Founding and growing a successful business is not for the faint of heart. It requires unparalleled focus,unswerving attention to detail, and a clear-eyed sense of one’s goals—as well as the commitment to see them through. Often, getting such a business off the ground—not to mention keeping it running strong—means spending time away from family. In the case of these three incredible developers, however, running their own business is just the contrary. The Viera Company, Logan Homes, and On Top of the World are all family affairs—and they’re much the better for it. All three companies have created business models with room to incorporate family members at every level of involvement—from board members to sales directors, managers to CEOs. When it comes to building a legacy to remember, for these three developers, it’s all in the family.
The Viera Company: A Family Affair
In 1926, Slovak immigrant Andrew Duda and his sons produced their first cash crop of celery—an event that laid the foundation for the establishment of the Duda family legacy. Two decades later, those sons—the “three seniors”—
purchased a 43,000-acre tract of land in Brevard, FL, on what would become the Sunshine State’s Space Coast, with the intent of creating a major cattle operation. Today, that tract of land is Viera, the 15th top-selling master-planned community in the United States. With a deep-rooted commitment to environmental preservation, dedication to philanthropy, a wide range of education and worship opportunities, and stellar amenities, Viera has evolved a great deal over the years. But one thing hasn’t changed: It remains a family affair.
“There are currently 27 Duda family members working for the company,” says C. Scott Miller, VP of Sales and Community Management, who has been with the company for 25 years. “There are 19 fourth-generation family members in roles ranging from the CEO/President position to leadership roles across all major business units, and we have eight fifth-generation family members involved in various facets of the company, from western vegetable operations in California to homebuilding and land development here in Viera. We also have six family members serving on the board of directors, including a third-generation family member serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.”
With all that The Viera Company has already achieved, company President Todd J. Pokrywa believes there is still a lot of room for innovation. “While today Viera currently has over 23,500 residents, 10,500 homes, three million square feet of commercial space, and 10,000 jobs across 350 businesses, at buildout the community is projected to be home to over 60,000 residents, up to 31,000 homes, over seven million square feet of commercial space, and over 25,000 jobs across 600 businesses,” says Pokrywa, who wrote his thesis on Viera while studying urban and regional planning at the University of Waterloo.
Pokrywa has nurtured an interest in Viera since childhood, when his family traveled from Canada each year to vacation on Florida’s Space Coast. “I was intrigued about the community from the very beginning, given the long-term vision and commitment to stewardship that the family expressed when unveiling and pursuing the vision for Viera. From early on in the development, the community has enhanced the quality of life for its residents and provided an environment for businesses to be successful,” he says.
Given that he’s been with the company for a quarter of a century, C. Scott Miller has a unique perspective on Viera’s growth over the years.
“I suspect that the three seniors likely did not envision that their Cocoa Ranch would transform to the major master-planned community that is Viera today, but I am equally confident that they would be proud of the fact that the project has been successfully built with attention to detail and an overarching sense of ethical stewardship,” Miller says. “I find it humbling when I look back at the boldness that the third-generation family leadership took in electing to develop a master planned community over an enormous parcel of land. Viera means ‘faith’ in Slovak, the native tongue of Andrew Duda, and the success of Viera lies on the back of the same foundation of faith and hard-working perseverance that the three seniors and their father exhibited in starting the company in the early 1900s.”
Logan Homes: Like Father, Like Son
In 1986, Logan Homes built its first luxury home on the southeastern North Carolina coast. The seeds that gave rise to the company were planted three years before, though, when president and owner D. Logan, Sr. was still a teenager. “My dad kicked me out of the house when I was 16, which led to a career digging ditches,” says D. Logan, Sr. with typical humility. “I worked for a contractor for a while. Then I started Logan Homes when I was 19.” D. Logan was introduced to the world of custom home building by starting first as a carpenter’s helper where he assisted in building some of the finest homes along Wrightsville Beach and Figure Eight Island, after which he turned his dream into a reality and began Logan Homes.
