Mike McNeel, who has been a project manager at Sandy Spring Builders for 13 years, says it’s “unheard of” for people to work for a decade or more for one employer in the home construction business. But he says he has no intention of leaving Sandy Spring Builders. It’s not just the fully funded profit-sharing plan Sandy Spring provides—something McNeel says he’d never been offered at any of the previous six or seven builders for whom he worked. Instead, McNeel says it’s the independence he’s given, combined with the assistance he knows is always available, that he appreciates the most. “They let us manage our jobs the way we see fit, and they ask the question: Is there anything I can do for you today?”
In the late 1980s, friends Mimi Brodsky Kress and Phil Leibovitz were operating their own home building company when they joined up with a small home builder and reincorporated as Sandy Spring Builders, LLC, with Leibovitz as the CEO and Kress as the COO. “Phil’s the big-picture guy and I’m the detail person—I make sure things are humming,” Kress says.
Today, Sandy Spring Builders has 25 employees and operates out of an Arts-and-Crafts style house in Bethesda. Meetings are held in the living room in front of the gas fireplace or around the island in the kitchen of their office. “Mimi and I have the same philosophy,” Leibovitz says. “It’s very important for both of us to be liked by people, and I think that reflects on our place of work.”
By Amy Halpern