– Story by Darcy Nybo Photography by Lia Crowe
Randy Therrien, CEO of Candel Custom Homes calls himself a “corporate magician” and it’s easy to see why. He’s been doing the impossible for over 14 years.
Born in Prince George and raised in the Lower Mainland, Randy moved to the Okanagan in 2004 for work. His father was a developer and homebuilder, which gave Randy exposure to fun “toys” like bobcats and excavators. When he wasn’t at school or playing hockey, he worked with his father.
At 18, Randy started his first company, Pango Developments Ltd., undertaking interior and exterior custom carpentry. At 20, now a Red Seal journeyman carpenter, he dove into the management side of things. He loved it, but stayed active in the actual construction process — something he does to this day.
“Every home Candel Custom Homes builds, I actually have a hand in building,” he said.
Randy’s father started Candel (Canadian Developments) Homes in 1995 and when Randy moved to the Okanagan he joined his father’s business. Randy bought into and ran Candel Homes for eight years while his father focussed on his other company in Phoenix, AZ.
Randy met his wife, Afton, in 2008, the same year Randy took over the business and renamed it Candel Custom Homes. From here, his life really started to change, as he got married and had two children, Olivia, now seven, and Beckham, five. Business has been busy too, and in the past 11 years he’s been a part of over 75 custom home builds.
Randy and his family love living in the Okanagan.
“It is a true four-season place to live. I love the dry, hot summers and the snow in winter,” he said. “There’s a ton of great golf here. The ski hills are good and there are three great lakes within an hour of here. The wineries are great too. We bought a travel trailer and we actually started camping this year.”
When he’s not exploring and enjoying the Okanagan lifestyle, Randy and his family keep pretty busy.
“My son is in hockey and I’m coaching him. The improvements you see at such a young age are incredible. When he started, they couldn’t even skate and now they’re whipping around. It only took three months to turn them into miniature hockey players, skating and passing the puck.”
Randy also takes part in other sports with his kids.
“Their little minds are such sponges and their energy levels far surpass ours,” he laughed. “Both our kids play soccer in spring and fall, so I try to attend as much as possible. Thankfully it’s very close to the office so I get out quite a bit. My daughter is in dance too and it is so different than sports. I drop her off and pick her up and I never get to see what she’s doing until the recital. My daughter also loves watching figure skating. My wife was a figure skater for years, so there’s a good chance she’ll get into that.”
Raising a family and being the CEO of a custom home building company keeps him busy; however, Randy still finds time to give back to the community.
“There’s a father/daughter dance every year here in Kelowna and Candel Custom Homes is a big sponsor for that,” he said. “Black Mountain Elementary School did a fundraiser for their playground last year and we made a fairly large donation to them. Our kids are there and their friends are there, and it makes it a better school for the kids,” he said, adding, “If you have the capability to help out, you should do it.”
Randy’s ability to pay attention detail is what makes him such a great builder.
“I went from being an owner/operator, hands-on the tools everyday, to sitting at my desk a lot. I prefer to be out dealing with the trades and being out on the site. My favourite part is meeting with clients and building relationships. I love to learn about their lifestyles, their habits and what they enjoy. I need to get inside their heads. You go from being strangers to being in an almost mini-marriage-like relationship. Throughout the process, we usually meet weekly and then when the home is complete, I only get to see them now and then. I’m a bit sad when a build is complete, but then I get busy with new clients and new relationships, and I focus on building to suit them.”
Randy said the best part of his job is working with out-of-town clients. Not because he doesn’t see them as often, but because he loves the look on their faces when they walk through their finished home for the first time.
“Out-of-town clients don’t see the daily progress. They get that wow factor when they walk in the door.”
He smiled and added: “I’ve always said that for my next house, I’d get someone else to build it for me. I want to go away for a year and come back and be wowed!”
Asked about his favourite project, Randy doesn’t hesitate: “It was a lakefront build on Green Bay on the west side. We had to demo the old house and there were tons of challenges working on the lake, including lots of restraints and engineering nightmares. I thrived on the challenges because I had such a great team to help me with it. That job could have gone wrong in so many ways. Thankfully the clients were amazing to work with. Near the end of the build, I ended up working on the design directly with the clients. The communication was awesome.”
Randy has a fairly relaxed approach to growing his business.
“I have never had another type of job in my entire life. But I couldn’t have told you l would be where I am now 10 years ago. I’m not one to set a five-year or 10-year goal because this business moves quickly with the economy. You can’t dictate what your business does — the market and the buyers do. You have to be very chameleon-like and be able to adjust quickly to changing trends and markets.”
As the business grew, Randy discovered he loves both the design/build side and the development side of real estate.
“Villas at the Highland in Lake Country is our latest project, which launches in early 2019. I love [development] because it is challenging. It’s a bit of a gamble. If you don’t purchase the land at the right price, or hit the right price point, the market won’t accept you. It’s riskier than doing custom builds, but the rewards are greater. As I was growing up, that’s what I watched my dad do, and now I’m doing the same.”
For those interested in getting into the building business, Randy had these words of advice: “Get a job with a company that is well-established to learn from. You don’t want to start your own business and learn it on your own. It’s too costly. If you don’t have mentorship or you don’t work your way up through a company, I don’t think you can succeed, even with a ton of money. Quite simply, what you need to do is learn as much as possible, then find people who do things that you can’t do and surround yourself with them.”
Randy has done just that and the result is a thriving business that feeds his passion for creating great homes and communities in the Okanagan.