Many 19-year-olds wouldn’t have the savvy to start their own business—much less one that is still thriving 32 years later—but D. Logan, Sr. is the exception. Honesty and integrity along with determination and dedication to excellence have kept the company going. “We did custom building for about 15 years. Then, 15 or 20 years ago, we started developing our own land,” he says.
With a wide range of plans in their portfolio for personalized and move-in-ready homes in both North Carolina and the South Carolina lowcountry, including new master-planned communities in Bluffton, SC, Logan Homes has come a long way since those early days.
“The home you build is only as good as the people who build it,” says D. Logan, Sr. Always trying to improve the building process, he has fostered the same passionate attitude throughout Logan Homes’ nearly 80 employees over two divisions. He has assembled and empowered a team with attention to detail that embraces cutting edge technologies to create homes and communities at competitive prices. He is quick to share the accolades of his success with his team who helped propel Logan Homes to its success, including Vice President, PJ Kelly, who has worked for Logan for over 23 years, and CFO, Patrick Lennon, who arrived in 2010 with a wealth of construction accounting expertise.
The founder’s son, D. Logan, Jr., now the company’s sales and marketing director, also followed an entrepreneurial path, Logan, Sr. says, “My son was a salesman from early on. When he graduated from high school, he came to me and said, ‘I don’t want to go to college with my sister … I want to join Logan Homes.’” Remembering his own beginnings, he decided to give Logan, Jr. a try. “He’d started out at an early age—13 or 14—working on job sites during the summer. When he was 16 or 17, he started out as an assistant superintendent. I put him in sales three to four years ago, and now he’s the sales manager. He’s an incredible entrepreneur,” Logan, Sr. says.
Logan, Sr.’s daughter, Mary Catherine Santos, also works for Logan Homes in pre-construction operations. “She is incredibly efficient in ways that I never was, and very good with permitting. She is excellent with the nitty-gritty details and working with municipalities,” Logan, Sr. says.
“My dad is extremely driven and extremely passionate,” Logan, Jr. adds. “D. Logan is no slouch. Yes, he’s built a successful $100 million a year company, but he’s in the details daily. He knows every single in and out of every single warm body in this office. It’s very rare for the president of the company to still be that intimately involved. It’s not that he’s scared—it’s that he loves it. He’s itching to be in every single detail.”
Logan, Sr. agrees. “I love what I do.”
On Top of the World: The Colen Family’s Legacy
In 1947, the late entrepreneur Sidney Colen founded On Top of the World Communities, Florida’s oldest privately-owned land developer. “As a child of the Great Depression, he wanted to build a good, secure life for his family. Development and building also fulfilled his own very entrepreneurial drive. (It was) a perfect match-up,” says Colen’s son Kenneth, who has served as president of On Top of the World since 1981.
Sidney Colen’s vision was to create “a community of great scale that would not only support expansive amenities, but would also support an arts and education component. He understood that the arts are the highest and most noble expression of human creativity,” Kenneth Colen says.
Even the greatest visionaries need to start somewhere, and Kenneth’s father “literally built his first home and sold it (to the chagrin of his in-laws, who thought he should move into it with his new bride and start a family).”
After years of quality homebuilding and development, in late 1975 Sidney Colen purchased 12,500 acres of land in Ocala, FL, based on a handshake deal, with the details written on the back of an envelope—and the company’s flagship retirement community was born. Today, On Top of the World’s Ocala community offers a stellar range of amenities, continues to fulfill its mission to protect the environment through conservation easements as well as partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and builds eco-conscious “Water Wise” homes and yards. The community also features Circle Square Cultural Center, The Ranch Fitness Center and Spa, a farmer’s market, and a range of retail outlets.
On Top of the World operates a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational foundation, Master The Possibilities, which “offers residents (and non-residents) the opportunity to continue to expand their educational discovery horizons, to develop skills in a range of arts, by active participation. It’s one thing to be passively entertained, and entirely another to be actively engaged as a creator,” company president Kenneth Colen says, echoing his father’s passion for arts and education. “There is a great give and take, a sharing of ideas and dialogue that can be very engaging. Participants take an active role in determining class offerings. If there is interest in a topic, MTP will make it happen.”
