Developer builds on ideas - East Valley Tribune: Business

Developer builds on ideas

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Posted: Tuesday, October 4, 2005 6:40 am | Updated: 8:00 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.


After three decades of development and construction, the last lot at Sun Lakes has been sold.

What started as Ed Robson’s idea to put double-wide trailers in a patch of desert south of Chandler has been transformed into Robson Communities Inc., an engineering, construction and development company with properties across Arizona and Texas. At 74, Robson isn’t sitting on his laurels and has current and future plans for residential communities aimed at both younger families and those 55 and older.

TOUGH BEGINNING: When Robson first started Sun Lakes, people "didn’t think we were using very good judgment. And for a while, we wondered whether we used good judgment," Robson said. The entire revenue for one month in 1975 was $1,000. "That market really helped me buy out my partners. I felt it (Sun Lakes) had some value," Robson said. "Without it, we never would have got started."

TRANSFORMATION: Robson decided to build traditional homes, instead of double-wide trailers at Sun Lakes. He used the appreciating value of the land and personal credit cards to fund his venture. His privately held company, based in Sun Lakes, now includes more than 800 employees and 117 entities, to plan, build and support the developments. Robson’s "business philosophy is to remove any uncertainty in the business process," said Steve Soriano, chief financial officer. "He does that through horizontal integration of all the critical aspects of master-planned developments."

SUCCESS: A father of five and grandfather of 14, Robson still oversees his company’s operations. "Having started from nothing gives me a lot of satisfaction. But it would have been a lot easier if I had done it the old-fashioned way. An inheritance." But he’s not all business. An athlete from his youth, Robson is an avid tennis player, "never misses a kickoff" for an Arizona State University football game, and supports youth sports. His four Maltese dogs, Missy, Molly, Pickle-Boy and Maxie, come to work with him almost every day.

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