Brothers Who Build
Clients become friends at Leibo Brothers Management, LLC
Brothers Michael and Jeff Leibowitz have the construction industry in their DNA. The two grew up in the business, learning how to read blueprints while watching their father run his own construction company.
“That’s really where we got our foundation and love of construction,” Michael remembers.
Both boys knew from a young age they wanted to follow in their father’s footsteps as builders. So, it was no surprise that Michael started his own company by the age of 25, handling residential and commercial contracting.
Meanwhile, Jeff began working in commercial construction in New York City. That lasted for five years until, as Jeff recalls, “Michael told me to stop commuting to New York City every day, that I was missing my kids growing up, and to come work with him—he was right.”
The two first began working together in 1999 and founded Leibo Brothers Management, LLC in 2004. They’ve been working literally side by side ever since, sharing the same office with their desks 6 feet apart.
Leibo Brothers Management specializes in commercial construction throughout the U.S. and Canada, overseeing projects ranging from 15,000 to 85,000 square feet. Their focus has been in the medical, dental and retail industries. As a preferred builder for Planet Fitness, Leibo Brothers Management has built out more than 100 locations across the U.S. and Canada. The brothers also have extensive experience in turnkey real estate development, where they purchase land or a building, build to the customer’s requirements and then lease it back to a client. This greatly reduces out-of-pocket costs to the customers and allows for more rapid expansion.
Jeff and Michael’s complementary strengths have led to a good working relationship between the two: Jeff handles the overall operations, while Michael focuses on the financial side of the business. “If we didn’t complement each other, we wouldn’t have lasted this long together,” laughs Jeff.
A Personalized Approach
Jeff and Michael have found success in having a highly personalized and hands-on approach to clients, and Jeff estimates that about 98% of their business comes from word-of-mouth. “Our clients are generally people who like to be involved in their projects and who appreciate the amount of attention we give each project,” he says.
Rather than handing off projects to a designated project manager, Michael or Jeff will continue to be involved through each step of the process. They are always available, even if the client just wants to brainstorm ideas and get feedback.
“A customer will call and ask us to come look at a building and tell them if it’s a good location before an architect is even hired,” Jeff says. “We’ll do that as a service—it’s part of our process.”
The goal is to make each client feel as if they are the only client. “We take special pride and interest in our customers,” Michael says. Jeff agrees. He says, “It’s important that they get that kind of attention and that we make them feel special. This isn’t going to be a typical general contractor relationship—it’s all of us working as a team to get these projects complete.”
Leibo Brothers Management is also fully transparent when it comes to costs and numbers. Jeff explains their approach: “We treat every project as if we are spending our own money. There’s no project we work on that we don’t say, ‘You can save money by doing it this way.’ It’s solidified our relationships with our customers. We’re not looking to make every last dollar we can off a project; we’re looking to build a long-term relationship.”
“Almost all of our clients become our friends,” Michael says. “They’re people we frequently talk to even after projects are done. We like to have the family type of atmosphere with our jobs and our office. We don’t just think of our employees and clients as team members; they’re part of the family.”
Home in NXTHVN
One project that Leibo Brothers Management is particularly proud of is a multi-use arts and creative center for NXTHVN, a New Haven-based arts incubator and fellowship program that provides support and mentorship for early-career artists and creative professionals. The program was developed by artist Titus Kaphar, a graduate of the Yale School of Art, who wanted to find a way to encourage artists and entrepreneurs to stay in New Haven and help expand the city’s creative community.
“He wants to keep artists in New Haven, rather than have them leave and go to New York City,” Jeff explains. “He bought a building complex in a neighborhood where he could make a difference, but not overshadow the neighborhood.”
Leibo Brothers Management is currently overseeing the design-build construction for the mixed-use property, located in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven. Jeff and Michael have been involved from the very beginning, looking at and offering advice on the buildings being renovated. Leibo Brothers Management is turning the buildings, which previously housed a manufacturing plant and ice cream factory, into an arts center that will include a co- working space, theater, art gallery, artist studios, apartments and café. The entire process has taken about three years, with another year to go before the project is completed.
Finishing Strong on the Extra Mile
Leibo Brothers Management is supported by a team of about 20 employees, whose strengths Jeff says are their personalities and attention to detail. He adds, “It’s important that anyone we hire is outgoing and able to represent the company as if Michael and I were present on every single job. That’s been of huge importance to us.”
Like Jeff and Michael, members of the Leibo Brothers Management team are focused on ensuring customers receive dedicated attention from the first look at a location, right up until the day the client is ready to move into a new space.
Jeff and Michael believe that one of the reasons contractors end up with bad relationships with clients is the lack of follow-through at the end of a project. For everyone on the Leibo Brothers Management team, it’s important that they stand behind their work, ensure everything is completed and not leave a job until it’s 100% done.
“Our project managers stay on a project until the very end—until the certificate of occupancy is issued and the punch list is completed,” Michael says.
The team takes pride in ensuring all in the fine details and finishing touches are taken care of—it’s just one aspect of the personalized service that has come to define the business. “It could be something as small as installing a coat hook that wasn’t part of the original quote,” Jeff says. “Customers remember when you go the extra mile.”
A quote from Jeff that appears on the company’s website probably sums up the Leibo Brothers Management philosophy best: “It’s not how you start a project, it’s how you finish it.”