Love in the Workplace: The Neals

We have mutual respect and admiration for each other’s intelligence and individual strengths. Jeff Neal

By Kathleen Swift

Q: How long have your been married and worked together?

Carolina: We’ve been married for 17 years. While living in Costa Rica, we worked for different organizations.

We moved to the US in 2002, and Jeff worked for a nonprofit for about two years. These are the only times we didn’t work together.

Since we moved to the area and purchased the Columbian Building in 2004, we have been working together in historic preservation.

Q: What role do each of you play in your business?

Carolina: We make most of the business decisions regarding the everyday management of our companies together, from developing all phases of our own projects to dealing with our customers and jobs.

Nevertheless, we have some jobs we do separately. I am in charge of the accounting, and I also do the marketing of the companies and projects.

Jeff: I focus on the operations of the companies, planning construction work, purchasing of materials, dealing with subcontractors and codes officials.

Q: What is it like working with your spouse?

Carolina: I would say it is an “all-in-one experience.” Not everyone can do it, and it depends on personality types and maturity.

We both are risk-takers, doers, leaders and dreamers, but our personality types complement each other very well. When I need someone to balance my impulses, Jeff is there for me, and when he needs someone to keep things in perspective and real, he can count on me for that.

Jeff: We have mutual respect and admiration for each other’s intelligence and individual strengths. We know we need each other to do better in all aspects of our life, and work is just one of them.

We are not the perfect couple; we have our bad moments, too, but one rule of love is basic respect. When things get heated, we look at each other, take time to cool off and try it again.

Q: How do you separate work life and home life?

Jeff: Our main challenge is to keep the family time safe. For us, it is very hard to stop talking about business at home. Our line of work is unique, very rewarding, but can be stressful, and sometimes we let those emotions come home with us. Thankfully, our son, Nicolas, and daughter, Sofia, help us to see this behavior. They inspire us to work together as parents.

Carolina: I have learned having an office at home is a bad idea if you want to separate family life from work life. My recommendation for couples that work together is to have a place for work completely apart from your house.

Q: How do you keep romance alive?

Jeff: Romance, after nearly 20 years together, is more a conscious state of mind and active choice than it was at the start of our relationship. We know each other better, and thankfully, continue to be amazed by each other. Yet, there are still times when Carolina takes my breath away.

Carolina: To paraphrase Michelle Obama, “Seeing Jeff being a good man and a good father for our kids is a powerful aphrodisiac.” We are romantically in love with each other, our family, our children individually, our work and the impact that has on our community and all the possibilities we can imagine for the future.

In one word, we keep dreaming. That is how we keep the romance alive.