Suburban building pioneer dies in Florida

Chicago-area homebuilding pioneer Ronald J. Benach, 90, recently died in Boca Raton, Florida, where he lived, his family said.

Benach, founder of Lexington Homes and several other homebuilding companies, died May 6. Services were held in Boca Raton and another private service is planned in the near future for family and friends in Chicago.

Benach started out working for Hoffman Homes, but before long he was branching out on his own. In 1962, he found a piece of property in Schaumburg Township and formed 3-H Building Corp. with his friend, Stewart Grill. The company started by building $15,000 to $20,000 single-family homes, but expanded its appointments and product line to the point where it was delivering more than 1,000 units a year. By the time 3-H was sold to U.S. Home in 1972, the company had closed more than 6,000 Northwest suburban homes.

After the 3-H sale, Benach decided to start another company and invited his friends Bill Maybrook and Peter Bianchini to join him in launching Lexington Homes in 1973. The company's first endeavor was a "coach home" community in Schaumburg.

Over the next 15 years, Lexington Homes grew from a three-person operation to more than 300 employees and closings of more than 1,200 units a year. By the time the company was sold to Westinghouse Credit Corp., Lexington Homes was producing more than $240 million in annual sales and had built 15,000-plus homes.

Following the sale, Benach and other former Lexington executives stayed with Westinghouse. But by 1992, Ron was ready to set out on his own yet again. Bill Maybrook and Wayne Moretti joined him, and together they established Concord Homes. Concord closed just 20 homes its first year of operation, but by 2002, it had built more than 7,000 homes all over the Chicago area.

In 2006, Benach started his fourth venture, which was the second iteration of Lexington Homes. Today, the firm continues its success as the largest private homebuilder developing in both Chicago and its suburbs, specializing in row houses in urban infill and suburban downtown sites as well as boutique luxury single-family home communities.

"The only thing my dad loved more than the homebuilding industry was his family. There's no one who taught me more about this business, and I'm so lucky to have worked alongside him for all of these years," said Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes.

Benach's career spanned more than six decades and 50,000 homes built, as well as commercial and residential developments in rental and for-sale niches, the family said.