After a stint with a rival builder in Atlanta, Rademacher in September joined Palm Beach Gardens-based Kolter Homes as president.

Robert Rademacher’s varied career has included everything from running a jackhammer to selling new homes to serving as mayor of a small city.

In recent years, he helped Kolter Homes launch its brand of Cresswind communities for buyers older than 55 — a position that has made him an expert in pickleball and Eagles cover bands.

After a stint with a rival builder in Atlanta, Rademacher in September joined Palm Beach Gardens-based Kolter Homes as president.

About your company: Kolter Homes is a developer and builder of communities in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. One of our projects, Alton in Palm Beach Gardens, is filling up quickly. There’s retail there now, so it has that walkability feel. Cresswind is our active-adult resort. We have Cresswind communities in Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, Charleston, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach and now Westlake in Palm Beach County.

Hometown: I’m from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, a suburb of Cincinnati. Now I live in Palm Beach Gardens

First job: I worked my way through school in construction. I basically ran a jackhammer. After college, I sold for A.H. Robins, the pharmaceuticals company. They developed Robitussin, but I started in the pet division. From there, I went on to Bausch & Lomb. When I was 28, I became mayor of the small city of Edgewood, Kentucky. It was only 10,000 people, but it was still a lot of responsibility, and I learned a lot about how the world works.

Biggest challenge: Understanding where the markets are going, and determining what the future needs of the active adults are. Homebuilding is a difficult business. Some 300 people are needed to assemble a house. They all need to show up on time, and in the right order. The talent pool is a little lower than it used to be.

How you market to over-55 buyers: You really have to understand a lot of things about that buyer. You have to know what those buyers want. It’s not just having a party once a month. It’s all the little things — coffee in the morning, organizing clubs, having a lifestyle that is consistent across the brand. People in these communities have a lot of living left to do. It’s not like yesteryear, when you sat on a rocking chair on the front porch They’re always on the move. They’re playing pickleball one minute and golf the next. They’re going to dinner and concerts at night. We’ve got cover bands that travel to do shows at the different Cresswinds. There’s an Eagles cover band, a Rollling Stones cover band. These are not backyard bands; they are very experienced artists. You’ll listen to them and say, “Is that The Eagles?”

Hot amenity: We just put in 37 pickleball courts at Verano in Port St. Lucie. We’re building 40 pickleball courts at a Cresswind in Atlanta. As that sport grows, we’re growing right along with it. It’s kind of between pingpong and tennis. There’s less chance of injury than tennis, but it’s more active than pingpong. And it’s very fun. Two pickleball courts cost about as much as one tennis court. Doing it right isn’t easy — you have to have shade, landscaping, viewing areas, parking.

Best business book you’ve read: Technical Selling Skills. It’s an old book. The premise is there are very few people who can say yes but a lot of people who can say no. You wouldn’t think that’s the case in a home sale, but there are a lot of people who can come in and say no, such as the children.

Biggest mistake you’ve made in business: Early in my career, I was selling options for homes along with selling the house. I was very happy that I was selling lots of icemakers. I thought I was a making a really good margin for the company until I realized the plumber charged $230 to put a drain in. It turned out the company was losing money every time I sold an icemaker. The mistakes I’ve made in the past I’ve made because I didn’t gather enough data and information before making a big decision. Rushed decisions are the nemesis of our business.

Most important trait you look for when hiring: When I’m hiring a manager, I’m looking for people who will inspire other people. I’m usually looking for someone who really loves their job because they want to see people around them in their careers. You can take a smart person with that attitude and accomplish anything.


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