For Tawnia DuVall, the Accounting Supervisor for Rob Rice and his related companies, her life and priorities are all about her family and the job she enjoys.
Tawnia has had a first-hand view not only of new home builder, Rob Rice’s dedication to building superior homes, but of his loyalty to the employees and partners that share his commitment to efficiency and excellence.
Since joining the local builder’s support team, much of Tawnia’s family are now woven into the fabric of our local community here in Thurston County, many with ties to real estate and often, to her employer, the area’s largest home builder.
A Local Family Map
Tawnia and her husband of 30 years, Guy, currently a broker with John L Scott Real Estate, are surrounded by a flourishing family and have jobs they truly love.
Guy had framed houses for 25 years. For 15 of those years, he framed for Rob Rice, starting soon after Tawnia began working for the company. That was until two years ago when he launched a successful career as a Realtor®. In a short time, Guy has received several awards for his work and last year was recognized with the John L. Scott President’s Award.
“Guy went from building Rob Rice Homes to selling Rob Rice Homes,” Tawnia shares. “It makes it nice for his clients who are looking for new construction because he truly does know the quality work that goes into building a Rob Rice Home.”
The couple’s eldest son, Alan, works in IT for the state’s Department of Corrections. Alan’s wife, Ashley DuVall and her mom Cheri Wilkins are a successful Realtor® team with Van Dorm Realty in Olympia, WA.
“Cheri and Ashley loves Rob’s houses,” says Tawnia. “Cheri has sold them for years.”
Alan and Ashley have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who is clearly the apple of Tawnia’s eye.
“Brooklyn is everything to me,” says the busy grandmother. “We have a thing going with taking ‘selfies’. Her Mom has made a whole book of them for us.”
Tawnia’s youngest son, Dillon, is a Dr. of Physical Therapy who just started in his first position in Portland. Dillon’s fiancé, Kara, is currently studying to be an eye doctor.
Tawnia’s sister is a sub-contractor that does new home cleaning for several Rob Rice Communities. And, Tawnia’s family was even involved in real estate as one of the original printers of MLS books and, for years, owned several real estate advertising magazines.
Tawnia’s grandparents, who now “motorhome”, live with Guy and Tawnia for six months out of the year and Tawnia couldn’t be any happier about it.
The Road to Working for Rob Rice
Tawnia was raised in Seattle and met Guy while he was stationed at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord). At one time, they both worked in the building industry in Florida but moved to Idaho to follow job opportunities when building slowed in the mid 90s, eventually settling here in the area. A stay-at-home Mom till her boys were school age, she began studies at South Puget Sound Community College in accounting, a true interest and passion.
“I took everything I could in accounting,” Tawnia says. “I was particularly interested in the investigative, forensic side of it.”
Her studies served her well as she began working for a small accounting firm and at nights auditing for H&R Block. She looked for more long-term opportunities and soon applied to work for Gemini Corporation, a job she felt was a fit.
Today, 17 years after being hired, she is still there doing many critical jobs that involve cost accounting, accounts payable, payroll and human resources for 14 companies currently owned by the Best of South Sound new home builder, Rob Rice.
“I love accounting, so I love everything about my job,” Tawnia says. “It is challenging because it involves 120 rental properties and Rob’s many new homes communities. There are typically hundreds of homes being built and lots being prepared. That means thousands of invoices come through this office, from our vendors, sub-contractors and anyone building or providing a home’s components. I make sure it is all balanced, write the checks and answer to Rob if there are problems.”
Builder Efficiency and Loyalty
As someone who has experienced several jobs in finance and accounting, Tawnia appreciates Rob’s unique hands-on approach.
“Sometimes companies have a hard time financially, making it stressful trying to figure out how to pay employees, often when owners aren’t sure of where their money is going. I have never felt like that working here. Rob has a very active role in the finances, and he pays and keeps his sub-contractors busy, many who have been with him 25 years or more.”
Ultimately, Rob’s efficiency and involvement contribute to the high quality and relative affordability of the upscale homes he builds, homes with superior construction and high-end features.
“It keeps costs down because they plan and budget for each home,” explains Tawnia. “Our building superintendents go through each and every invoice, look it over, make sure the costs are what they are supposed to be. I often hear others talk about a project that went over this much or that much, as if it is normal. Those, I believe, are choices. Rob cares about efficiency and staying within budget like the homeowners who have worked and saved all their lives for one of his homes.”
Tawnia explains that Rob’s loyalty to his employees and partners has been a true comfort to the family she cherishes.
“Rob was steady through the recession and kept a lot of people working. He wanted to make sure his people were working during the housing downturn when so many in the trades were laid off. It was a big deal for me because my husband was working for him during that time and he kept Guy busy. A lot of his contractors felt the same way.”
For that and many reasons, Tawnia has worked at the local office on State Street for 17 years.
“The loyalty here is just a huge thing in my book. You take care of the people that are good to you. It is one of the best parts of working here. It is definitely like a family, which I appreciate immensely, but we work hard and it is all business most of the time. With the large volume of homes and the quality of work Rob does, there is not a lot of time to ‘mess around’.”
More about new home builder, Rob Rice at www.robricehomes.com
Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013, 2014 and 2015. He has built more than 3000 homes over the last 30 years. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons; Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.