Crowded into a 1,000-sq.-ft. home with their three children, Ryan
, Damon and Carlee, Del and Caryl wanted something bigger.
"I still remember climbing on the roof and holding the cedar shakes for my mom," says Ryan
, who was then 12 years old.
When the family's original home sold before the new one was completed, the Ockeys carried on building their new home, living in an RV in the backyard.
"We actually lived in the backyard for four months, so that was exciting," Ryan
"We worked on the house at night."
About a month from completion, a friend of the family liked the Ockey's new home so much he
asked if they could build a house for him - a project that quickly snowballed as other people expressed interest in what the Ockeys were building.
says it is the same attention to detail, style and design invested in their first house that has taken Cardel Homes
to where it is today.
"That is very important, staying true to those roots," he
"It's in those subtle, little things that we do that makes our houses different."
But it wasn't always easy, at one point Ryan
remembers Del telling the family they were six months from going bankrupt.
"I remember those lessons and one of our strategies was to diversify from the Calgary market," he
This led to Cardel expanding to Ottawa in 1996, building in a Genstar Developments community.
"It was very enjoyable to start up something from scratch in a new city and to learn a new market," Ryan
In 1998, also with Genstar
, Cardel Homes
started building in Tampa, Fla. and then in 2003 moved into Denver, Colo. with Brookfield Residential
Today, Cardel Homes
remains strong in all four cities.
"I am very proud of the things that I have accomplished and that our family has accomplished together," Ryan
With Del and Caryl now retired, Ryan as president is joined by his brother Damon, who heads up Cardel's marketing department, and his interior decorator sister Carlee and her husband Rob Revoy, vice-president of sales and marketing in Florida.
"It's pretty fun," Ryan
says of working so closely with family.
"We get along pretty good and everything is pretty smooth."
And of the legacy his
parents created, Ryan
says they are pretty amazed.
A lot has changed for Cardel Homes
since the days it was just a family of five building a home to live in.
"Today we have 150 people (working with Cardel Homes) and they are amazing at what they do.
When you can get amazing, dedicated people that can do the job better than you can do it yourself, that's a recipe for success," Ryan
"(Del) had a friend of his who at about three-quarters of the way through this home building process said: 'Gee, I really like what you're doing - would you build one for me, too?," says Ryan Ockey, son of Caryl and Del and CEO of Cardel Group of Companies.
From there, requests for their homes continued until the Ockeys were faced with a decision: go back to teaching or stick to building homes.
is now in its 40th year.
Ryan Ockey, CEO of the Cardel Group of Companies.
is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
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"It was an interesting family thing because back then we did a lot of the work ourselves," says Ryan
"I was 13 years old at the time, so I remember holding the soldering torch for my dad while he
soldered the plumbing pipes - and I remember being with my mom hammering in the nails on the cedar shakes on the roof."
started off doing three to five big custom homes per year.
But after the crash caused by the federal National Energy Program in the early '80s, Cardel Homes
switched to smaller, more affordable homes, which was the market at the time, says Ockey
builder took its expertise on the road in the mid-'90s, expanding to three new cities.
It started with a new office in Ottawa and later expanded to Tampa, Fla., and Denver, Colo.Ockey says the move to Ottawa came following advice from development partner, Genstar Development Co.
, which master-plans communities across Canada.
At the time, many Ottawa builders didn't use sales offices or decorate their model homes.
"In six months, we sold 40 homes," says Ockey of Cardel Homes' first step into the nation's capital, which at the time was a hot spot for growth thanks to its burgeoning technology market.
Their son Damon
is corporate marketing director - and as previously mentioned, their son Ryan
"We did it because we thought it was the right thing to do," says Ockey