Kory Robison began his career in the building industry by picking up after construction crews working for his father’s business. Now, as President and Owner of Orem, Utah-based Robison Home Builders, he’s running the gamut of Utah home building with unique and eye-catching entries in the annual Utah Valley Parade of Homes.
The high-end showcase event helped to put Robison Home Builders on the map after winning consecutive awards, and this year, Robison hopes to keep his legacy alive with a showstopping custom build that will welcome over 20,000 visitors through its doors starting June 9.
When did you first get your start in home building? Did you always know that you would take over your father’s business?
My dad started the company back in 1980, so I really grew up in the industry. As a young kid, I was always around the construction site and then I went to college for construction management. In 2014, I started framing houses, and then by 2018, I was running jobs as a partner in the company. More recently, as of January 2022, I became 70% owner of Robinson Home Builders with my dad still being a minority partner as well.
I think deep down I always knew I’d eventually play a big role in the company. As a young kid and even through high school, I tried to tell myself I wouldn't take it over because the only experience I had of construction at that time was just being the clean-up guy. But as I got into college and saw that it was a great profession for my dad, I realized it was a career path I wanted to take. I love to work with my hands and be outside and build cool stuff and that’s really the essence of what I do.
Since coming on board, you’ve had a lot of success in the Utah Valley Parade of Homes. Can you explain what that event is and when it takes place?
The parade is here in a small area called Utah County. It’s very good advertising and good business for builders who have the opportunity to enter a home into the parade. Homes can be specs or they can be pre-sold. All those that I've ever put in, including this year’s project, are pre-sold. The actual event is a three-week process that starts June 9 and goes through June 25, and it's open every day to the public besides Mondays and Sundays. Anyone can buy a ticket and walk through these homes to take a look at the work that our regional builders are doing. This year’s event will include about 30 homes from around the county.
About a month after the parade, we have a big award ceremony that reveals the People’s Choice, which is selected by anyone who buys a ticket and walks through the houses, as well as Best Kitchen and Best Landscape, among others. The award everyone wants is Best in Show.
Tell me about your entry in this year’s Parade of Homes.
It's in Alpine, Utah and it's about 10,000 square feet. The homeowners actually lived on the property before we started and they tore down their existing home, so we started fresh with a brand new home and a new build. It's a really cool house because it's a little bit modern and a little bit traditional. It takes influence from every style and meshes them into one, so there are a lot of cool elements you don't see in your everyday home.
What makes the projects in the Utah Parade of Homes so unique? How are they pushing the envelope of home building?
I can't speak for other builders, but for me, whenever I do a parade home, I want to do a home that has a major ‘wow’ factor because that's what helps me stand out from other builders. There are over 20,000 people who walk through these homes, and some of those people are looking for builders. They base their decisions off of the work they see in the Parade of Homes. I put my best foot forward to produce the best quality and craftsmanship that I can think of, but more than that, it's also about putting new and unique products out there that really catch people's attention.
How have events like the Parade of Homes helped with Robison Home Builders' exposure in the past several years? Why do you think that these competitions and showcasing opportunities are important for local builders?
I think the Parade of Homes has been the number one reason my company has grown so much in the last five years. We've had five homes in a row that were really just showstoppers. Everyone just loved them because they were so unique. They're not what the next guy is building, and I think people have really been able to see that we like to think outside the box. I like to build unique, custom homes, not just the typical everyday home that the neighbor next door has, and the Parade of Homes lets me showcase that individuality.
You mentioned that you’ve won consecutive awards over the past several years to push Robison Home Builders to the top of the line when it comes to Utah home building, so what do you attribute to that success and how do you hope to maintain that legacy?
I've told myself and my employees that as much as our company grows, we cannot lose the values that have stood us apart, especially when it comes to our attention to detail and our craftsmanship. If we start noticing that the attention to detail and craftsmanship is lacking, then we need to scale back. We have to balance a very fine line of keeping up projects and having enough work to be able to be onsite while paying close attention to the body of work that's going on in the homes.
This year’s event is taking place in a bit of a rocky moment for homebuyers who are facing an unprecedented series of hurdles. What message do you hope to convey to them and what is the takeaway from this event for the industry at large?
This year has absolutely been very challenging, especially with interest rates rising. People are being much more conservative about building homes, so I would say, you can still build a house in this economy, but it has to be done more effectively than in years past. This is a gateway to that opportunity and it shows that we as builders are still up and running. The industry is pushing forward.