Mark Weisner and Mike Schlegel at Bozzuto Headquarters in Greenbelt, MD.
You can’t talk about The Bozzuto Group without talking about Rick Mostyn. Together with Tom Bozzuto and John Slidell, Mostyn helped found Bozzuto in 1988. After 30 years, Mostyn is transitioning from his role as COO on April 1, but will remain with the company and continue to serve as Vice Chairman. Bozzuto Construction Company (BCC) President Mike Schlegel will become Bozzuto’s new COO, and Senior Vice President of BCC Preconstruction Mark Weisner will be the new BCC President.
As we chatted with Mostyn about his time at Bozzuto, he wanted to ensure we knew that the most important thing to him is how, “Over the years, we’ve been able to align ourselves, from bottom to top, with really good people that care about our company’s values and doing the right thing.” What he may not realize is how much his example as an honest, transparent and caring leader has influenced the actions of our teammates. His vision helped to create an environment where employees are encouraged to make decisions based on integrity and values. By listening to the people around him, assuring everyone is included and striving to do the right thing—not to mention his sense of humor and easygoing attitude—Mostyn has truly connected with partners, co-workers, residents and everyone else who has had the pleasure of doing business with him.
With a solid plan to help mentor and guide his successor, Schlegel, in hand, Mostyn foresees a seamless transition. When asked what he hoped to follow from Mostyn’s lead, Schlegel reflected, “Rick has an incredibly steady hand. And I don’t know if that’s something you just emulate—I think it’s something you learn to do over time. I hope I can follow suit to a certain extent in that regard. Unfortunately, you can’t copy intelligence. But, if he could leave a little bit of that laying around in the office somewhere, that would be great.”
Schlegel’s in luck, as a steady hand is something we’ve already seen from him during his 20-year tenure as BCC President. Mostyn agreed, adding, “Anyone who can bike 100 miles in a day is someone I’m impressed with. I think Mike is very reflective and thoughtful. Along with listening, he seems to be able to—under fire and under pressure—take a deep breath and capture all opinions, putting them together to create a good answer. He’s a great negotiator, a better negotiator than I am for sure.”
BCC Senior Vice President and Controller Dave Schorr explained how Schlegel is always looking ahead, focusing the team on a one- to two-year business plan, while working in the background on a five-year plan. Part of that plan includes being flexible and open to anyone’s ideas. “He’s very approachable and open-minded, but he holds everyone accountable. That’s how I think he progresses the company: by setting expectations and goals, and holding people accountable for them,” Schorr explained. By always looking for opportunities, Schlegel challenges everyone around him to switch things up and look at them differently. BCC Business Manager Caroline Sullivan commented, “I don’t think I have ever heard him say no to a proposal for a new idea or recommendation because he wants people to try new things and to create a culture where trying and potentially failing is not only okay, but expected.” This type of collaborative work environment encourages individuals to think outside the box. Schlegel leads by example; by being progressive himself, he has opened the door for his team to do the same.
An Unusual Start
Since joining the company in 1999, Schlegel has overseen the construction of more than 25,000 apartments and over one million square feet of retail, with an aggregate contract value of $4 billion. But that’s just the numbers. He’s also expanded BCC’s operations and geographic locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
However, most people don’t know that Schlegel didn’t get the job as BCC President on the first try. Before working at Bozzuto, he was a young Vice President at Clark Construction company, splitting his time between D.C. and starting up Clark’s multifamily office in Chicago. At first, the back-and-forth travel was a lot of fun, but after six months, the travel began to take its toll. Schlegel took a phone interview with Tom Bozzuto that went well, but ultimately ended with Tom telling him he was looking for someone with a little more experience.
Schlegel understood and continued working at Clark. A year later, he was working full-time in the D.C. area when he got a call about an opportunity at Bozzuto. When he told the hiring recruiter that Tom had told him he needed more experience, they replied, “Well Tom says you have one more year of experience now!” After about seven interviews, Schlegel got the job offer.
When he first started with Bozzuto, BCC was doing somewhere between $20 and $25 million in annual revenue. As Schlegel put it, he effectively went from having the role of our current Senior Project Managers, to a Project Executive, to a Vice President, to President—all while holding the same title. As BCC grew, expanding into different product types and territories, Schlegel’s responsibilities grew too. “If you really think about it, I may have had one title, but many roles within BCC. Whenever I look back over any five-year period within the company, it always looks dramatically different. We have always and will always continue to evolve. This is why I think it’s really important to focus on what you’re doing and the impact you are making and not so much your title,” Schlegel told us.
