professionals today, Croom’s

has pioneered several innovative services designed to bet-

In 2006, the company brought Marilyn Kolar on board. She

plan going forward is to focus on strengthening the compa-

ter protect homes and detect problems before they arise.

had been the design manager at MacKenzie-Childs before becom-

ny through classroom training while maintaining the strong

In 1997, he added Precision Painting and Waterproofing

ing Croom Construction’s in-house materials design coordinator,

management practices that have made them so successful. “I

to his roster of services followed a year later by Whitehall

skillfully helping clients choose the hardscapes for their homes.

have been decreasing my activities somewhat,” Croom admits.

While supporting local organizations and volunteering time

“I am looking to Charles and Dave Lyons to take the company

Professional Property Management.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

11

This elegant kitchen is part of a full-home renovation performed by Croom Construction Company with Rob Atkins Architecture.

Lyons explains. “Every single fall when the seasonal res-

and energy to community projects like Habitat for Humanity,

idents came back for the winter, we’d get calls from clients

Croom believes his company has a civic responsibility to give

Charles Croom concurs, “Our job is to look ahead and point

saying, ‘I’ve been gone for four months and this has broken.

back to the community it has helped grow. Over the years, they

the ship in the right direction. I can tell you hands down for us

What do I do?’ Whitehall filled that need,” he says. Today

have also relocated more than 50 live oak trees, believing them

as a company, the barometer of success is whether the owner is

Whitehall manages and maintains properties for over 140

to be an irreplaceable natural resource.

satisfied at the end. It’s the only thing that matters and it’s the

From a trailer with three employees in 1978 to a suite of

Charles Croom, David Croom and David Lyons

to new heights.”

fire that keeps us going.” ❀

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION © VERO BEACH MAGAZINE

12

Croom Construction :: Built to Last  
Croom Construction :: Built to Last