A Lesson in all things Neyer – from my friends at Al. Neyer LLC

If I were as perfect as I’d like to be – a know-it-all whose shirt-tail is always tucked-in – I never would have met my new friend, Katy Crossen.  Former recipient of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s prestigious 40-Under-40 Award,  Katy is in charge of marketing and communications for Al. Neyer LLC and she sent me an email yesterday with the subject line:  “hello and coffee?” She wanted to get together this morning.  Early.  As-soon-as-possible early.  And I knew I messed-up something.

Neyer-page-001

Turns out “Neyer” is not one thing in Cincinnati.  It’s a lot of different companies, most of them competitors.  This is a picture of the last three generations of the Neyer family tree with their various professional associations.

Some of the other Neyer-but-very-very-separate companies are NeyerAdvisors, LLC (John R. Neyer), Neyer Properties (Dan Neyer), Neyer Management (John E. Neyer) and Neyer Building Development (Tom Neyer, Jr.).

Al. Neyer LLC has been around for 120 years and as of last year is owned by its 50 employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program.  Katy spent almost two hours talking to me about why she is so proud of her company and what they do for our community, the role they are playing in the future of this city.  Her boss, Jim Neyer, went down the list of 109 names I’d found on the Ohio State site for business registrations and only recognized one of them.  I don’t know what the name and address changes for those entities to a single agent mean – and I’ll check it out with the state. But for right now the most important thing is to share the classy way Al. Neyer reached out to help me (us) better understand the development process.

59 years old and I’m not perfect yet.  But if I was, would there have been a reason to have coffee with Katy Crossen?  Sometimes goof-ups lead to good things.

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14 thoughts on “A Lesson in all things Neyer – from my friends at Al. Neyer LLC

  1. Andrews, Cindi

    Kathy, I love your writing and I know your heart is in the right place, but this is a good example of why I can’t publish your writing any more. You keep making the same mistake: publish first, ask questions later. It’s just not responsible. It’s not enough to do research and write about it. You must talk to people — subject-matter experts and the subjects of your writing — to confirm what you think you’ve found and get the other side. BEFORE you write. Every time.

    My two cents’ worth.

    Cindi Andrews
    Opinion Editor
    The Enquirer and Cincinnati.com
    513.768.8305 | phone
    513.519.9410 | cell
    candrews@enquirer.com | email
    @cindiincincy | Twitter

    Reply
  2. Katy C

    Hi Kathy! It was great to meet you. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me and learn about Al. Neyer. We are excited to be a part of the Greater Cincinnati community and appreciate the chance to talk about it!

    Reply
  3. executivedreamer Post author

    Cindi, when I tried to get elected officials or paid reporters to look at my concerns about the transference of wealth I see going from the middle class to the wealthy in property tax records , I couldn’t get anywhere. So I decided to do the best I could and write a blog to start the conversation myself. It would have been nice to talk to me directly instead of commenting here in such a negative, public way that must be designed to disassociate yourself. But I’m thrilled to see the Enquirer’s recent attention to incentives and how we measure performance.

    We’re in the middle of a grand new reinvention of how the public gets information. Nobody knows the rules. They’re changing as I write this. The blog and the newspaper are not the same thing. The blog, like the internet that birthed the form, is an interactive vehicle. I do not pass myself off as a journalist or an expert in commercial real estate development. But there are people all around this city who are experts. I’m the leader of a conversation, not the authority, and I see my posts as a way to raise questions and engage citizens in a difficult, complicated, highly specialized topic. Whereas the print media – with it’s high costs of distribution and permanent record – HAS to get it right the first time, blogs can edit and correct – do guest posts, follow-ups and updates.

    What are my options, Cindi? Should I stop asking questions? Stop trying? My conscience won’t let me. But don’t worry, I’ll get better. This silly little blog I started thinking nobody would ever read it – they do. The industry is amazingly patient with me, really trying to help me do a better job. I’m developing long-term relationships and really cool partnerships with other organizations. We’ve already started to see some changes in the way decisions are being made and the type of questions we ask as a community.

    Give me a little more time, Cindi. In a couple of years I bet cincyopolis – for all its flaws – will have played a valuable role in the future of a city and citizen involvement.

    Reply
  4. Bill Collins

    Cindi Andrews is a good journalist who I respect. But, methinks that as member of the small (and shrinking) remaining group of paid full-time daily newspaper reporters, she does not (yet) understand what it’s like to start one’s own newsblog, develop sources from scratch, and publish.

    Kathy, you’re doing a great job. Of course you will make mistakes. Having started my own industry newsletter/blog in 2002 that grew to be quite successful (and actually generate good income for me), I know exactly how it feels to start from scratch, develop expertise, develop sources and get better and better at it.

    What is happening now, as you say, is that you are getting better and better at covering development/tax-incentive news in Cincinnati. Even better, you are developing dozens of new sources, sources who will increasingly start to give you “scoops” — scoops that will scoop the Enquirer probably time after time. So, don’t let one professional journalist’s unfortunate comments discourage you. From what I can tell — and I’ve been there and done exactly what you are doing — you are doing great!

