“I wanna do everything you do, so I’ve been watching you.” – Rodney Atkins
There’s a special bond between little boys and their dads. From campouts and fishing trips, to little league games, trips to Kyle Field together and helping around the house, there’s a special sense of aspiration. They want to be just like their dads, and they’re always watching.
For Southwest Homes Superintendent, Caleb LaFollette, who grew up going to “help” at numerous home construction sites with his father, Southwest Homes owner, Jason LaFollette, he thought that his dad was the coolest of them all.
“I grew up going to the jobsites and following my dad around, and back then, he used to do most of the projects himself, which I thought was awesome. He could do everything,” Caleb said. “I wanted to be just like my dad, and whatever he did, I thought it was cool. I guess something just stuck.”
Sometimes it’s just in your blood.
From the time he was a toddler crawling around the house with his play tool belt and power tools, Caleb loved building anything he could get his hands on, practicing his construction skills almost before he could talk.
Jason said he saw the passion in Caleb’s eyes as a kid, and hoped that his son would one day follow in the family business, and it didn’t take long to come to fruition.
Before he could even drive a car, and while other kids were sitting at home playing video games, Caleb began learning his craft.
“By the time Caleb was 12 years old he was helping my brother and I frame houses, and he loved turning a stack of wood into a house,” Jason said. “When he turned 18, I decided it was time to put his knowledge and experience to the test and I gave him the opportunity to build his first house from the ground up and he did an outstanding job.”
So much so, one of his recent homeowners raves about Caleb by name as one of the best parts of her experience when working with Southwest Homes. Jeanie Grant and her husband built their home in Aggieland while living in Idaho, which was an experience they were very uneasy about.
“We had prepared ourselves for the process to be a nightmare since we were so far away, but it honestly caused us no aggravations at all,” said Grant. “It turned out to be more of a bonding opportunity than anything. The entire team, and Caleb especially, made it so easy and stress free. If we had known how smooth it would go, we would have built the home years ago.”
Now Caleb serves as the primary construction superintendent for virtually all of Southwest Homes custom home projects, which gives him a front row seat to do what he loves.
“As a custom builder it’s an incredible opportunity because you get to watch all of the little details come to life in each home that we build, and you have a chance to create something different every time,” he said. “We’re working on a house now that is a farmhouse with shiplap walls and a rustic barn tin ceiling, and that’s a first for me. It’s awesome to see your work come together after each unique project.”
Jason said that the opportunity to work side-by-side with his oldest son is something that he always dreamed about, but never made those dreams known.
“I never wanted Caleb to follow me into business for any other reason than it was something he was passionate about,” Jason said.
Caleb recently added “fiance” to his titles as well, after proposing to his girlfriend, Abby Gilliland. The two are now planning their big day, but Caleb knows that isn’t the only thing that the long-time girlfriend of a young home builder has in mind.
“I think she’s already got our first house built in her head after seeing so many of our projects over the last few years,” Caleb joked, “so I’m sure that one day my wife will end up being my most challenging customer to please.”
But according to Jason, he’ll be just fine in his new role as a husband as well.
“Seeing him grow up and become the man that he has already turned into has been one of my life’s richest rewards,” Jason said. “It is an honor and a privilege to have him on our team because he is one of the finest men I know.”