Siblings find success as home builders
Working with family each day may be a nightmare for some, but Sarah Lavine-Kass and Ben Lavine, siblings and co-owners of Stone Acorn Builders in Bellaire, have found it makes their business stronger.
“Our relationship enriches the business process as opposed to detracting from it,” said Lavine-Kass. “It gives us a little more stability to try things. We have a strong relationship to fall back on.”
When Lavine-Kass moved back to Houston after college, she was working for a law firm and flipping houses on the side. Eventually, she decided to turn her spare-time remodeling into a business. Ben, who was working in a management consulting and investment banking at the time, joined her shortly afterward.
“There’s a level of trust that you probably wouldn’t experience with someone who’s not family,” he said. Lavine-Kass tends to handle most of the design work and client relations, while Ben primarily takes care of the financial and operational side. “I enjoy (the design)part, but the beauty of being siblings is I can trust that Sarah will do fine,” Ben said. “Whatever look the client is going for from the beginning, Sarah kind of gets that,” Ben said.
Form him, one of the most rewarding parts of the process is when customers say they haven’t experienced any of the stress that can accompany custom building. Lavine-Kass said they strive to mitigate any anxiety by communicating with clients daily.
Occasionally, Stone Acorn Builders constructs showcase houses through the Southern Living Custom Builder PRogram. The proceeds from admissions support nonprofits. Their 2012 showcase home benefited the Friends of the Bellaire Library and the Houston Center for Literacy. Their current project benefits Operation Finally Home, a housing project for disabled veterans.
The siblings don’t just build homes in the area; they also strive to be a part of the community. Sarah serves on the project advisory team for Condit Elementary School’s rebuilding plan and volunteers with schools, while Ben coaches for Bellaire LIttle League and volunteers with Boy Scouts of America. “We want to to be part of where we’re building and help make it a better place,” Lavine-Kass said.
About Sarah Lavine-Kass and Ben Lavine
Ages: Sarah, 44; Ben, 38
Occupation: Owners of Stone Acorn Builders
Community Connection: The brother-sister duo own Stone Acorn Builders, a home construction company in Bellaire.
Fast Fact: Lavine enjoys running, but his sister considers herself more of a “knitting junkie.”
Story by Leah Schmalz | Week of July 31-August 6, 2014; Houston Chronicle, Faces in the Crowd