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 Hadler Companies

The Hadler Companies
2000 W. Henderson Rd., Suite 500
Columbus 43220

Employees: 29
Signature projects:
Columbus Square Bowling Palace, Redevelopment of Westerville Square Shopping Center
Owns/manages two million square feet of retail space in shopping centers in Ohio and Wisonsin 

A common theme for most of these firms was that the younger generation heed Dad’s advice and looked up to him as a great role model, and it is no different for the Hadler Companies.

Not unlike his peer Robert Weiler, William N. “George” Hadler, CEO of the Hadler Companies, remembers that when he was a child, his father, a workaholic, drove him to various properties he had purchased. William H. Hadler had started the Hadler Realty Company in 1947.

“I saw a totally different element of my dad. He made it sound like fun, but he told me if I wanted to do this I would have to work hard,” Hadler says. “He was the man behind the desk and people wanted to come in and do business with him. I liked the idea that one day that would be me.”

He didn’t wait long. By age 13, the younger Hadler began as an office boy, graduating over the years to construction, property management and real estate listings after he got his license.

While the company specializes in shopping center development and leasing, one of its signature projects is the 64-lane Columbus Square Bowling Palace and redevelopment of the Westerville Shopping Center.

As George Hadler took over more of the business operations, he recruited his son Bill, now vice president of operations, who worked during the summers and joined fulltime in 2006 after college. It wasn’t a tough sell. The variety of the job and family involvement attracted Hadler’s son.

“I always knew I wanted to be part of the family business because it was exciting to hear what my father and grandfather were working on next,” Bill says. He remembers before joining that his father showed him a commission check, earned only after many years of effort.

“At that moment, it was imprinted into my mind that the extra effort pays high dividends in the future,” he says.

George Hadler’s nephew, Brad Koniewich, now a vice president, joined the organization in 2003. As a youngster, he visited job sites and new developments and eventually worked in construction, knowing one day he would join. And while it may be family, there is still a need for open and honest communication, he says.

“There needs to be common values, visions and expectations,” Koniewich says. “All three generations have had a positive impact. We had the guidance of my grandfather, the real estate and construction experience from my uncle and father and a third generation willing to learn how to become successful.”

It was the patriarch’s long-range plan that came to fruition, George Hadler says.

“Dad planned this to be multigenerational, knowing it would be nice to sustain and take care of family for generations to come.”

Planned or not, these successful companies are literally family affairs.

TC Brown is a freelance writer.