By Carol Kinsley

The Amish Tradesmen based in Seaford, offers quality-built pole barns and more. It’s a family-owned and operated business, providing the personalized service and quality craftsmanship of Amish families who are pole builders, carpenters and masons.

Rob Harman, a successful Realtor and businessman, came to be owner of The Amish Tradesmen by happenstance. A mutual friend referred former owner Jamie Grillo to him when she needed to sell her business and farm.

Harman, who is 70, was already busy with his own company, Alliance Real Estate Professionals, and his wife, Lynn, at the time was managing the expansion of the local Chamber of Commerce which shared office space in his building on Route 13 south of Seaford.

Rob and Lynn Harman are shown outside the pole building Rob had built behind his office to serve as an example of the quality of work that is performed by his Amish Tradesmen team. Photo by Bernard W. Carr

He tried, but was unable to sell the business for Grillo, since it required someone to continue doing what she had been doing single-handedly — operating the company, designing and selling pole barns, stables and commercial buildings.

After a lot of prayer and discussion with his wife, Harman decided God was leading them in that direction, so he bought the business and re-located it to the Seaford office. Grillo died a few weeks later; the purchase providing the additional funds needed to support her special needs son.

Harman had a pole barn built behind his office building to serve as an example of the quality of work performed by his Amish team, the Miller family, who lives in Dover. The construction team consists of the father with 40 years experience, his two sons, and a neighbor, a cousin, a licensed mason, who does concrete work. The site work is done by another father and son team, and the gutter installers are husband and wife. “These are mom and pop businesses that we are working with,” Harman said, “and we are exclusive with those contractors.”

Lynn has since retired from the chamber to work full-time with her husband, except that both are still selling real estate. Harman focuses on commercial real estate while his agents handle residential properties. Lynn works in the office answering phones, scheduling and preparing proposals.

Their son Carter, age 20, has joined the team full-time. Bookkeeping and spreadsheets are his strong suits, Harman said.

“Carter digitized our intake forms and spreadsheets so that information can be sent to the supplier by email to price materials. The spreadsheets calculate the labor costs and prepare a formal proposal for the customer. It’s an amazing thing!”

Lynn, as the coordinator of logistics, schedules site work and construction, sets up inspections, arranges the garage door and gutter installation and coordinates any additional work to be done by other contractors.

Harman continued, “It’s such a fun business. Since the days of running video stores in the mid-80s, I’ve had the blessing of family working together in business. The three of us work so well together. It’s nice to have everybody pulling in the same direction.”

Harman is a Washington, D.C., native and spent nearly 20 years in commercial office maintenance and management arena there, ultimately serving as building manager for the White House Group under the Reagan administration. He moved his family to Delaware in 1984 and opened Harman Video, a chain of video stores, while earning his Real Estate license. In 1995 he began to sell and lease in the Seaford area; in 2000, he became a broker in both Delaware and Maryland.

Harman started Home Team Realty with a partner and the business quickly became the top residential sales and listing company in the area, with more than 30 agents. He is now owner of Alliance Real Estate Professionals in Seaford. Harman received the “Realtor of the Year” and “The Good Neighbor” awards and has been featured as a commercial real estate expert on WBOC television. He has served as president of the Delaware Association of Realtors and is active in the local community.

Lynn moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1999, where she, too, is a licensed real estate broker. She is the former broker/owner of Senior Realty LLC, specializing in retirement home sales. She also worked for Comcast Spotlight, which brought her to Seaford where she became active in the former Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce. Shortly thereafter she served as the Executive Director of the chamber, now known as the Western Sussex Chamber of Commerce, until she retired in April of last year to join her husband at The Amish Tradesmen.

Harman estimates The Amish Tradesmen builds 60 to 75 buildings a year. “Pole buildings are useful for residential garages, car collectors, hobby and woodworking shops, offices, personal gyms, sports and party facilities, horse barns, arenas, and run-ins, greenhouses, produce markets, farm stores, storage for farm equipment, she sheds, and man caves… all at affordable prices!” he said.

A portfolio of buildings by The Amish Tradesmen is available on the website, or on Facebook. For more information, call (302) 349-5550.