John McGary was born to be a contractor. And after growing up in Wayzata, he was also destined to end up at home in the Lake Minnetonka area.
McGary started learning about the construction industry from his father. His dad, a firefighter by trade, would moonlight on construction jobs (his work schedule as a fireman was ten 24-hour shifts, affording him 20 days off per month to pursue other work or hobbies). In the summer, McGary would tag along with his dad, who specialized in carpentry and electrical work, and help clean tools or perform other small tasks. His dad also had a cabinet shop in his home, and as McGary got older, he picked up on many of the skills his dad had.
After years of helping his father, McGary headed to Colorado Mountain College to study arts and management. It was there that he took an interest in architecture and the building process. “Living in the mountains was an eye-opener in creativity,” McGary says.
At the same time, he snagged a job at an iron and concrete shop in Colorado, and quickly rose through the ranks, learning the business side of the shop along with craftsmanship. As he continued in school, he completed a capstone project that focused on the financial side of home construction. With a better understanding of finances, McGary began looking into starting his own business back home in Minnesota.
He created a business plan before graduating and started a sole proprietorship in 2002, the summer after he finished college. By 2003, his business was incorporated, and Lucid Builders was born.
“When I decided to move back, I knew the western suburbs was the place to start a business,” McGary says. “I had the support of a community, which continued on through all my own life changes like marriage and having kids.”
With roots in the area, his business grew by word of mouth. Now, more than 10 years later, he’s working on projects all over the metro area, but still relishes projects near home.
One of those projects was working on the home of Steven Erickson, a Deephaven City Council member. Erickson and his wife bought a small home in Deephaven in 1992. As their family grew, they knocked the original house down in 1999 and built a home with more space. However, they left the upstairs unfinished to save money. In 2013, now with five kids, the Ericksons were ready to complete their home.
Erickson had met McGary when they worked together on planning and zoning on the Deephaven City Council. When it came time to finish the second story of his home, hiring McGary was a no-brainer. Erickson says he was particularly happy with McGary’s communication during the project, and how willing he was to work together on both budget and design. “He did a great job of listening to what we were trying to accomplish,” Erickson says.
The project was completed in 2014, and the upstairs now has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. In a funny twist, McGary lived down the street from Erickson at the time of construction (he has since moved). “Working with someone who lives down the block and has to live with the work on a day-to-day basis played a role in hiring him,” Erickson says. “We would joke that you can’t live in a community that you do bad work in.”
It’s projects like the one for Erickson that led McGary and Lucid Builders to receive the Builders Association of the Twin Cities’ remodeler of merit award in 2013 and 2014. McGary entered two homes that were certified green for sustainability and won awards for both. “We always try to save as much of existing structures as we can and keep things energy efficient,” McGary says.
“The Lake Minnetonka community affords so many opportunities, and it was the perfect place to settle,” he says.