A passionate woodworker evolves into a premier custom home builder
Award-winning Raykon Construction finds success in the fast-growing Utah Valley
Raykon Construction, headquartered in Salem, Utah is a custom home builder in the Utah Valley area, a collection of several cities, towns, and suburbs just south of Salt Lake City in the north central part of the Beehive State. Situated in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, with the freshwater Utah Lake at its center, Utah Valley is known for its natural beauty, its four-season climate, its sports, cultural, and recreational amenities, and its safe, family-friendly communities. No wonder its nickname is “Happy Valley.”
With a population of 705,000, Utah Valley is also home to many prominent technology companies and start-ups. In fact, the area surrounding Lehi, one of its cities, is often referred to as “Silicon Slopes,” in recognition of its importance to Utah’s technology ecosystem and its similarity to California’s Silicon Valley – both powerful economic engines in their respective locales.
The Utah Valley has grown considerably over the past two decades, almost doubling its population since 2000. So the need for all levels of housing is constant, and because there’s also a high-net-worth population tied to the tech industry, the market for large, high-end, expensive homes is equally robust. “Utah is growing,” says Casey Cloward, who founded Raykon Construction in 2008. “And there’s a high demand for construction. We’ve been a beneficiary of the growth and we welcome it. We build homes in the area of 8,000-15,000 square feet, with a price point of $3-8 million. A lot of our homes have indoor sports courts within the structures, which is a nice value-add for our clients. A lot of them might have indoor theaters, golf simulators, large kitchens, etc. Most of our homes have pools. That’s our niche market.”
The company is founded
A third-generation general contractor, Cloward began his career in finish carpentry and fine cabinetry. “Woodworking was a passion of mine,” he relates. After graduating in 2006 from nearby Brigham Young University with a BS in Construction Management, he went to work for a production home builder, where he says that the entire construction process was very transactional. “The homebuyer comes into the sales room, we take the order, and we build the home without any interaction with the client,” he recounts. From the outset, Cloward determined that Raykon would follow a different business model altogether.
“It would always be a customized experience with the homeowner involved,” he states. “They assist and add their opinions and values; they are given a lot of autonomy regarding their decisions as they go through the process with us. I believe in that type of business. We’re not just making a place to live; we’re designing it with them from the very beginning.” That collaborative business model has earned Raykon Construction numerous awards over the last several years, in categories such as: exterior and interior design; landscaping and outdoor space; kitchens, bedrooms, and baths; and overall Favorite Home.
The company grows but stays lean
Today, Cloward’s business is small but mighty with only eight employees including himself: five project managers, a director of operations, and a director of finance. But then there are all of the other professionals that must be assembled in order to plan, design, build, and accessorize a custom-built home.
“Sometimes, my clients will come to me without a plan,” Cloward says. “Maybe they’ll have a building lot and maybe a vision in mind, or a folder of pictures outlining the direction that they want to go. We’ll help them find a team. I call it the ‘dream team,’ with an architect, the general contractor, the interior designer, and a landscape architect a bit later on. The general contractor is the leader of the team, but I’m aware that I need to stay in my lane. I’m a construction manager; I haven’t been trained on how to design houses; I don’t know how color palettes work or how design boards come together. We rely on our professionals to carry out the vision and to put it all together and that their tools and resources are up to our standards. Then we go out and find the trade partners to execute the vision that they put together with us and the homeowner.”
“We’ve had some amazing projects over the last couple of years,” Cloward continues. “And it’s been a treat for us to work with various talented architects and interior designers. We take a diversified approach within the design aspect of construction. We have modern style, we have traditional, we have transitional, farmhouse – there are a lot of opportunities here in Utah and a diverse amount of architectural talent and we don’t target one design over another. We do not do in-house architecture or design; we have partners that we work with, and some of them are on multiple projects for us, but some are not. And if a homeowner already has an architect, we’re very flexible as far as that goes. Of course, we’re going to do our best during the vetting process to make sure they’re a good fit for our systems. But, we welcome our clientele to bring their relationships into the team, as long as we’re working toward a common goal.”
The owner evolves
Cloward recalls that in Raykon’s early days, he was in charge of all of the many details that go into the construction of expensive, high-end homes. But as time went on, he found that he was getting stretched too thin and that he needed help to make sure that the necessary partnerships with his homeowner clients were being well-maintained.
“There were things getting dropped and I understood the importance of bringing on qualified help to not only focus in on the projects that they were responsible for, but also having them take ownership of the project and making sure that we were always available, because there are times when I’m not,” he explains. “I’m a believer in being accessible and having the homeowners being able to get a hold of us to answer any questions. And those projects need specific guidance. So, one of our philosophies is that each project manager will be over one, to maybe two projects at any given time, and they’ll be taking care of the day-to-day operations; they’ll be getting a lot of face time with the client.”
According to Cloward, not only are his clients very involved in the construction process, unlike they would be in the production homebuilding sector, they’re also wealthier and far less affected by the financial climate currently prevailing in the real estate market. “It’s more of a lifestyle or timing thing – a stage of life where it makes more sense to them to design their own custom home,” he notes. “Interest rates may be high, but, still, my client tells me that, emotionally, this is the time of life where they’re going to build. These homes take six to 12 months to design, and then they take 12-18 months to build. You can be in the custom-home building environment for three years or so. So, trying to time the market doesn’t make sense. Yeah, interest rates are high, but maybe they’ll take money out of their financial investments or whatever makes sense to them. And I’ve been a beneficiary of that.”
Currently, the company has six projects under construction and three more projects under contract. “We have all the work we need to keep our team working,” Cloward reports. “2024 looks great. And we’re looking to take more projects on into 2025. We’ll be doing better if everything plays out than we did in 2023. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed ever since starting in 2008. Every year that I’ve been in business, we’ve increased revenues and that continues to stay true.”
Forward and back
Going forward, Cloward says that he is seriously looking on expanding his company’s market reach: “The Park City area is very much in line with the types of homes that we build and it’s probably an hour away from us. So, it does make sense to not confine ourselves to a restrictive market because there’s a lot of opportunity there. It’s a different type of clientele; a lot of those clients are secondary homebuyers and, traditionally, we’re working with primary home residents. But we definitely are not committed to only staying within our area; it just needs to make sense.”
Looking back, Cloward reveals that he has learned to appreciate the opportunity that’s been given to him to evolve from his beginnings in fine woodworking and cabinetry to the wider environment of the custom home building industry. “It’s allowed me to branch out and touch base with a lot of different professionals,” he says. “I’m not a tradesman anymore; I no longer have the cabinet shop. I’m a general contractor, which is by plan. It’s allowed me to establish a business, create a reputation that I’m very proud of, and to build a business where I now have very qualified, educated, smart, and hardworking partners within. And so, I’ve found myself much more involved, over the last four or five years, in building the team and having a business that will sustain itself.”
“I still have a passion for construction,” Cloward says in conclusion. “I love it. It’s what I know. I love the opportunity to build and to have others to team with. I’m not involved in the day-to-day construction any more, but the building science that I used to be super passionate about has been passed on to my partners on the Raykon team. We’re in it together; we’re growing together; and my passion and drive is to help them be successful.”
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AT A GLANCE
WHAT: A custom home builder
WHERE: Salem, Utah