For Cummings, success is a journey, not a destination
Local builder Mike Cummings knew that serving his community through local, residential and light construction was a passion he’d develop and use as a driving motivator. He just didn’t know how much he’d miss it once it wasn’t there.
Ever since co-founding Miken Companies in 1986 at the age of 25, Cummings had turned to community involvement through construction.
“When I was young,” he recalled, “I set goals, but they don’t always end up how you originally perceive them. I always admired people who retired young, and I wanted to retire when I was 50. But, as I learned, some people are built for retirement. Some are built for work.” And as Cummings proclaimed, he falls under the latter category.
After taking a one-year hiatus away from Miken Companies, Cummings found solace in Betterliving Patio and Sunroom and Delmarva Daylighting, two home improvement-based companies that could still thrive in a struggling real estate market.
“The businesses complemented each other and what I had done with Miken,” he explained. “They could still serve the economy, based on the fact that people would stay in their homes longer. Betterliving Patio and Sunroom was a 60-year-old, family-owned business that had similarities to the Miken model and commitment to customer service. Delmarva Daylighting brought a handful of green products to a market that any homeowner could afford, whether it be at a beach home or primary residence.”
But even with his new venture, something wasn’t quite right. Cummings didn’t have that same interaction he had before. Stepping further away from the construction aspect of his life left a void that couldn’t be filled.
“The reality of it all is that retirement doesn’t bring happiness and success,” Cumming said of planning and setting goals. “Rather, it depends on your passion and what you love to do. After stepping away for a year, I realized each day how much I missed it.”
In an effort to reconnect with that passion, and maintain the Miken model – centered around being a custom, residential community builder and light commercial construction company – Cummings returned to the company he started a quarter of a century ago.
Many have felt the effect of the drop in today’s economy, and Miken was no exception.
“As far as the state of the economy goes,” he acknowledged, “it’s the worst I’ve seen in 25 years of business, and some older friends of mine say it’s the worst conditions they’ve seen in their lifetime. It has affected all demographics. If someone says they’re doing well in this market, they’re just not being realistic. The last two to three years have been challenging for all businesses, including Miken.”
Despite the blow that the current market has made, Miken is optimistic that an upturn is around the corner.
“It has caused us to rethink our spending habits and the industry we live in,” he said. “Customers know they want things for less and can get things for less. The economy is a cycle, and we’ve got to believe recovery will come at some point.
“We may not know when, but smart businesses and strong businesses will survive, and I believe Miken possesses those qualities. We have downsized our business to adjust to the economy the best we can, in effort to continue to serve our existing clients and future clients the way we always have and intended to.”
With one hand at the helm of Miken Companies, alongside business partner Mike McKone, and his other guiding Betterliving and Delmarva Daylighting, Cummings hopes to bring the companies full-circle, under one roof, by the year’s end.
“The businesses definitely support one another,” he said, “and joining them at the same location will allow us to more easily cross-sell between the different companies. This way, Miken will continue to serve customers, primarily across Sussex County and into Maryland.”
As for his return to Miken Companies, Cummings said he couldn’t be happier.
“I am absolutely tickled to be back,” he said. “I missed working with customers and employees the most. I’m thrilled to be back doing what I do best – being creative and doing what I can to develop a great company.”
Because he was quick to opt for an early retirement the first time, Cummings noted that he will have to examine the thought more closely the next time it arises.
“It’s a plan that I’ll have to rethink in another 10 years,” he said with a smile. “But I have come to believe that happiness is not about money. It’s not about getting to a place you think you should be. It’s doing what you love to do, doing it well and enjoying your time.”
To contact Mike Cummings, call Miken Builders at (302) 537-4444.