Generations of builders

By TC Brown
Photos by Will Shilling

Building as a family affair is by no means a rarity in central Ohio. The area boasts several families in which commercial real estate is now carried on by second generations, and in some cases, third generations. Those organizations include the Robert Weiler Company, Pizzuti Companies, The Daimler Group, Virginia Homes and the Hadler Companies, among others. Some of these organizations' founders envisioned a legacy for their families; in other instances, family participation simply evolved. 

The Robert Weiler Company

The Robert Weiler Company
10 N. High St., Suite 401
Columbus 43215

Employees: 21
Signature projects: Polaris development, Columbus Commons
In 1995 built first FHA subdivison in central Ohio in Whitehall 

At the ripe old age of three, Robert J. Weiler spent many an hour clambering in and through the partially constructed houses being built by his father, A. Robert “Bob” Weiler.

Weiler remembers his dad loading him and his older brother, Alan, into the car on weekends for an expedition to the east side of Columbus, where his father was building homes or showing the completed for-sale properties in Bexley and Eastmoor.

“Alan and I would be going into the houses that were just under construction, climbing up the stairs and going into the homes that were open on Sunday,” Weiler says. “I got a flavor of that and thought from there on this was something I’d be interested in doing. It seemed like a fun thing, building houses and selling them.”

Witnessing the enjoyment of his father triggered the urge for his son, now chairman of the board of the Robert Weiler Company, to enter the business in 1957. His brother joined him on the insurance side of the company.

“It wasn’t like debating between going into real estate and anything else,” Weiler says from the small corner, Scarlet-and-Gray-adorned Buckeye Room in the Weiler company offices, overlooking Broad and High streets. “It was a natural thing, and it was a family business.”

And as that business blossomed over the years, a third-generation Weiler jumped aboard in 1985, when Robert J. “Skip” Weiler joined the company as a real estate salesman. He is now president of the company, which has 21 employees.

Building as a family affair is by no means a rarity in central Ohio. The area boasts several families in which commercial real estate development is now carried on by second generations, and in some cases like the Weilers, third generations.

Those organizations include Pizzuti Companies, The Daimler Group, Virginia Homes and the Hadler Companies, among others. Some of these organizations’ founders envisioned a legacy for their families; in other instances, family participation simply evolved.

The Weiler patriarch started the real estate business, also acquiring an interest in the insurance firm that became Archer-Meek-Weiler Agency Inc. Huntington Bancshares Inc. purchased the insurance side on its 99th birthday in 2008.

“I really think dad was happy to be able to keep it in the family and have Alan and I join,” Robert Weiler says. “He started the company with his own name. Alan knew he was going to be working with his father, too.”

Joining an established real estate development firm brings advantages that include a large circle of friends and business acquaintances, and a considerable amount of institutional knowledge.

The third generation Weiler, Skip, says his parents did not push him into the business. During summers he cut grass in subdivisions that he later discovered were owned by his dad and his partners.

After college graduation he traveled for six months. One day he arrived at the office in a white shirt, tie and three-piece suit, prompting his father into a double take.

“My parents always told me to follow my dreams and never hinted at anything,” Skip Weiler says. He discovered his passion for real estate sales while taking classes but had concerns about measuring up to the reputations of his father and grandfather. A close friend offered superior advice.

“He said don’t look at it as filling your dad’s shoes, look at it as standing on his shoulders,” Skip remembers. “I realized he was right, and I could take advantage of my dad and have him help me. The two of us could do more than I could do on my own.”

Notable projects for both include development of Polaris, the largest and most successful for the company, and the Highpoint on Columbus Commons.