Last Days of Eichler Homes - Page 4

A great building machine hits rock bottom—when Eichler's urban high-rise gamble toppled his company

Some local money broker, who I viewed as a very sleazy character, showed up one day with Charles Parr and Bob Bryson. And I said, "There's nothing to buy here." I thought, "Why would anybody in their right mind do this?" But Bryson claimed that his big creditor had money available, and he could work this out. I think Bryson was a con man who conned himself, then conned Parr, who was connable. Parr was a relatively innocent guy, with a modest amount of money, who wanted to be a big shot at something. I bitterly argued with my father against making this deal. He may have been right in an odd, psychological sense. A lot of people could decide that the downfall wasn't my father's fault. And I thought that was okay.

My father's mood oscillated between depression, and illusion—and I think this is true of lots of people in that condition. Bryson and Parr, in some sense, were an illusion. I understood in part what my father was going through and what he was doing. And I was angry at him at the same time. When we finished Geneva Towers, I resigned from any other duty with the company. Whatever else was going on, other than Geneva Towers, I had nothing to do with. And then the company under Parr and Bryson went bankrupt."

Bob 'R.J.' Parr:
Son of Charles Parr, Eichler Homes President, 1966-'68

"When Joe Eichler knew that the 'ship was sinking,' I believe he tried to bring in someone that he truly believed could turn things around. Unfortunately, Joe's 'rose-colored glasses' kept him, in my experience and opinion, from allowing my father Charles to fully take control financially and do what he should have. It appeared that Joe did not know what to do, and just could not let go.

My father spoke of ego clashes with Joe—fantastic blowups that Charles would come home from, and then recount every gory detail. Then, after all was said, we would ask why he would continue to work with Joe. My father said, "That hardheaded SOB is a genius. All geniuses are egoists and pay the price for innovation.

Everything appeared to be in place to turn the company around. The only thing that did not work was Joe's withholding operating capital. So, if you can't build, can't sell, and can't spend some of the existing moneys to pay off debt and indicate forward movement, how can a company survive? This was, according to my father, what Joe Eichler really wanted: simply to buy some time."