Garett Radke

The year 1989 was significant for Garett Radke. He was named Big50, went through a divorce, and took a trip that would change his life. He was running a $500,000 design/build company with three employees when he went on vacation to the Caribbean island of Nevis. Radke was so enamored of the island, he immediately began working on a plan to spend more time there. Three years ago, he designed and built an eco-friendly waterfront resort with a 10,000-square-foot villa. Eden Villa is solar- and wind-powered and has a water collection and purification system. Radke is also researching hydroponic greenhouses, so he can grow vegetables on the property.

The resort is nonprofit, and significant proceeds from guest stays support the local community. “We also give the community any excess power we generate,” Radke says. He hopes his “whole-living environment” will be a model for other developers.

He still owns Radke Construction in DeWitt, Mich., but only accepts jobs that appeal to him because of the clients or interesting design, and relies on trusted subcontractors to bring the work to life. He works on the projects when he is in the U.S., and in the interim keeps in touch with clients via e-mail and broadband phone service.