Douglas takes his time if need be. Roger loves deadlines. Douglas is artistic. Roger is practical. Douglas admires fine craftsmanship. Roger is awed by big, sweeping projects.
Who are these guys?They're the Knight brothers, a pair of twins who went into construction in Utah and made quite a mark - but each in his own way.
Roger is president of Knight Brothers Construction, a general contracting operation specializing in giant projects and speedy deadlines that don't sacrifice quality. Number of employees: 90. Annual corporate income: $30 million. One of his signature buildings is the huge new Incredible Universe in Sandy, a $9.5 million job that was completed in 180 days.
Douglas owns Douglas Knight Construction, a residential construction firm that emphasizes "concept building," or fine custom homes built with particular themes. His houses feature careful craftsmanship and range from $600,000 to $1 million or more. He is the only person to win three consecutive "Best of Show" awards in the Greater Salt Lake Parade of Homes and has won more Home Builders Association awards than anyone in the area.
But for all their differences, the brothers are alike in many ways.
"One similarity," Roger said, glancing at his twin, "is that we're both big-picture people. I think we both have a tendency to see the broad spectrum."
"We're also similar in our ability to be good at selling and marketing," adds Douglas. "We're not hard sell, but we're pretty direct and to the point in selling."As teens they got a real life taste of construction work when they spent warm weather months living on the Jeremy Ranch putting up barns, fences and anything else that needed building or repair. Their father, James Knight, also bought a West Valley farm to raise quarter horses, and the boys soon were turning chicken coops into stables.
The sense of mastery and accomplishment that emerged from that kind of work stayed with both Knight twins and influenced later career choices.
Douglas pursued pre-med studies for veterinary science at the University of Utah but left to work for older brother Craig Knight doing carpentry. Later, Douglas went into real estate.
Selling real estate proved to be a natural for him, and Douglas was one of the first lifetime members of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors' Million Dollar Club. He then turned to commercial real estate and later went into home construction with Roger, with Roger doing the building and Douglas the marketing.
They were a good team, but the two took different paths. Roger began Knight Brothers Construction with brother Craig, and Douglas branched out into his own custom home business.
Douglas did his first custom home in 1989 for the Parade of Homes and had two Parade entries in 1991.
Then he won Best of Show each year in 1992 (for "Harold and Lola's), 1993 (for "Somewhere in Seattle") and 1994 (for "Secluded in Salt Lake.")
While his homes carry a high price tag, Douglas has gone on record saying he hates gaudy, opulent houses. What he likes is a thoughtful design that fits the home's environment and exhibits fine craftsmanship. He especially likes working with a specific theme.
He's proud of a new home just built in the Avenues for the Primary Children's Medical Center Benefit Home Show that runs July 12-24. It features four houses near the old Primary Children's hospital on 12th Avenue between D and E streets.
"These are gorgeous homes, very Old World and craftsman like. They epitomize the essence of the Avenues," Douglas said.
For his part, Roger studied marketing at the U. but also left to do carpentry work for brother Craig and then went into home construction. In 1980, he formed Knight Brothers Construction with Craig and embarked on commercial construction. That year, the company had one employee and did $250,000 in business. Things have grown ever since.
"I deliberately sought commercial construction," Roger said. "I had been in the homebuilding business since the early '70s and I felt I'd be better dealing with businesspeople. I also had experience doing some commercial remodeling.
"I always wanted to do the big buildings," Roger said. "I looked at them and said, `Holy heck! One day I want to do that.' "
A few Knight Brothers Construction projects: a 29,000-square-foot Draper building for Utah Disaster Kleenup; a 29,766-square-foot PayLess Drug Store in West Valley City; a 27,120-square-foot Salt Lake office for Garaventa CTEC; a 10,000-square-foot hangar for Mountain Air West; a 12,000-square-foot building for Bonneville Equipment; and Solano Vallejo Villas, a planned unit development in Moab.
Roger also has other divisions, including a residential construction firm called Your Home Builder that creates entry level and first-move-up homes.
For all their respective success, the brothers note that they didn't inherit big bucks or land - which some people think is the case. The Knights' parents gave them a strong work ethic and good values, but all the businesses were created from scratch.
Brothers are competitive by nature, yet still close to one another, and the situation is even more pronounced for twins.
"We've always had a relationship where we're the best of friends and at the same time we're extremely competitive with each other," Roger said. "He supports our business and I support his business by giving good recommendations and referrals. There isn't any negative competition there."