Jeff Rosenberg and David Simon
Photo: Marc Berlow
Wisconsin builders Jeff Rosenberg and David Simon bet they can do what any number of brothers fail to do: work as partners in one home building business, Veridian Homes, a new company formed by merging the largest builder in Madison, Wis., Don Simon Homes, with its closest competitor, Midland Builders. Anticipating 2004 revenue of $143 million, Veridian says it's the largest builder in Wisconsin.
The immediate prospects are rosy. Don Simon Homes is No. 276 in PB's most recent GIANTS rankings, with 2002 revenue of $59.4 million on 275 closings. Midland ranks No. 339 with $41.6 million on 259 closings. Both charismatic leaders are in their 40s. Both firms are into green building, energy efficiency and quality process control. Each has two traditional neighborhoods in early stages of development.
Consultants who studied the corporate cultures say they mirror each other. And while Don Simon Homes and Midland Builders each had a voracious competitor, Veridian doesn't have any competitor close enough in size to be dangerous. Lenders should be lining up to provide financing.
It's not the synergy of the companies that causes us to raise an eyebrow over this deal. It's the marriage of the families. Both firms were founded in the 1950s. The families have been competitors for half a century. Now they are supposed to divide everything 50-50?
Veridian formed as a limited liability corporation and the firm's land company as an S corporation. David Simon heads the home building division, Rosenberg the land operation. The new partners deflect questions about clashes of ego.
"It's just like a marriage," David Simon says. "If we spend time working on our relationship, it will be fine." Rosenberg says egos will be muted and quotes Harry Truman: "You can accomplish almost anything if you don't care who gets the credit."