Mike Mahar has had a hand in building dozens of local neighborhoods for four decades.

More recently, his efforts have gone toward developing medical and office parks, while contributing to Asante's expansion and Kid's Unlimited projects.

The veteran builder and developer was named First Citizen at The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County's annual awards dinner Thursday night at the Inn at the Commons.

"Mike is a visionary and a man with great intuition," said Randy Jones, Mahar's business partner, who presented the award. "He can see in his mind how things could go together then surrounds himself with a team that can help implement that vision."

Brothers Lou, Dan and Mike Mahar launched Pacific Trend in 1977, and in 1992, Mike Mahar and Jones founded Mahar Homes.

Mahar, a North Dakota native who moved to Medford as a toddler, has cast a long shadow in the area's single-family residential construction, from the Southeast Plan and throughout Medford, along with Ashland and Central Point projects. His company has also developed property in Brookings and Bozeman, Montana.

"He understand his own strengths and weaknesses," Jones said. "But he's patient in the sense that not all decisions can be implemented overnight. Especially the field of building and development, it takes years to work through different projects and coordinate infrastructure with codes and timing."

The tools of common sense and discernment in his trade are just as important as hammers and saws.

"He knows the market can fluctuate," Jones said. "The old saying, 'If you build it, they will come,' does not ring true. There is risk involved, because a lot of time and treasure are put into projects. If market conditions change at all, you have to be nimble enough not to overextend yourself so that any one project could take you down."

Over time, Mahar Homes expanded beyond its bread-and-butter single-family residential construction to professional and medical office complexes, retirement homes and apartment buildings.

Jones said Mahar's people skills and adaptability combined with the ability to size up the potential for raw land have helped him succeed.

He wants to stay current with the times, knowing decisions made today affect things in the future," Jones said. "Sometimes people just follow the mold that was laid out years earlier. Mike will make adjustments, where other not-so-creative people will just build along the lines set out earlier, and it doesn't work as well.'

As a member of the Asante Foundation, Mahar was instrumental in propelling a $120 million expansion. He also played a key role in Kids Unlimited campus development.

Mahar first set eyes on his wife, Mary, in the seventh grade, and the couple have been married for 48 years.

"He still considers his greatest single achievement was convincing Mary to marry him," Jones said.

The couple have three children, Shannon, Christina and Mike, and eight grandchildren.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.