Rodney Kincaid’s life’s work started with a simple toy. He remembers getting his childhood favorite vividly, a round tube about two feet tall, he said, demonstrating the shape with his hands. It was a box full of little sticks and round connectors – Tinker Toys – that he’d play with for hours and hours.
“It started at about 6-years-old, when I realized I loved to build things,” Kincaid said. “Mother would say to me, ‘If you don’t get off the floor and quit messing around with those Tinker Toys, you’re not going to have any dinner.’”
And the Orlando native hasn’t stopped building since. As a teen, he built a radio that picked up the only station in town, WDBO. He built prize-winning woodworks. In college, he knew he needed to follow his passion, and graduated with a degree in building and construction in 1958 from the University of Florida. His plan was to work for construction companies for five years after graduating, and then start his own business.
And he did just that. In 1963, he went home and told his wife he’d quit his job. She asked what his new one was going to be, and he said he was going to have to make one for himself.
“I look back and I wonder what in the world was I thinking, but I was young and ambitious and devil-care, free and just said that’s what I want to do,” Kincaid said.
So he started Kincaid Construction, and 50 years later at 81-years-old, he’s still at the helm. His company, based in Winter Park, has built churches, schools and office buildings. They did work on the Edyth Bush Civic Theatre and were in charge of building the intricate marble entrance gates for Rollins College. Many clients, including Rollins College, return to his contracting business again and again with new projects. Kincaid said that the relationships he builds are what keep them coming back. When he tells stories about clients, it almost always ends with him saying how they’re now good friends, or they have lunch to catch up every couple months.
To learn more about Rodney Kincaid, Kincaid Construction and to see examples of the company’s work, visit kincaidconstruction.com
His clients said it’s not just his friendliness, but his business ethics that they find unique in his industry.
“I trust him; he’s a good man,” said Steve Miller, whose family business Miller’s Hardware has hired Kincaid for generations. “You have to be fair with people, you have to be upright, forthright, and he is.”
“He’s one of the most trustworthy businessmen I know,” said Paul Wright, pastor of the Calvary Temple of Praise in Sanford that Kincaid did an expansion on.
He’s someone who’s always on your side, said Don Duer, an architect who’s worked on many projects with Kincaid. And a contractor who really cares about the architect’s vision is hard to find, but Kincaid gets it, because he shares that passion of taking nothing and turning it into something, Duer said.
“You go out on a job site and there’s all this sand and it’s dirty looking, but you see this pile of sand, you see this pallet of brick, you see this pile of lumber, and you look at that stuff and it really doesn’t have any meaning or any shape or any form, and then you realize that all of that goes in, and all of a sudden you’re creating a lovely building that people can live in or worship in or their office is in, and it’s beautiful,” Kincaid said. “And you think with pride that you created this, and that’s a special feeling.”
One of Kincaid’s favorite memories was the moment the steeple of Morrison United Methodist Church in Leesburg was placed on the church his company built. He decided he’d like to watch the crane lift the massive pieces up to complete their work. Apparently, so did everyone else in the town. Police cars had barricaded the road, and a crowd gathered to see the stately columned church get its finishing touch. It’s something he’ll never forget.
In 50 years, Kincaid has acquired many stories, from the fun of rebuilding the former Winter Park speakeasy Harper’s Tavern — now Cask & Larder — to the frustrating time that, unbeknownst to him, an evening Winter Park train was the culprit in crumbling a building’s cement when they left work for the day, three times. He laughs about both now, and doesn’t want to stop making memories. He plans to grow back the business from the recession’s damage over the next five years, and hire talented people to take over when he finally retires. He’s determined to not just sit in front of the television, bothering his wife and shriveling up, he said as he smiled.
“I’m going to go out with a boom.”