A change in course turned Beverly Raphael into an award-winning entrepreneur
BY CHARLYNE VARKONYI SCHAUB
When Beverly Raphael’s husband, Richard, died in 1998 at 53 of a brain tumor, she had a difficult decision to make. He had devoted his life to building his business, RCC Associates, a general contracting firm in Deerfield Beach that constructs high-end retail stores and restaurants. Should she sell it? Allow others to run it? Or run it herself?
Raphael had co-owned a sales rep business that sold to boutique clothing stores, but she had no experience in construction. Her daughter, Lindsay, who was working at RCC Associates when attending college, said: “You need to go in there. You know how to run a business.” Employees also urged her to try it for a year and pledged to teach her what she needed to know.
Fourteen years later, the business is thriving and so is she. Raphael, president and CEO, was recognized as Ernst & Young Florida Entrepreneur of the Year in the Real Estate and Construction category. She received the Sun Sentinel’s Excalibur Award and was inducted into the Nova Southeastern University’s Huizenga Business School’s Hall of Fame.
RCC Associates has built restaurants such as Piñon Grill and Racks Downtown Eatery + Tavern in Boca Raton, chains such as Cheesecake Factory and Morton’s along with retailers such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s.
Are you treated differently because you are a woman in what is perceived as a man’s business?
In the beginning, people didn’t know how to respond. Our competitors tried to take advantage. They would refer to us as a girls’ club and said, ‘She has no experience in running the company.’ I would hear that and it fueled a fire in me. The more I heard that nonsense, the more I wanted to make sure to prove them wrong and succeed.
How did you cope with the building turndown?
Our restaurant business didn’t slide a bit. It stayed very strong. Maybe it’s because even when times are tough people want to go out and escape and be in a wonderful environment.
What did it mean to you when you got the award from Nova?
It was surreal. It was the culmination of everything I had been through in the past 13 years – losing my husband, making sure I was making the right decision, getting my daughters [Lindsay Raphael and Robyn Dynam] through college.
Anything else help you?
I was fortunate seven years ago to marry Joel Altman, a residential developer whose niche is high-end rental communities. He understands the ups and downs and we have been a great help to each other.
RCC Associates, 255 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, 954-429-3700, www.rccassociates.com