This resident-driven approach is also visible in On Top of the World’s “maker space,” home to a woodworking and metals shop, as well as their R/C Flying Field, another resident-led initiative. “We have the land, they have the interest, and it’s a beautiful marriage of the two. With over 140 R/C club members, the original concept of an airfield continues to evolve, and now includes a drone obstacle course as well as a radio-controlled car track,” says Colen, whose sister Leslee plays an active role in community management at the company’s Clearwater, FL, location. The siblings’ cousin, Robert Colen, serves as On Top of the World’s Director of Warranty Services in Ocala.
Under the next generation’s leadership, On Top of the World continues to offer thoughtfully-designed, energy-efficient homes in welcoming, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Starting in late 2019, the company plans to return to its roots, with a new single-family housing development featuring green space and an extensive trail system.
“Home building and development are noble professions,” Kenneth Colen says of carrying forward his father’s legacy. “When done right, they have tremendous power to influence people’s lives for good and for many years.”
Longtime Miami residents Stuart and Nancy Iliffe wound up at the Florida community of the Villages of Citrus Hills through a slip of fate—and now they’re living the dream.
“It was an accident, believe it or not,” Nancy says, laughing. “We never expected to retire. We lived in Miami—we’ve been married for 37 years—and we never even thought about retiring. It’s so hectic there, we were so busy … then we took a trip with another couple to Disney World. Our kids were gone—we thought, let’s go and enjoy it ourselves.”
Close to Home But Worlds Apart
While they were at Disney, the other couple suggested that the Iliffes join them for lunch at a nearby community, where the husband’s sister was planning to move. The Iliffes agreed. “When we looked at the numbers, and what the difference was going to be in our living expenses, we thought—wow, we could retire right now.”
Back home, the Iliffes were doing some online research, and came upon the Villages of Citrus Hills. “We decided to come and have a look. As we were driving in, we said, ‘We’re not buying, we’re not buying, we’re not buying. It’s just a look-see,” Nancy says. “Well, we drove out with a lot.”
Nancy knew her way around Florida real estate—she’d been a real estate agent for over 40 years. She wasn’t easy to impress, but the Villages of Citrus Hills managed to do just that. “The minute we drove in, those big magnolia trees and the hills … it’s a beautifully designed property,” she says. “I’ve worked with developers for years, and I’m very familiar with construction and property sales. We were able to get exactly what we wanted. We went to a model, liked it very much, took the design home to our own architect, and made little tweaks and changes. For a price, we able to retire comfortably.”
Must Have Golf
Nancy’s husband, Stuart, was in the golf business, and it had become a hobby as well as a profession. “He was the distributor for Titleist for South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico for many years,” Nancy says. “He’s a good golfer, and it’s important to him.” The two wanted to retire in a place where they weren’t going to have to sacrifice their lifestyle, and knew that they couldn’t afford to do that in Miami. At Citrus Hills, however, they could live the retirement of their dreams.
“We just joined the club here, with a full membership. My husband is playing golf three days a week. He’s played everywhere, even in the U.S. Senior Amateur twice, and he says this is a really nice facility,” Nancy says. “We can’t be happier with what we’ve done.”
The Pace at Citrus Hills
Retirement definitely hasn’t slowed the Iliffes down. “We’re always busy with something. Tonight we have Trivial Pursuit with friends,” Nancy says. “I’m playing golf, which I haven’t done in years—I’m playing nine holes with three girls in our neighborhood, which I love. I’m picking up bridge again, which I really like. And I just joined the Newcomers Club—in June, I’m going on a beginners’ kayaking trip on the Rainbow River.”
Citrus Hills‘ sense of community has also made a big impression on the couple.
“We’re all transplanted from somewhere else, and everyone on our street is so welcoming. We’re like family already, and we’ve only been here permanently for six months,” says Nancy, who loves to entertain and recently hosted a dinner party for 16 at the couple’s Citrus Hills home. “We’re really overwhelmed with it — it’s so enjoyable.”
What is multigenerational living? This community is a great case study.
