Michael Battle and his three brothers represent the third generation at the helm of their family business in Miami Lakes. The fourth is not far behind.
Tell me about your grandfather, Ben Battle, who co-founded the business in 1921.
He passed away at 50. I heard lots of stories from my father. My grandparents left Rockwood, Tenn., in the early 1900s and came down to South Florida to get into the real estate industry. That evolved into the insurance industry.
He must have been a prescient guy.
That’s where the boom was. There was movement in South Florida, and he decided that’s where he wanted to be. The family’s been here ever since.
Who’s the oldest among the brothers?
I’m the oldest. We’re each about two to three years apart. Tim is next, then Bob, then Patrick. We all went to different schools, and we all decided to come into the business. We each own 25% of the firm. My father, Ben Jr., retired and recently passed away.
What’s it like to work with three brothers?
My father had some foresight. He actually gave us different areas to oversee.
Talk about prescient.
Yeah, exactly. Each of us oversees a different area of the business, and together we operate the business as an executive committee. Skirmishes occur from time to time, but nobody’s breaking down walls with a baseball bat. Now we just agree to disagree.
Are there other kids coming along?
My daughter, Bailey, 24, just graduated from Florida International University. She’s the first college graduate of the fourth generation. Maybe she could develop our social media platform. She’s going to seminars at a couple of institutes here in Miami. I think we’ve hooked her.
What do you do with your down time?
Raising the children was the predominant impact on our time all these years [another daughter, Taylor, is 22]. I play golf regularly. We have a boat. We do a lot of landscaping at our house. Leslie does most of it, but I’m the manual laborer. I like to work with my hands.
What kind of boat?
It’s a 33-foot Mako, a fishing cuddy. It has a little galley and a head. It’s a 15,000-pound boat, so going through the Gulf Stream is no problem. We basically use it for cocktail cruises and fishing. We take it out into Biscayne Bay. We’ve taken it to the Bahamas.
You’re also involved with Habitat for Humanity in Miami.
I got involved in the early 1980s. Now I’m going into my second term as chairman. Miami is a big town, and our chapter has not kept up with the need here. I’ve been pushing the chapter to build more homes, so in the past two years, we’ve doubled the number of homes we build per year. We went from barely 50 to 91 this year, and we’ll be over 100 next year.