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How Couples Who Work Together Find Success at Work & Home

"How Couples Who Work Together Find Success at Work & Home"The Shaham’s of Coral Gables, Florida have been working together for 36 years building a successful group of senior living communities throughout Florida and abroad. Working together as a married couple can be stressful, but the Shahams have a found a way to be successful in both business and marriage.

Spotlighting Helen and Jacob Shaham of The Palace Group

  1. A division of responsibilities

The Palace Group’s management and operations responsibilities are divided by the couple’s strengths.  Jacob is the visionary. He selects future Palace sites while overseeing financial and legal aspects.  Marketing, architectural and interior design, customer service, the hospitality and human resources are among Helen’s oversight. They both are heavily involved in construction decisions and development.  Helen may be at a site frequently to review construction aspects in the design of the building and units while Jacob is involved with the general contractors.  The couple recognizes when specialists are needed and hire top talent while outsourcing consultants as well.

  1. Respect the talents of one another

“We would not be able to build The Palace Group without the respect and trust in each other,” said Helen.  We disagree and fight but in the end we hear each other’s point of view. Reflecting on the company’s original partnership with Lennar, Helen explained that she needed to be convinced it was the right move at the time.  When Jacob explained that without the deal they couldn’t do it alone; it was better join together and initially build The Palace Suites he was able to convince her but the final decision took two years.

  1. Build a case by putting it in writing

Even though they are together, Helen finds expressing herself in writing helps explain her point of view.  “When I want something I find the best way is to write it down to build my case,” said Helen.  It may take the form of a 5-10 page letter but it’s the best way to explain my point of view.”

  1. Make it a family affair

We wanted our children to be exposed to what we were doing. Dinner was like a board meeting because we had so many issues to discuss about The Palace. When the kids left for college, we were building The Palace Tel Aviv and without the children, dinner was watching the 8:00 news to learn about Israel.  Now at dinner we really don’t talk about work.

The couple’s two sons are involved in the company—Zack is the Executive Director of The Palace Gardens, the assisted living community in Homestead and Haim is the Director of Sales for The Palace Coral Gables.  Their niece, Liat Cohen, is Corporate Human Resources Recruiter.

  1. Opposites attract

Helen finds she is the pessimist while Jacob is the optimist. She wakes up and thinks what can go wrong and what disasters can occur but Jacob balances her. He can look up at the sky in the morning and enjoy the beauty of the day.  In the morning she’s learned to not start talking about the problems they may face that day and enjoy his perspective.

  1. Spouses aren’t competitors

It’s not a matter of ego and neither has to be right.  Working together means everyone will take credit.  Jacob can tell Helen to cool off and do one thing at a time rather than six.

  1. Have separate hobbies and interests

While Jacob enjoys golf and playing courses where they travel; Helen is an avid reader and finds a fitness fanatic.  She logs her steps walking each day.  She enjoys estate sales and has collected many of antiques that are used in Palace communities.

  1. Hands on business

Helen and Jacob usually can be found at one of their communities. “We make an effort to be accessible to our employees and talk and listen to them. We try to have lunch with not just managers but our hourly employees too.  It’s not unusual to invite manager to meetings at our home as well. We make a concerted effort to learn about everyone,” said Helen.

The Palace Group has a lower turnover rate of employees than many other companies in the senior housing industry due in part to family’s accessibility, continued interest and investment in their employees.  Helen personally interviews every manager.

She also enjoys time at the construction sites and is recognized by workers with her pink hard hat and sneakers.

  1. Hold on to family traditions

Regardless of their schedule, its tradition for the family to come together for Friday night (Sabbath) dinner and usually 20-25 may gather at Helen and Jacob’s home.

  1. Be crazy in love with each other

The couple has been married 36 years.


"How Couples Who Work Together Find Success at Work & Home"The couple emigrated from Israel in 1980. Jacob had served in the Israeli Air Force and Helen was the controller for a hotel chain.  Their first acquisition was a 21-bed assisted living facility in Opa Locka.  Today, they have two communities in Homestead and the new Palace Gardens will replace the existing Palace Gardens when it opens this summer.  The Kendall campus offers a full continuum of care from independent and assisted living to skilled nursing and rehabilitation. The Palace Coral Gables is a luxury high rise with independent and assisted living and The Palace Weston was their first active adult condominium which now is called The Palms.  In 2005, The Palace Tel-Aviv was opened, Israel’s first continuing care community.

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