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Expanding Horizons

Talking with builder Robin Hackney

Gazing out over the horizon gives rise to hope and possibility about what might lie ahead. Local builder ROBIN HACKNEY personifies such hope and possibility, with a positive attitude that reflects in her work at her aptly named Horizon Homes.

Hackney, as one of few women in the Wilmington building industry, is unique in many ways, but she has made her mark with her ability, advocacy, and accessibility. In business with her husband, Deans, Hackney describes her path to building as “roundabout,” learning some tricks of the trade as a retail store owner, real estate agent, and appraiser before jumping head first into building.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Raleigh native went to work “doing a little bit of everything.” Hackney owned a store in Raleigh and became a real estate agent and appraiser; then when Deans moved to Wilmington, she followed and continued doing appraisals while he started doing land development.

Horizon Homes represents a perfect marriage of construction. While Deans Hackney is in charge of land development, Robin Hackney is at the helm of the building and design of each home.

“I’ve always been really creative. I’ve catered and taught cooking classes, so house design just kind of became my thing,” she says. “I don’t know much about land development, and he doesn’t get into the design side. He doesn’t care what goes on the lot, and I know that water runs downhill.”

Originally, they were in partnership with another builder, but “when the downturn came along, partners go away, so we formed Horizon,” Hackney says.

As a part of a family business, Hackney feels she is able to provide personal attention that benefits each of her customers.

“We are not corporate; we are family-owned,” she says. “Having done retail, too, I get a sense of what people want, and I have appraised around 5,000 houses, so I have seen it all.”

Hackney prides herself on her ability to work with each customer to provide individual attention and customized design.

Hackney, a mother of two sons, is used to being the lone woman in her house and often at work; yet, she does not consider being one of the only women in the local building industry a challenge.

“At open house events, people immediately assume Deans is the one who can answer the building questions, and he points to me, and says, ‘You’re talking to the wrong person,’” Hackney explains. “But challenge-wise, from being a woman, I don’t find that.”

Hackney is proud of the leadership roles she embraces including serving as only the second woman ever to chair the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association Parade of Homes planning committee – a role she filled last year.

A strong advocate for the building community, Hackney applauds the homebuilding industry for its contribution to the growth in the Wilmington area.

“Homebuilders provide a huge economic boost, not only for the jobs created from the building industry, but the whole thing, not just building,” says builder Robin Hackney.

Her customers’ enthusiasm is what keeps Hackney excited about building houses.

“I get energized by my customers who are building their forever homes. They have so much energy, and they are so excited about being retired that it keeps me going,” Hackney says.

That energy is what kept her going when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Although she did not reveal her diagnosis or her treatment to her customers, or to very many people at all really, Hackney kept a positive outlook and kept working.

“I didn’t stop. I kept going,” Hackney says.

Hackney feels her experience with breast cancer gives her a unique opportunity to connect with customers who are facing similar battles.

“I’ll say, ‘Look at me – I am living proof that you can get through this,’” she says. “No matter what you do, there’s always going to be problems that come up. I’ve learned to try and let them go and keep going forward. That’s one reason we named (the company) Horizon Homes – keep looking at the horizon and moving forward.”

 

To view more of photographer Katherine Clark's work, go to www.katherineclarkphotography.com.

 

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