The man behind the ‘Darol Rodrock difference’

Darol Rodrock, who grew up in the foster care system, has become the largest residential real estate developer in Johnson County.
Darol Rodrock, who grew up in the foster care system, has become the largest residential real estate developer in Johnson County. Submitted photo

Albert Einstein famously said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Fittingly, while sticking to his values, Darol Rodrock has found immense success.

While he’s the largest residential real estate developer in Johnson County, Rodrock never made this impressive accomplishment his lifelong goal. Rather, he started out simply, and one thing led to another, enabling this exceptional man to truly appreciate — and champion — the value of home.

Rodrock grew up in the foster-care system, shuttled from one harsh home to the next. His upbringing far from Pollyanna, he quickly learned that people could be unkind and untrustworthy. Seeing the worst in the human condition, Rodrock promised himself never to replicate such behavior. He also became acutely aware, as only the dispossessed can, of just what makes a true home.

Much of this empathy and careful treatment of people translated into a very successful career as a teacher and wrestling coach.

“I loved teaching and especially loved coaching, and I still keep in touch with a lot of the teachers and wrestlers,” Rodrock recalled. “Those were good times.”

But with a growing family, a teacher’s salary was quickly spent, so Rodrock began dabbling in real estate to provide extra income. “That eventually led to building homes, and it just took off from there,” he said.

Using his insight — both into people and into what makes up a healthy community — Rodrock soon began planning entire neighborhoods. But they weren’t just developments to Rodrock; they were places where families could flourish. He thoughtfully implemented all of this knowledge as a father, teacher, coach and homebuilder into the plans. What he formed were thriving, family-based communities.

Bob Sloan, who takes care of homebuyers in two Rodrock Developments, Grey Oaks and The Greens of Chapel Creek, has been with Rodrock since 1991.

“What I love about working with Darol is that he does such an excellent job as a developer, thanks in part, because he’s worn several hats in his life: school teacher, coach, builder and developer,” Sloan said. “This has made him appreciate all the facets of what makes a great community. His developments are family-friendly; filled with quiet cul-de-sacs, pools and play areas, and all typically have schools adjacent to the community or very close. And he goes the extra mile, including so many nice features, including fountains, wrought-iron fencing and attractive monuments.”

More important, Sloan said, is the value Darol Rodrock offers. “His wise decision-making benefits homeowners. He’s well established and incredibly careful where he invests his name. Value protection is of the utmost importance to Darol.”

This sense of virtue extends beyond homeowners and applies to all with whom Rodrock does business. He takes great care with his relationships and is well known for having some of the longest-held cordial associations found among real estate agents, bankers, homebuilders and more.

Brenda Sanders, president of Rodrock & Associates, Realtors, said she’s seen firsthand how this sense of honesty and respect resonates with families searching for a new home.

“For more than 35 years, homebuyers have heeded the unique Rodrock Development ‘building better communities’ promise,” she said.

Rodrock fulfills this promise in a number of ways, making his communities absolute standouts in the Kansas City area. As soon as streets are placed, Rodrock begins immediate work on the infrastructure and amenities that he knows families want right away. Zero-entry pools, changing cabanas, pergola-covered grills, picnic areas, well-equipped children’s playgrounds and richly appointed clubhouses, complete with workout facilities, are found in many Rodrock communities. Knowing the importance of good schools, Rodrock sets aside ground for the building of award-winning elementary and middle schools.

Another concept that Rodrock created was the unique Rodrock Development Moms Council. An abundance of family-friendly activities are planned thanks to the Council, including spring egg hunts, Memorial weekend pool-opening parties, July 4th bike-a-thons, and pumpkin-carving contests, depending upon the community. In December, families adore the holiday hayride and caroling event, which features huge Belgian draft horses pulling wagons down luminary-lit streets. Rodrock himself admits that his Moms Council motivation is part professional, a lot personal.

“All these gatherings help new neighbors get to know each other and have fun,” Sanders said. “Newcomers tell us all the time that living in a Rodrock Development community is more like living in a small town, where neighbors look out for one another. In today’s fast-paced, electronic world, families are desiring a neighborhood where they can unplug and know their neighbors.”

No one understands that more than Darol Rodrock. In all that he does, he is committed to building communities filled with not just houses, but homes. While Johnson County’s largest residential real estate developer may be decades away from his difficult youth, his knowledge of the value of family and home has not changed. He, more than anyone, knows home is where the heart is.

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