Trading Places: Undercover Bosses

Five B.E. 100s CEOs who bravely stepped into their employees' shoes

Michael V. Roberts, co-CEO, Roberts Bros. Properties L.L.C. (Photo: Greg Kiger)

MICHAEL V. AND
STEVEN C. ROBERTS
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

Michael V. and Steven C. Roberts say they try to make employees feel as though they’re stakeholders. “This isn’t a job—it’s a part of their lives. They are here more hours than with their families,” says Michael.

The Roberts brothers, co-CEOs of the Roberts Bros. Properties L.L.C. , own a majority stake in 12 hotels, several broadcast radio and television stations, and, until recently, several wireless communications towers. But their empire started out in their hometown of St. Louis, where they now own three city blocks in the downtown district. They’re also responsible for building shopping centers, schools, and residential housing in blighted urban communities. “We go into urban areas because everyone else has tended to abandon them to a degree,” says Steve. “Why not go in and make a difference?”

Steven C. Roberts, co-CEO, Roberts Bros. Properties L.L.C. (Photo: Greg Kiger)

While they could afford to do business from the new 25-story, glass tower in downtown St. Louis, which they’ve just completed, they instead insist on keeping their offices on Martin Luther King Highway down the street from where they grew up. Whether they are physically moving furniture and cleaning rooms side-by-side with cleaning staff, or sitting next to employees in training sessions, Michael says that their continued involvement in the company boosts employee morale. “We make sure that everyone here becomes family and acts like it. That is part of the genesis of our success.”         

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