Lloyd Goldman on making a family business work

BLDG principals put policies in place to prevent infighting

Renderings of 222 East 44th Street by Handel Architects and Lloyd Goldman
Renderings of 222 East 44th Street by Handel Architects and Lloyd Goldman

Family dynasties are a fixture of the New York real estate scene, but few manage to share and transfer power across generations as smoothly as the Goldmans, owners of BLDG Management.

Lloyd Goldman, nephew to legendary investor Sol Goldman, took control of BLDG along with his older sisters, Katja Goldman Sonnenfeldt and Dorian Goldman Israelow, back in 1995 when their father Irving died.

Unlike such families as the Elghanayans and Feils, the Goldmans managed their transition without lawsuits, and without splitting the business into parts.

They achieved it by bringing in an outside board of advisors to evaluate decisions, effectively limiting their own power. The move was prompted by infighting among the siblings during the course of BLDG’s purchase, along with Silverstein Properties, of the World Trade Center site.

The board largely validated Lloyd’s strategy, but more importantly, it changed the dynamic, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“No matter how much I accomplish or what mistakes I make, I’m still their little brother,” Lloyd told the Journal. One of the rules at BLDG is that the firm won’t hire family members fresh after graduation.

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“They should seek proficiency in their skill set or come here with a professional degree,” Lloyd said.

Today, the family controls a massive national portfolio consisting of thousands of commercial properties. They’ve recently moved from pure investment to ground-up development, with the construction of The One, a 36-story rental tower in Jersey City. That building opened in June.

BLDG also recently broke ground at 22 East 44th Street in Midtown, where the company is developing a 43-story rental building.

“He doesn’t have an ego,” Stanley Chera, who has done more than 15 deals with Lloyd over the years, told the Journal.

Lloyd himself stressed the value of compromise.

“You don’t need to fight with people,” he told the Journal. “There’s a way to find mutual ground and keep moving forward.” Lloyd is, however, a major investor in the New York Wheel, where the partners are doing their fair share of infighting. [WSJ] – Ariel Stulberg