Through recessions, wars and now a pandemic, Edward Rose & Sons stands the test of time in 100th year.
It’s not often businesses make it out of their infancy, and it’s even less likely companies will succeed through multiple generations. Owner, manager and developer Edward Rose & Sons has accomplished this feat through the Great Depression, World War II and now a worldwide pandemic and has no plans to look back as they continue celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Edward Rose arrived in America from Eastern Europe when he was 12. Like many immigrants new to the United States, Rose didn’t speak English and had little formal education. “It's a very similar story,” says CEO Warren Rose, referring to his grandfather as a character from a Horatio Alger story. “Immigrants coming to the U.S. and having nothing in their pockets but their brains and their hard work. They really made something for themselves and for their employees. He just had natural instincts, a good spirit and a sense of fairness.”
Edward Rose & Sons was founded in Detroit in 1921. Rose found a niche in the Motor City as the surrounding area was industrialized due to huge growth from car companies. This created a large demand for housing in the 1920s and 1930s. The development of single-family homes continued with a transition more toward multifamily when Warren’s father, Sheldon, took over operations in the 1950s.
He noticed the opportunity to expand into multifamily housing as his brothers were running various other enterprises—banking, insurance, etc. The prospect of updated multifamily homes in the late ’50s and ’60s began as families exited cities for suburban lifestyles. “My dad just kind of had this feeling that this is certainly a growing area,” says Warren. “Not everybody is going to want a single-family home, so we were building single-family homes and starting to develop the garden-style, two-, three-story walkup type communities around the United States. And that's really where it got started. We were really on the ground floor of the apartment industry back in the day.”
Third Generation Rose
As Warren grew, so did the company he would one day lead. He saw the company’s growth in multifamily housing with his own eyes as he spent time with his father (and grandfather) on the job—"three generations in one office at one time, although he didn't work, he just came in and played golf,” joked Warren of his late grandfather.
From an early age, Warren knew he wanted to be involved with his father and in the industry. “Just over time I just got the bug.” This love for the industry and his family’s business came from spending time with his father. “I was being brainwashed by my dad,” Rose says. “He would take me on trips and take me out to the construction sites and really introduce me to what he was doing.”
Rose called his father a “pioneer,” and he worked seven days a week. “So, if you wanted to be with Dad, you had to be on Dad's terms.”
Developments were in progress throughout the Midwest, and Rose and his father would travel to the different locations. “Sunday mornings we’d get up, hop in the plane. Go to Kalamazoo; pick up some people; go on to Milwaukee; go on to Indianapolis and South Bend. Who knows where you're going to end up that day?” Rose and his father would look at land, construction sites, existing communities—inspection tours and the like. Rose recalls he was very lucky to spend 30 years in the business learning from his father and working closely with him.
Celebrating the Past and Future
“I first started here about 30 some odd years ago, but when the 100th anniversary started to creep up on us I thought, ‘Wait, I’m still only 7 years old.’ A couple of years ago we realized, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to be 100 years in two years and we’re going to make it, so we’re going to plan for this.’” Rose and team began planning with a committee to organize events and other items to celebrate all team members because “it’s their victory too.”
When planning began for the celebration, it was decided that there would be community-level events on top of the corporate event. Rose knew not every team member would be able to attend one event—Rose & Sons has 2,500 employees across roughly 160 communities. Some localized events were combined, and celebrations were held at branch offices. “With the community-level events, we planned the events so that it was inclusive for all of our team members, so they could join in the recognition of the organization,” says Rose, who did his best to attend the events that started in May and continued through October.
The events are a way for team members to reflect on the company and for Rose and other executives to meet community team members who work so hard at taking care of residents. Rose loves learning and listening to team members speak about their day-to-day work and their interactions with residents and their challenges. Rose says, they are very lucky to have a corps of employees who have been with the company for a very, very long time. “They're putting their blood, sweat and tears into taking care of our residents.”
Rose knows how vital his team members are throughout the company, top to bottom. He is proud of what his family and organization have achieved over the last 100 years. “[I have] immense pride in what the company and my family have accomplished and what all of my team members and my employees have accomplished over the century. It's really a testament to a lot of dedication and hard work and focus in self-sacrifice,” Rose says. “I’m very lucky to be part of a group of family—an organization—that looks toward the future.”
As for his future, Rose continues planning, overseeing their portfolio of company-built 68,000 units. He knows that at some point he will step aside as the leader of the company his grandfather founded.
“You have a plan for those things, and my dad and I worked on that during his lifetime. I have a daughter that’s now working in the company, and I have a nephew, so we do have some members of the fourth generation that are starting to come up now and take interest in
Michael Miller is NAA’s Managing Editor.