    Reply
  5. Julie Zavon

    Think of these blog posts as regular installments of a television story: Kathy Holwadel searches for answers regarding publicly financed development projects in our city and takes us through her learning process step by step. The themes underpinning her search are transparency and accountability; the questions she’s asking are who benefits, and is it fair, not just “is it legal”, but is it fair, and is it desirable. She’s asking good questions about important subjects. Like any detective narrative, the dead ends and false starts are part of the story.

    Reply
    1. executivedreamer Post author

      Thank-you, Julie. That’s how I’ve thought of this adventure, like some television show. But I am learning. And this internet/blog thing is a different kind of responsibility. I suspect the best path lies somewhere between the standards set by professional journalists with every ‘t’ crossed and restaurant reviews on Yelp. Somehow, without suspecting as much, I have come to represent something more than Kathy Holwadel asking questions. I’m not even sure what that means – because there is never any reckless disregard of the truth ( a legal term I learned from Cindi today) NEVER – I am incapable of even a sin of omission and will correct any errors or misinterpretations as soon as I am aware of them. But what John and Cindi are saying, is that that is not good enough. I can’t raise questions without casting aspersions which is not fair – even with a readership that is nowhere near that of UrbanCincy or the Enquirer. Here’s the problem: I don’t even know what I don’t know, like when my husband asks why I don’t check a mis-spelled word in the dictionary. It looked good to me. There was no reckless disregard of the truth when I didn’t understand how complicated the Neyer business interests were. Katy started our conversation today with her chart, telling me it happens all the time. I am a normal citizen trying to learn about a very complicated world. Does anybody notice how most blogs focus on recipes and other more innocuous hobbies? Now I understand why.

      Reply
  6. JCS

    Kathy,
    While I appreciate your work and sincerely hope that you keep going, you need to take Cindi’s words to heart. As the saying goes, a lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.

    You are driving an important conversation about how public dollars are spent on real estate projects. Even when you are simply asking questions, people view you as an authority. Don’t stop asking questions, but do think about how the phrasing of a question or the posting of a single fact out of context can take on its own meaning.

    Reply
  7. Craig Hochscheid

    Cindi Andrews and company won’t ask questions that make our local power brokers uncomfortable. Keep digging Kathy, you are doing great work.

    Reply
  8. art gever

    for generalized purposes – for decades some of the neyers have had unsustainable irresponsible building development practices. that is the common thread. they (generalized/unspecified) have clear cut and swathed millions of trees & rural land. they have upset creeks & watershed areas scoffing at (even mocked & degraded) local environmental groups & individuals all through the 80s & 90s, as they made their millions. but then a few realized they could make money off of embracing green practices -because it was trending $trong elsewhere & $oon to be here. when i see one of them build a bullit center (of seattle) here i will believe any or one of them. they have caused a lot of bad blood and their janky developments abound.

    Kathy, the classy reach out as you so sycophantly shared, was a lesson in pure corporate prompting & coaching – nothing more. you took the bait. and you and no one at the enquirer is a vance trimble or gary webb. i reference those local names for a reason – they are remembered and respected. i suggest you start reading propublica posts, frontline, consortium of international investigative journalists,center for public integrity, ralph nader, bill moyers, etc to be a good investigative journalist. the powerful the wealthy – those in control, will always befriend/attack/co opt grass roots journalists and their message through “their marketing arm”.

    for you being a straight ticket republican is not a big deal. there is only one party locally and nationally in the usa, the demopublican duopoly party. they both answer to the same people mentioned above.

    have the turnip truck whip back around and pick you up.

    Reply
    1. executivedreamer Post author

      Hi, Art. You’ve obviously been paying closer attention to Al. Neyer, LLC and all the other Neyer entities than I have. And I agree wholeheartedly that Cincinnati should be better informed as to what such important companies. — I fully intend to better educate myself and as I learn, share what I learn in these posts. — BTW, I USED to vote a straight Republican ticket. That was when I was a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch until 2000. These days I’m more progressive. – Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your input.

      Reply
  9. Mary Anne Curtiss, M.D.

    It has been my experience that when multiple “sister” companies are set up, someone is trying to avoid responsibility for something they know they shouldn’t be doing. I agree with Art Grever and with Julie Zavon. Kindness and humility are good; thank you for your humanity. I mean that to all involved. AND for companies to have to publicly defend themselves in the press when they engage in such practices is great. “In the press” investigation of danger signs can go too far, of course, but in these issues, it has not gone anywhere near far enough yet.

    Reply
    1. executivedreamer Post author

      Oh, Mary Anne – I’m learning every day. Yesterday I spent 2 hours with a new developer friend of mine, having him explain how and why so many names are used. You’re right. We need to understand a lot more about how these things work. — When I didn’t even know the basics – like how many Neyer entities there are and how they are related or not related to each other – I thought it was important to acknowledge how Al Neyer reached out and go over some basics. Now we’re ready to ask more nuanced questions.

      Reply

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