Michael Cole’s Message Upon Retiring in 2013
By: Michael Cole
What seems to be a change is, in fact, no change at all. Before explaining that statement, let me briefly review Cape Associates’ history. Les Langhans had a building company with two partners in Corning, NY. They built mostly large commercial projects: high schools, churches and the like. In 1970, Les decided that he did not want to stay in Corning. He sold his share of the partnership and moved here to his cottage in Eastham which he had owned for many years. He spent a year building a permanent home for his family and in April of 1971, he incorporated Cape Associates. The business began in the basement of that home and consisted of himself, his wife, Lois, as secretary, his oldest son, Trip, and one or two others. Meanwhile, after having worked several summers here in Eastham with Jeanne Langhans, at what was known then as the Pancake Kitchen, I asked her to marry me. It still remains the best decision I ever made. (I do want to clear the record though, that I asked her before I knew about Cape Associates.) Jeanne and I knew we wanted to stay on Cape Cod. Les Langhans offered me a job as an apprentice carpenter and I gladly accepted. In late 1975, when Trip decided to change careers, Les asked me to join him in the office and become vested in the ownership of the company.
In 1978, we built the original building at 345 Massasoit Road in Eastham. Figuring it was time to get out of the basement, we wanted to show people that we were a legitimate, professional building company. By the mid ’80s we had grown significantly and hired the first non-family employees to join us in the office: Will Swift, Henry Taintor and Mark Kinnane. In late 1985, Les decided that it was time to retire. He had developed a transition plan for Cape Associates and by 1986, I was the majority owner and President.
In the 1990s we opened a second office in Barnstable, which is now the Yarmouthport office and developed a major presence in Provincetown.
A few years ago, it became evident that this company was too big for one person to run alone. So we formed the Executive Committee whose purpose is to share the responsibilities of managing the company and to train the future leaders of Cape Associates. The Executive Committee consists of myself, Mark Kinnane, Matthew Cole and Rich Bryant. We meet once a week.
For future ownership, we needed a plan for transition, just as Les had developed one nearly 30 years ago. I met with Jeanne, Lindsay, Matthew and Casey and we all agreed that we wanted Cape Associates to remain a family business. We like our company values. We like the company we have developed. We like our commitment to our employee based company and we want to continue to provide very good, secure jobs for our employees and to construct exceptional projects for all of our great customers.
Following Les’ example, Jeanne and I have been selling our Cape Associates stock to Lindsay, Matthew and Casey over the past several years. On January 1, 2013, they became the majority owners of Cape Associates.
But here is the most important part of this message. On January 2, 2013, everything about the company remained the same. It is the same family owned business with the same values and commitments to our employees and customers. I think Les would be very pleased with this second transition.
Today, Cape Associates has over 110 employees with four divisions: custom building, property management, services, and painting, and we are proudly serving all of the communities of the Cape and Islands.
Going back to the beginning of this message, what seems to be a change, is in fact, no change at all. I will be around for anyone who needs me. My 40 years have been rewarding and fulfilling because of all of you reading this, and I thank you for that. I am ready to retire my alarm clock. I look forward to watching Cape Associates continue to grow and flourish as it has and I look forward to all of you supporting and encouraging this next generation.