Sometimes we just don’t know what prompts a family to move great distances. It might be for financial gain, perhaps a mere change of scenery or in the case of the Stearns family a window of opportunity. Over 100 years ago a young Earnest Stearns with his wife moved from the sleepy hamlet of Forestville New York to an ocean side city dubbed, “The world’s Most Famous Beach”, Daytona Beach, Florida. The building and financial boom of the early 1900’s in Florida gave many a young man a glimpse at prosperity and the hope of wealth. So, Earnest began building homes around Daytona beach. A mason by trade Earnest made his own block by hand. Clearing away saw palmetto and digging down to the pure white sands Earnest was able to provide much of the raw material he needed and indeed built the very first motel on Ridgewood Avenue in Daytona.
Years later Earnest’s son Robert expanded on his father’s business after coming home from World War II. Robert’s forte was terrazzo tile and he built a business spanning 43 years, Stearns Tile and Carpet. Robert’s son Scott also began his career by working at his dad’s business, but by the mid 70’s young Scott tired of the busy ocean side city and wanted to go off on his own.
Needing a change of scenery Scott took up his girlfriend’s brother’s offer of a job and traveled across the state to Southwest Florida’s barrier island Useppa. There he found employment with Useppa Inn and Dock Company and learned multiple skills such as carpentry, electrical wiring and plumbing. A short time later Scott returned to Daytona and married his high school sweetheart Elsie and told her “I have found paradise.” Scott and his new bride settled in on Useppa.
In early 1980 Scott and Elsie decided to make a permanent residence on Pine Island after tiring of the constant commute for everyday essentials and accommodate their growing family. Scott found work building homes on Upper Captiva and doing remodeling projects on Pine Island. He spent the next 25 years perfecting his craftsmanship. He had built a reputation as a bit of a perfectionist and his company, R.S. Stearns Carpentry was in high demand.
After graduation Derrick moved to Orlando to attend The University of Central Florida, it was during this time that the idea of expanding upon his dad’s company began to intrigue Derrick. Scott encouraged his son to finish college and get his contractor’s license. Derrick went on to change his major to Business and took finance and real estate classes. He graduated in 2004 and came back home to Pine Island.
R.S. Stearns Carpentry changed names and through the vision of the family Stearns Custom Builders, Inc. became a reality. Scott brought expertise and craftmanship to the table, Darsey brought office insight and organizational skills, Elsie brought her knowledge and contacts within the financial community and Derrick brought his forward thinking combined with a knowledge of carpentry and a deep desire to expand on his father’s business.
Today, Stearns Custom Builders, Inc. is the premier custom home builder on Pine Island. They’re homes are easily recognized by the craftsmanship and details that go into every home they build, whether that be a small island cottage or a large waterfront estate. They are proud of the reputation their family name carries. For four generations a Stearns father has passed on his craft to his child and each child has added to that legacy. Darsey has 3 daughters and when asked if she thought one of them would pick up a tool belt she smiled and said, “You just never know. Maybe!” Derrick also has children, a son and a daughter. Both stated they would “really love to see our company carry on through our children.”
It was in those early years on Useppa that a friendship would be forged that most certainly will last a lifetime. Young Elsie made friends with a young artist named Mel Meo. Mel Meo helped Elsie adjust to island living as living on Useppa was not without its difficulties.
Along the way Scott and Elsie had two children, Darsey and Derrick. Once the children reached school age Elsie began a career in the banking business. Darsey upon graduation went into office work, working as a secretary to a title company and Derrick really had no desire to follow in his dad’s steps but rather had dreams on being a motocross racer. When asked why that had not come to fruition he replied, “Many, many injuries.”
Stearns Custom Builders
5400 Pine Island Road, Suite B
Bokeelia, FL 33922
239.283.5597 · FL Lic. CGC1515057