Located in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Lake Naomi Club is the only Platinum Club of America, 5-star rated, private family resort destination in the Northeast. With all that it has to offer—Pennsylvania’s top-rated tennis complex, two Olympic-sized outdoor pools, boating and fishing on one of the largest private lakes in the Poconos, a sailing program, a multifaceted community center, and a wide range of planned activities for kids and teens—it’s easy to see why.
But Lake Naomi’s allure goes beyond its phenomenal amenities. It is that rarest of Shangri-Las—a place where multiple generations come together to build memories, sharing experiences that they will pass along to their children… who, in turn, will return to Lake Naomi Club when they have little ones of their own.
“My family first brought me up there as a young child in 1984,” says Lake Naomi Club homeowner and member Andrew (Andy) Bacon. “When I was in second grade, that was my first year there. From my perspective, what’s great about it is a number of folks we’ve known for a lifetime, much like family. It’s very much a community where the kids know the grandparents, the parents, and each other.”
A competitive person by nature, Andy is very much into the sailing program. His son is now six, and has begun sailing at Lake Naomi Club as well. “When I was a kid, up until when I was in high school, we went up there every summer. We’d pack the car and leave New York City,” Andy says. He attended college at Old Dominion University in Virginia Beach, a further distance from Lake Naomi, and so didn’t have much of a chance to visit until his mid-twenties—though his sister went to a local Pennsylvania university and spent a lot of time at the Club. “When I came back after having been away for years, it was like I never left from a friends and family perspective.”
Andy’s parents own a house at Lake Naomi Club, and five years ago, Andy and his wife purchased one as well. “I do the same thing I did as a kid. We leave July 1 and return home September 1, spending two months up there,” Andy says. Luckily for Andy, his job is flexible. He works for a technology integrator, so all he needs is Internet access to get his work done—giving him the freedom to spend time with his son, Jake. Andy’s daughter, Mary, is just nine months old, so she hasn’t had the opportunity to experience many aspects of the Club yet—but Jake definitely has favorite activities.
“He really likes the camp program they have there. It’s fantastic,” Andy says, referring to Lake Naomi’s Kids Klub. “He likes the golf course they installed a few years back, a little driving range where you hit balls into floating islands in the pond. He loves going to the lake and the pool, likes the freedom, loves taking the bus to camp, loves seeing his friends. The group of friends that my wife and I are friends with have kids as well, so we all come together.”
Another benefit of homeownership at Lake Naomi Club is the shared sense of responsibility. “It takes a village to raise the kids. If I’m sailing and they’re hanging out—if there’s 10-12 kids, as long as there’s one adult, everyone keeps an eye out for what’s going on. There’s definitely a feeling of family with the folks that are there.”
The active lifestyle at Lake Naomi Club exists in sharp contrast to the way many children spend their summers—glued in front of a screen. A friend of Andy’s at the Club has two daughters. After eight o’clock one summer evening, the girls came inside after a long day of having fun. They wanted to do something different, and one of the two suggested they play video games. “They said, ‘We haven’t played video games all summer,’” Andy says.
For Andy, the multigenerational element of Lake Naomi Club is deeply connected to the sports activities that the Club offers. “I can very vividly remember playing golf with my grandfather, with my father, now with my son. It’s the same with sailing, the same with swimming. The sharing of that sport activity, whether it be sailing, golf, tennis, whatever it happens to be—the life sports and community sports aspect is really what makes the multigenerational piece stick. It’s not like you’re just sitting around the house on the weekends. You’re integrating your life with your parents and with your kids.”
Lake Naomi Club is located in the pristine Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our Members have continued to bring their families to Lake Naomi-Timber Trails since 1963. The charm of the individual homes and properties in Lake Naomi and Timber Trails, the country club quality of the sporting and social facilities, the planned activities for all interests and ages and the great variety of ways to live the seasons' pleasures with friends and family are some of the reasons that Lake Naomi-Timber Trails is a Five Star Platinum Club Community.
