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From an Unheated Trailer, $100 Opal, Rose Builds His Empire With ATNT

Tim Rose worked 90-100 hours a week to ensure that his children would have a better life.

Mon December 01, 2014 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

Tim Rose once lived in an unheated trailer that was so cold he had to scrape the frost off his television to watch it.

“I was living in a camper, a trailer. There was no insulation. It was February,” said Rose. “I went to the Laundromat to wash my clothes, but it closed before I could dry them. So, I took the clothes home to my trailer camper and they froze. I scraped ice off the TV to view it. I had a shower over the toilet.”

His first car was an Opal he bought for $100.

“Thank God it was a standard shift,” Rose said. “I can’t count how many times I had to push that car in the cold mornings in order to start it.”

Rose was 22. It was 1985. With no post-secondary education and some well-honed carpentry skills he launched his own business.

He also made a vow.

“I said, ’My children will never see this.’ I worked 90 to 100 hours a week so my kids would never go through that,” said Rose.

Fast forward nearly 30 years. Rose, the founder of ATNT Construction (All Top Notch Talent), now lives in a 9,800 sq. ft. home (11,100 square feet if you count the finished basement and the walkout, which puts a fourth floor on the back) and includes an award-winning swimming pool room inside edged with meticulous stone work Rose laid.

He designed and built the massive home himself with only one other contractor to help him.

His company, ATNT Construction, has served Rehoboth and adjacent Swansea, Mass. (and surrounding communities) with a variety of services — excavation, site work, landscaping, septic system Title V installation and the clearing and development of rural land in order to build complete home sites from the ground up.

Of the hundreds of homes he has helped build, the most important is the magnificent one he lives in, complete with his working office, workshop and equipment yard on Purchase Street.

His two sons — Keith and Kyle — are now on board as the second generation of Roses running subsidiary enterprises under their Dad’s company umbrella.

“Kyle is running a job site; Keith is running a job site. They work 60 to 80 hours a week in summer. They work hard,” said Rose. “They are building a stick frame house in one sub-division, a big modular house in another sub-division. That sub-division we do, soup to nuts. We bought the lot, cleared the lot, landscaped, and built the homes and are finishing them.”

He proudly points to a 32-house sub-division in Swansea where he and his sons build custom homes per order.

From Princess to Ruler

At age 17, Tim Rose finished high school and became an in-house carpenter at Princess House in Dighton. “I worked weekends, helped to build garages. I was the young kid, the bull worker,” said Rose. “They all wanted to work with the young kid who never stopped and didn’t know any better.

“So, I went from high school to Princess House to my own business,” he said.

A self-taught excavator and backhoe operator taking on small jobs, his first major purchase was a 1988 one-ton dump truck.

“That was my first brand-new truck,” said Rose. “Believe it or not, I went on dates with that truck. It was the only vehicle I had.”

His modest fleet soon expanded with the addition of a 1970 John Deere backhoe.

“When I left Princess House, I did doors, windows, roofing. And I started T.R.’s Home Improvement. That became ATNT — All Top Notch Talent,” said Rose. “I will celebrate 30 years in business in 2015.”

His son Kyle began learning about heavy iron while still a child. A photo of Kyle, age 9, working a backhoe is a prized possession.

“Kyle was born for this industry,” said Rose. “Keith doesn’t like the construction end much. He developed the landscaping arm of our business and it boomed. He runs Landscaping by Keith. During down times, if it wasn’t for Keith’s landscaping business, we’d have been hurting. Now, the business is half construction and half landscaping.”

Rose is familiar with difficult recessions. The first recession in construction hit the local area just three years after he formed his business.

“That was a big one in 1988 and 1989,” Rose said. “It almost took me out because I wasn’t established yet. I had to scramble, doing small jobs. We were back to building sheds and putting windows in.”

But now, with three decades under his tool belt, Rose’s Better Business Status sustains him on merit alone.

“We spent the money early. We used to have ads everywhere, but we’ve been in business long enough where we don’t need it,” Rose said. “Our brand new Web site and word of mouth is all we need. Clients won’t do anything without us; they want us to do everything. When they go on vacation, they leave us their keys in order to do the work in their yards while they are away.”

Goals and Goalposts

His Tatiana Estates up the road is a source of special pride as is the incredible pool room in his massive home. His home office is filled with memorabilia, photos, trophies, awards, plaques and other athletic accomplishments.

They are not his. They are his sons’. When Keith and Kyle are not putting in massive summer hours with Dad on the job, they are setting state scoring records in both soccer and football.

Rose beams when he speaks of his boys on both the landscaping turf and the football turf.

“Here is an award from the Boston Globe for Keith. When he was just a sophomore at Dighton-Rehoboth High he made the Globe’s Eastern All State All Scholastic Team in soccer. There’s story after story here,” said Rose, pointing to newspaper articles on the wall. “And Kyle, as a junior in high school, scored 19 touchdowns in football. He is a senior this year. In one game, he scored four TDs, runs of 84, 82, 76 and 64 yards. He had eight carries and averaged 64 yards a carry. That’s just phenomenal.”

Hidden Civil War

“About 20 years ago, I was a sub-contractor on this job. We were excavating a site and my driver was crossing this driveway with this dozer and it collapsed under the weight,” said Rose. “It was like a sink hole. The dozer weighed six tons and it went through the roof of this hidden room. It was a hideaway filled with Civil War weapons, swords. No one knew it was there; certainly not the man who bought the lot we were working on. If he had never crossed that driveway, we’d still never know it was there. Those swords sold for about $1,000.”

Besides the huge home sub-division, Rose has helped to build a large apartment complex in Fall River, which features tiered apartments, Planet Fitness, Bargain Outlet and other notable stores.

But Rose has always sustained controlled growth, knowing what he could handle within budget, how much he could borrow or maintain if the economy turned south.

“The big thing to avoid is to get too big, too fast,” said Rose. “It is better to be prepared when the economy goes bad. How else do you pay those bills?

“I can tell you about this local contractor. He had a $1 million excavator. Do you know what the bank note is on a $1 million excavator? It’s probably $15,000 per month. When things went bad during the housing collapse that was the end of him. That’s why we didn’t become huge,” said Rose.

Except for his impressive, self-built mansion, that is. He is proudest of how far he has come without formal education — from a frozen trailer with icy underwear to Hummers for both sons and a new $75,000 work truck.

“My brother and my two sisters, they were on the dean’s list in college. My mother was a school teacher. They looked a little down on me,” said Rose. “Well, I was able to buy this 50-acre farm, bought the others out, made the blueprints, dug the foundation with my friend Richie and built, what Richie calls, ’This ranch on steroids,’” said Rose. “Just me and him.

“My mother said, ’Show us the plans. Show us the blueprints.’ Richie said, ’We’ll show you when we are done.’ We showed her when it was done.”

“Do you like the pool room? Like the truck?,” Rose said. “It’s a long, long way from that trailer park and that $100 Opal.”

For more information, call 508/326-6336 or visit

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