Building to Today
Integrity, intelligence, accountability and passion are qualities that are likely to come to mind when you think about a strong leader. Each is important, but the one that’s most important to Schlegel is humility. He believes you should never, not even for a moment, think you’re the smartest person in the room. You can see his practice of this belief by watching him listen to anyone. He’s attentive, eyes locked, head nodding along to reassure the speaker that he values their opinion. BCC Senior Vice President of Business Development Kelly Cantley said, “Mike’s leadership style is one of support and trust. He allows his team to do their job with a hands-off, but open-door approach.” This demeanor is most easily revealed by the way he uses his office. “Most people think it’s a conference room. In fact, he wants people to use it as such when he’s not around. When I first started at Bozzuto, he actually sat in a cubical most of the time,” Caroline Sullivan added. Trust is something that has helped Schlegel build the BCC team for the past two decades. He’s earned it through his laid back, personable approach that’s grounded in respect and as Schorr said earlier, accountability.
Under Schlegel’s direction, BCC’s annual revenue has grown from $25 to $400 million per year, moved from suburban wood frame buildings to complicated urban infill projects and consistently competes and wins against the biggest and best contractors in the country. How? He built a talented team and empowers them to do their best. When we asked Schlegel what he was most proud of, he answered, “There’s no single moment, but I think I’m most proud when something great happens inside BCC and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s happening more and more frequently today and those are really great moments.”
Among the talented team members Schlegel brought to Bozzuto is BCC President-to-be Mark Weisner. Like Schlegel and Mostyn, Weisner also believes the power of leadership lies in creating and nurturing a strong team. “When I think about leadership, I think about people who can really drive progress and change. It’s being able to have and articulate that vision, but not necessarily be the person that executes it. You don’t have to be the best player to be the leader of the team, as long as you can help motivate everyone towards your goal,” he reflected. Weisner has assembled several strong teams within BCC, paying attention to each person’s capabilities and encouraging everyone to work together in utilizing their individual strengths.
Weisner joined the Bozzuto Family in 2005, when BCC was just beginning to do more high-rise concrete work. He has since been instrumental in many projects and company growth, especially bringing organization and protocols to the preconstruction team. Cantley laughed as she admitted, “It’s a rare occasion when you find that Mark doesn’t have the answer. In fact, I’m not sure I recall this occasion at all! He is very approachable; people trust and rely on him for his knowledge and candor. When he says something, you know you can count on it being reliable.”
To show exactly how Weisner exemplifies the Bozzuto values, Schlegel shared a story with us. “One time, we were competing against all the major contractors in town for this deal, and in our initial interview, the client mentioned he liked fresh eggs. When we came back for the follow-up interview, Mark brought him a dozen fresh eggs from his farmette.” This small act of kindness allowed the client to form a personal connection with Weisner, and it became a pivotal moment in that deal.
“You never know when these details are going to come up and matter. Because he remembered, it was a genuine gift. It was thoughtful, and inexpensive, but it was meaningful,” added Schlegel. Weisner shrugged and insisted he just remembered what the client said and grabbed the eggs. “I think that’s what makes us different as a company—we want to have that personal connection. You’re going to work with the client for two to four years, and if you don’t like them it can make for a very long four years, so finding that connection is always important for us,” explained Weisner.
What to Expect in the Future
Weisner is excited about the opportunity and challenge of doing something new. He said, “As I look out on the construction industry, it’s absolutely ripe for disruption right now.” With technological advances in mind, he wants to keep BCC at the forefront of multifamily and mixed-use innovation. Mixing that with operations, preconstruction, business development and continuing to bolster the team, Weisner foresees having a lot of exciting things to get him out of bed in the morning.
“I think we’ve done a lot of great things at Bozzuto Construction Company. But, we’re hardly finished yet—in fact, we have a long way to go and I’m excited about Mark taking it through the next few steps,” said Schlegel, who has also started to think beyond ways to move BCC forward. The COO-to-be has been considering new ways to lead and influence the entire company. He is spending a lot of time talking to different people throughout each division of the company, learning about their different strategies and innovations. Through them, he sees a huge opportunity to further expand our One Bozzuto approach. “We need to be doing a lot more sharing of ideas and building off each other’s successes or trials and errors so that we don’t make the same mistakes. I’m really excited about doing that moving forward in terms of operations within the organization.”
Schlegel and Weisner have been extremely successful at elevating their teams, embracing the Bozzuto values and following the example of Mostyn and our other founders. We can’t wait to see how they will continue to grow and create something extraordinary for the company in their new roles.Learn more about our Executive Leadership