From Dreams to Miracles
Blazer Development Builds Dreams for the Good Life and to Save Life
By Jim Pasero

Ray Derby and Rick Lesniak own Blazer Development, one of the area’s leading custom homebuilders. They’ve been business partners for almost a decade and their enthusiasm for the business shows the minute they talk about the industry and especially this year’s Street of Dreams homes.

Why the interest in building custom homes instead of cranking out homes in quantity? Because, says Lensiak, “We start out with just a piece of paper, and you end up with a Street of Dreams home.”

Derby and Lesniak build between six and eight custom homes each year, and along the way they get to know their clients well. Helping their customers work through the tremendous number of choices that go into a custom home is just one of many areas of specialization. “We don’t detail our houses; the client doesn’t have choices already made,” says Lesniak.

The most challenging clients, according to Derby and Lesniak, are those who can’t commit the time to making the choices involved in a custom home. But even when homeowners are working and can only commit some of their time, the home will turn out right. For Derby and Lesniak, part of their commitment to excellence includes meeting weekly with clients. The many personal choices a homeowner has to make can be tough. Derby and Lesniak acknowledge that getting to know their clients well often means seeing them through some personal moments. “There’s definitely a marriage counselor” aspect to the job, says Derby.

But it’s that personal touch that makes a dream home. “Every hour the house takes on its own personality,” says Lesniak. “It makes it fun.”

Blazer Development has been building Street of Dreams homes for 15 years. But this year Blazer Development isn’t building just one home on the “Street,” they are building two, The Hideaway and The Miracle House. Both homes will feature the latest trends in custom home design: Great rooms in place of living rooms; home theater screens that drop from the ceiling; heated outdoor living areas equipped with entertainment features; party rooms above the garages—all designed with a mix of Northwest contemporary and European styles.

Lesniak says buyers want their great rooms to be adaptable for both comfort and high style—“to be comfortable and casual, but also to be versatile enough to have a tuxedo feeling.”

But why two homes in this year’s Street of Dreams?

Both Derby and Lesniak are longtime members of the Kruse Way Rotary Club, and their association with Doernbecher Children’s Hospital began through the civic group. “You would be surprised how many people, whether it is because of a nephew or a cousin or any child, hold a soft spot in their hearts for that hospital,” says Lesniak That soft spot is why all the profits for Blazer Development’s Miracle House will go to Doernbecher. It is also why suppliers have stepped up and donated so many of the materials used in the home. For instance, Milgard Windows has contributed more than $60,000 in windows, and Mann’s Manufacturing, a fine cabinetmaker, has donated two cabinets from their new product line valued at $1,500—quite a donation for a small, but high-end local company with just four employees.

Because of the generosity of Blazer Development’s suppliers, and because of the vision of Derby and Lesniak, the builders estimate that Doernbecher Children’s Hospital may receive as much as $200,000 as a charitable donation.

Building The Miracle House… every day these builders, craftsmen, suppliers, all who have participated… they are truly building the dream.

BrainstormNW - July 2004

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