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March 30, 2023

Family-Owned Business Awards 2023 David S. Brown Enterprises


Howard Brown said his father — the man he named his company for — dipped his toe in retail but was a home builder at heart.

Location: Owings Mills

Employees: 221

Number of generations: Three

The kind of buildings you probably think of when you hear David S. Brown aren’t the kind of buildings the actual David S. Brown was all about.

Howard Brown said his father — the man he named his company for — dipped his toe in retail but was a home builder at heart. Howard Brown, who worked on those for him growing up, pushed expansion into office and retail.

“One morning he wanted to know if I could sleep at night,” Brown said. “I looked at him and said, ‘What do you mean? Why can’t I sleep?’ It dawned on me that my father was risk adverse.”

Being the guarantor on the kind of projects his son had in mind? “He was allergic to that,” Brown said. “He said why don’t you just take it and run with it and create your own company?”

That’s what he did in 1973. He said his father slept fine.

David S. Brown Enterprises quickly amassed a portfolio. Brown was building the company’s headquarters around the time David Brown Adler was born. That grandson is now a principal at the company.

David’s brothers, Aaron and Noah, work there, too. Their sister, Sarah, teaches but her grandfather said he wouldn’t be surprised if she joins one day. Brown’s son-in-law Matthew Schoenfeld is in-house general counsel.

Their star project at present is Metro Centre off Interstate 795 in Owings Mills. The Willard, with 227 one- and two-bedroom units, had a grand opening event slated for this month. That’s near Metro Centre’s Marriott hotel, which opened in 2021. A new 12-story luxury residential tower, a 124-room extended stay hotel and a 100,000-square-foot spec office building at Metro Centre are in design, Brown said.

Brown is also focused on shaping the campus of neighbor Stevenson University –an endeavor he views as a way to give back. About 117 acres of ball fields will be dedicated in April. “We’re also building a 44,000 square-foot library for Stevenson and we’re designing a 400-seat performing arts center,” he said.

David Adler said Brown used to carry him up ladders when he was 3 or 4.

“I’m very fortunate — our whole family is very fortunate that Howard, our grandfather, has continued to build and work every single day,” he said. “He is determined to never stop.”

Adler said Brown is clear that retirement isn’t an option as long as he’s having fun.

“For me, that means I get to work side by side with him,” he said. “That’s not only the best time you could have, but the best education you could get.”