Thicker Than Blood: Simonini Builders

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Charlotte, N.C., partners Ray Killian and Allan Simonini have turned Simonini Builders into a pillar of excellence, winning a National Housing Quality Award and a local business ethics award in recent years while building 50 to 60 houses a year and ave...

July 01, 2003

 

Allan Simonini and Ray Killian

Charlotte, N.C., partners Ray Killian and Allan Simonini have turned Simonini Builders into a pillar of excellence, winning a National Housing Quality Award and a local business ethics award in recent years while building 50 to 60 houses a year and averaging $50 million in annual revenue. But they still can't stay out of crime reports on Charlotte television because of name confusion with the company of Allan's brother, David Simonini, also a builder.

Al Simonini Sr. founded Simonini Builders in 1973. After his retirement in the early 1990s, Allan and David were partners but didn't get along. "They were at each other's throats when their father retired and moved to Florida," vice president Bill Saint says. "David has always had personal problems. So Allan went to his friend Ray Killian and asked him to buy the company. Instead, Ray talked Allan into partnering with him. The Simonini family has zero ownership interest in our company now."

However, when a local TV station recently reported an FBI investigation of David Simonini, it illustrated the story with shots of Simonini Builders' headquarters building and zoomed in on a banner touting the company's NHQ Award. "We really tore into them and got a retraction the next day," Saint says. "But I will never watch that TV station's news show again."

When family conflicts disrupt home building companies, it rarely hits a TV news show. But it certainly doesn't enhance the bottom line. No wonder so many management consultants say continuing a company into succeeding generations of family ownership and management is not a good idea unless one clear leader emerges to take control.

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