They used their profits to reinvest in real estate, practicing a buy-and-hold strategy that they maintain to this day. Lindner and Gambal frequently partnered in real estate deals with the Pedases, Bernie Gewirz and with Jim Clark of Clark Enterprises.
The Lindners are so press shy that I considered it a minor accomplishment when I persuaded Eric, his brother Rusty, and Tad to sit down with me recently.
Rusty is deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, chairman of the Forge Company, the holding company for Colonial, and a member of the Federal City Council, an influential coalition of local business leaders. Forge is named for Serge Gambal’s home town of Valley Forge, Pa.
The Lindner empire is run from its main offices in Georgetown by Rusty, who consults in person or through e-mails with his three siblings, each of whom owns a significant chunk of the company. Meeting locations vary from the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton to sister Ann’s backyard barbecue in Northwest Washington.
The four siblings, all of whom live in the area, contribute a lot of brain power to the operations of the Forge Company. Rusty, 59, who lives in Georgetown, has a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins, a law degree from George Washington and a master’s in real estate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Eric, 55, who has law and business degrees from the University of Chicago, splits his time between a Warrenton, Va., farm and a home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Their sister, Ann, 52, has an MBA from UCLA and a master’s in social work from the Catholic University of America. She helps with personnel decisions. Gary, 57, teaches high school in Northern Virginia and has degrees from Stanford University. Gary is an amateur robotics designer and helps the firm with technology issues.
Eric, who two years ago sold a parking business that he ran in Poland, is the public voice of the family. He also has written a book about his volunteer work at Northern Virginia hospices called “Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life.”
I asked Tad, who comes from the same part of town where I grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., whether he had any regrets about quitting GW law school to tackle the parking business, which began with a $300 investment in a paved lot at 26th and E streets NW.
Not a chance, he said.
“I like the idea of getting money every day.”
And that Bender deal that thrust them into the big time?
It continues to this day.