While walking through perhaps his most exquisite masterpiece, homebuilder Ranny McKee couldn’t help but take a moment to admire his work.
“Even for the homes I build, this one was over the top,” McKee said of the house he built in Seven Hills for Las Vegas businessman Mark Lindsey.
A stunner even by Sin City’s lavish standards, the 30,000-square-foot home features a $500,000, 16-seat home theater, a climbing wall, a two-story foyer water-wall and a car elevator that goes up to the master bedroom.
Though McKee, 52, walks with a noticeable limp, the fact that he is walking at all is remarkable, considering what happened on Jan. 13, 1991.
Having grown up racing dirt bikes, McKee, who was 25 at the time, and some friends were practicing on a track near Silver Bowl Park.
On a routine jump — one that McKee said he had cleared a thousand times before — something went terribly wrong.
“I came up short and when I hit it, it threw me over the handlebars and I went face-first into a berm,” he said. “I wasn’t in the right gear for the jump, but I was already committed. I knew I was in trouble.”
Though he had walked away from countless other more violent crashes, McKee suffered a broken neck, wrist and back.
“It knocked me out, but when I came to, one of my hands was over my face,” McKee said. “I bit the hand and I couldn’t feel anything. I had friends that had been paralyzed from racing dirt bikes, so that’s when I knew. I couldn’t move anything from the neck down.”
With a young wife and a bright future ahead as a homebuilder — the only job he ever really wanted — McKee was told by doctors that he’d never walk again and never be able to use his hands.
The doctors obviously didn’t know Ranny McKee.
“It was devastating, but it just wasn’t an option for me to be in a wheelchair,” McKee said. “That was my mindset.”
McKee said he knew he would walk again. He never lost hope. Negativity has never been a part of his personality.
“I would try so hard to move my toes, and it would be exhausting,” McKee said. “One day, I was doing that and a nurse walked in and told me my toes were wiggling.”
Though his doctors told him small movements wouldn’t be uncommon and didn’t necessarily mean much, it was the spark McKee needed. About a year after the accident, he was walking again, albeit in a labored fashion.
To this day, it’s not easy for McKee to get around, but his physical limitations have had little impact on what he’s been able to accomplish as a high-end homebuilder.
As owner of a small valley company called Elegant Homes, McKee is thoughtful about the projects he takes. Finished last year, Lindsey’s home was the 50th built by McKee’s company, which he founded in 1993.
As many — if not all — of his clients will tell you, McKee is a man in search of perfection when it comes to his craft. No detail is overlooked.
Among McKee’s list of clients are former UNLV men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger and former NFL players Steven Jackson and Brian Kelly.
Though Kruger and his wife, Barb, have since moved from their Southern Highlands home — he’s now the basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma — they remain fans of McKee.
“If we ever build again in Las Vegas, there’s no question about who we’d want to hire,” Barb Kruger said. “What really stood out about Ranny, other than the fact that he’s great at what he does, is that he’s trustworthy. That isn’t always the case in the contracting business.”
McKee has become close friends with a number of his clients.
Lindsey likes to entertain at his Seven Hills home and it’s common for McKee and his wife, Trish, to be on the guest list.
“This was the fifth house I’ve had built, and I’d never want to use anyone other than Ranny again,” Lindsey said. “I had some bad experiences previously, so I was determined to find a good contractor to build this home. I’m so happy to have found Ranny. He’s phenomenal.”
Lindsey, who moved into the house in October, said he’s already had people inquire about buying it.
“I’ve had some famous people through the house who have asked about it,” Lindsey said. “The home is so amazing, though, I wouldn’t sell it for less than $30 million.”
McKee, meanwhile, is at his job sites every day, making sure no detail is overlooked.
“I’m constantly watching everything that everybody does and trying to get them to raise their standards,” he said. “I only do a couple of houses at a time because I feel like I need to be there.”
McKee said he doesn’t know long he’ll keep building houses and has thought about ways to further use his story to help people.
“For a long time, I didn’t want my story out...I didn’t want to just be known as the guy who was injured,” he said. “But I’ve also mentored a lot of people, just trying to get them to get moving. One day, when I’m done building, maybe I could go and make speeches, because I know my story is inspiring to people.”