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A Gem in the “Hart” of Greenville, South Carolina | Hartness Development
“We’re building inheritable homes… that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”
Just a few short miles from downtown Greenville, SC, named #3 Small City in the USA by Conde Nast Traveler and “One of the South’s Best Cities” by Southern Living Magazine—you’ll find the charming community of Hartness. Named for the family that owns the land on which the community sits, Hartness is designed according to the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development—walkable streets, a wide range of homes built to last, and a Village Center, complete with restaurants and shops. Within five minutes’ walking distance from every home, you’ll find an amenity worth visiting—whether it’s a thoughtfully-designed park, a hardscaped plaza, or the Village Center itself. The community also features 180 acres of nature preserve threaded with 15 miles of trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, or just getting lost in the beauty of Greenville’s countryside.
The Hartness family could have chosen many different paths for the 400+ acres of land they’ve called home for decades. In fact, Thomas “Pat” Patterson Hartness and his wife Mary Lou Hartness still live on an estate located on the property that Pat began acquiring in the 1970s. Instead, they chose to develop the land themselves, to create an idyllic retreat just 15 miles from the heart of downtown Greenville.
“We are fourth-generation Greenville folks, and we saw so much development going on around Greenville—other than the downtown area, which was revitalized in a very thoughtful way,” says Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Development. “There’s a lot of sprawl going on, traditional suburban development … There’s clearly a better way to develop property in a sustainable way where we preserve special places and the natural landscape. We really want to give back to Greenville and show that there is a better development pattern.”
The Hartness’ Greenville legacy began in 1940, when Pat’s father, Tom, purchased the local Pepsi-Cola bottling rights—an endeavor that led to the evolution of a successful packaging company with a wide network of global contacts. Pat became the CEO of Hartness International and Sean served as a senior executive before the family decided to sell the company and pursue other avenues—and they are on track for the Hartness community to be just as vibrant a venture.
“It’s naturally an attractive piece of property. There are two streams running through the land and 13 fishing ponds that have been here for generations. People used to pay to bring their boats out here,” Sean says. “The property used to be a large cattle farm. It was really countryside until the time that my father started to acquire the property. To his credit, he has literally planted hundreds—if not thousands—of trees.”
Sean gives a great deal of credit to architect Lew Oliver, who has worked with Hartness Development on land planning as well as vertical architecture. “We’re building inheritable homes, homes that you would see in downtown Greenville or downtown Wilmington. They’re multigenerational assets that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”
Currently, Hartness Development has a boutique hotel that’s about to break ground—but, like everything in this community, it’s unusual in the best of ways. The home where Sean grew up – and where his father and stepmom still live until they move into their new home in Hartness – will be integrated as part of the hotel’s welcoming front entrance and main lobby area. “My parents could have sold it, but it represented the heritage of our family, and the fact that my dad has lived there for almost 50 years,” Sean says. “We saw this as a great opportunity to repurpose a family asset into something that would be desirable not just for the family, but for the greater community at large.”
Hartness Development is a true family affair. Sean’s brother, David, works in the real estate industry and has been an active part of the development process. Pat and Mary Lou are involved on a strategic level, working with Sean on a regular basis and driving through the property to witness as their vision of an intimate, walkable, beautiful mixed-use community becomes a reality. “Our intent is to take certain aspects of the preserve, have gardens, and grow food for the restaurants in the Village Center,” Sean says. “We have a real desire to curate this project in a way that’s world-class. People will hopefully come here to see this project and say—wow, these guys really did something special.”
The community will feature a number of defining amenities including a central park, sidewalks and pedestrian greenways, unique streetscapes, a commercial center with restaurants and shops, a clubhouse with fitness center, a swim complex, tennis and pickleball, a boutique hotel with spa and a 180 acre nature preserve with 15 miles of trails. Come see 450 acres of beauty in Greenville, SC.
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There is something magical about watching a tiny turtle emerge from its egg and wobble, awkward but determined, toward the sea. Add in the fact that baby sea turtles use the light of the moon to navigate toward the water, and you’ve got a truly mystical experience—except for all of the hazards that these pint-sized reptiles must confront along the way. Enter: sea turtle conservation.