Ethan Scott has never been afraid of hard work and putting in the extra effort required to complete a project has never intimidated him.
The native of Biddeford has combined his love of architecture with higher education and a tireless work ethic to make his dream of creating a successful business become a reality.
A 2008 graduate of Biddeford High School, Scott went on to earn a master’s degree in architecture at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Massachusetts. In 2013, while working at a desk job at an architectural firm in Boston, he met Katherine Robbins, a NeuroPsych major who was unhappy with her job at a mental health facility.
They fell in love and tapping into his knowledge of construction and her love of interior design, a partnership was formed called Peak Design & Development, LLC that is one of the hottest house flipping, architectural consulting and real estate companies in the Boston area and in New England. In a few short years of operation, their reputation has led to talks with HGTV about a potential television series about their business.
“I grew up in the construction industry and developed an appreciation for the process of developing architecture. It was the concept that we can come up with an idea (the design) and craft that into the places that we live, work, worship, dine, etc. that really caught me,” Scott said. “I loved getting my hands dirty and learn the process of putting the building together, but I wanted to learn how to create these spaces for myself. When a contractor builds a space, they are constructing someone else’s vision. I wanted to develop those visions on my own.”
After launching their business in 2015, the couple has now worked on dozens of projects throughout New England. Their main business is flipping houses which they buy under market value, fix them up and then sell for a profit. Scott performs the general contracting and architectural design, while Robbins is a licensed real estate agent and interior designer.
“We have worked on projects ranging from new construction homes, to 1700s colonials, to large-scale commercial buildings like the mixed martial arts facility currently being constructed in Saco,” Scott said. “My team has the knowledge and experience to develop a wide range of projects in the construction industry.”
Peak Design and Development’s business plan includes house flipping, general contracting, real estate services, architectural design services, 3-D design renderings, home staging and interior design work. The “PEAK” name is short for Properties by Ethan And Katherine.
Scott said that he decided upon his career path very early while attending Biddeford High.
“I selected a range of classes that would help develop the skills needed to become an architect,” he said. “Math and science classes were a must, and I dedicated a lot of my efforts to those. I took inspiration from graphic design classes with Steve Larrivee and photography classes with Dan Roberge. But I think the most important aspect of my post-secondary education prep came from the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology.”
He said that the COT allows students to get an education while supplying them with real world tasks and problems.
“The drafting classes I took with Ed Driscoll there gave me quite a big leg up on my peers in college. A majority of them had never used Computer Aided Design before walking through the doors at Wentworth, and with Mr. Driscoll we were designing entire three-dimensional models by the time I was 17. I can’t say enough positive things about the implementation of the Regional Center of Technology in regular high school coursework. I hope that more students will take advantage of that valuable resource.”
The couple says that without a doubt the toughest project they’ve worked on was their first flip.
“We emptied our bank accounts, our life savings, and bought a house that needed everything replaced,” they said. “And when we say everything, we mean everything, including half of the studs.”
Having quit what they thought were their dream jobs, they had given up their salaries, job benefits and comfortable warm offices to take a chance of being their own boss.
“When I left the office at 5 p.m., my work was done and I could enjoy free time. Then, I took a leap. I gave up that desk for a tool belt,” Scott said. “I gave up the warm office for below zero temps and a snow packed job site. I took six months without a taking a paycheck for myself. It was a big risk and I put everything that I had into that home.”
For both Robbins and Scott, there were many nights where they couldn’t see the end, the product, the sale of the house.
“We had to keep faith that the path that we chose was the right one, and that it would pay off. When the home sold, and we handed the keys to the buyer in exchange for a check for all of our work, we knew we were doing what we were destined to do,” they said.
For Scott, flipping that first house harkened back to passions he’d developed in high school of crafting something from nothing.
“Developing a space that someone will call home, and getting paid to do it, it’s a win-win. I see my work a lot like my own life,” he said. “Starting with nothing, and developing something no one thought was possible. I don’t believe exponential success has quite hit me yet, but I hope to think I’m on the path.”
According to Scott, there’s a certain freedom that came along with starting his own company, and that freedom is multifaceted.
“When working in a firm, I designed what my bosses wanted me to design. When working for a builder, I built what the builder wanted me to build. When working for a real estate development company, the company bought properties that they liked,” he said. “Now that we have spent years developing our company, I am able to design what I want, build what I want, and buy what I want. Katherine and I are able to take time off to enjoy life while we are young, and we appreciate having those opportunities.”
Both Scott and Robbins say they’re proud of what their company has been able to accomplish in just a few short years and are looking to expand rapidly in 2018.
“This expansion includes work in Maine,” Scott said. “We have some new constructions being built that we have designed there, as well as consulting work with some of our clients. Although we are located in the Boston area, I still have strong ties to my roots in Maine. We often provide design services for clients there and have partnered with Buckthorn West, LLC for the construction phase.”
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