Well Past Go

Below is an article written by Kimberly Pierceall in the Press Enterprise, May 24, 2006


ON BOARD: Monopoly taught Coachella Valley developer Mickie Riley all he knows. . . almost.

Mickie Riley‘s only clue that his future would involve leading a home development company came from a board game.

“No bragging, I always won at Monopoly. … It’s pretty much what we do now. We buy land, we improve it, we mortgage it, we take risk. Sometimes we pass go, sometimes we go to jail,” he said, laughing. “No, we don’t go to jail.”

Riley didn’t intend to be a builder, but when the surfer moved from Sacramento to San Diego, he realized that working inside a restaurant defeated the purpose of living in paradise.

Starting as a carpenter in 1971, Riley advanced to project manager and senior manager to support his family. More than 30years later, he’s still in business for his family, now largely employees at his $63million development company, Rilington Communities.

Hansi, his wife of 24years, is his business partner. Four of his six children work in his new Cathedral City headquarters and two others in San Francisco, a painter and a musician, have helped decorate model homes and design Riley’s Web site.

Riley sensed the housing shift in the Coachella Valley and recently moved his San Marcos development company to Cathedral City, convincing nearly all of his 40 employees and family to follow.

Rilington owns 1,850 lots in the Coachella Valley and built the Palazzo, Prado and Bella Canto developments in Indio and Coachella. The company is currently building homes in Palm Desert’s Dolce and Coachella’s Pasa Fino.

Q: Proudest career accomplishment?

A: Putting together this company, with this group of people, with my family involved in it. . . .We started the company with a credit card. The Rileys came out of a two- bedroom farmhouse and that will never be forgotten.

Q: What advice would you give other executives?

A: In my earlier career, if I failed for any reason it was because I wasn’t only naïve but I was too positive. When you get too positive, sometimes you don’t look at the pitfalls.

As an executive or a business owner you really need to look at your business like the military. You always have to look at an exit strategy.

When you look at a deal, when you look at an opportunity, you have to look at what happens if it doesn’t work out. Can I get out of this thing whole? Can I pay back investors? Can I pay back my lenders? Can I fulfill my commitments even if I don’t make a profit? Is it going to bury my company?

Q: What do you do to retain good employees?

A: We have a company event every month. Sometimes it can be as simple as a pot luck and a movie in our conference room. Or it can be a baseball game. We have this bowling league. It’ll go for three months and then we’ll start something else.


It’s offering them education. It’s offering them housing. . . . Financially we’re generous. People make good money. … If there’s a soccer game, or a recital, or a spelling bee I sort of expect the parents to be there. If it’s in the middle of the day … we’ll figure out how to get the work done. You’ll make up the time. I’m not worried about that.

So I think it’s that kind of flexibility that makes a big difference. People are safe. Q: How does being located in the Inland Empire affect your company?

A: (The Coachella Valley) is a new market, it’s a new frontier. And even though the market has been here for some time, it’s really just taken off the last five to eight years, if that.

Q: What’s the most important thing you do every week?

A: Spend time with my wife. . . .There are the guys out there that really have no relationship with their wife and family whatsoever and they’ve been hugely successful. At the end of the day, in my opinion, that’s not true success. . . .Find somebody that you can talk to. Seriously, because the kids are going to grow up. Ours have. Our dogs are wonderful but they don’t talk back to you.

* * *


TITLE: President and CEO COMPANY: Rilington Communities

TYPE OF INDUSTRY: Residential development

LOCATION: Cathedral City


Rilington Communities Offers First Gated Single Family Housing Development in the City of Coachella

Cathedral City, CA – Rilington Communities, a Coachella Valley home builder based in Cathedral City, has recently begun sales of single family homes in the first gated residential development ever in the city of Coachella. The new community – known as Prado – is receiving rave reviews from families seeking innovative design and high quality construction at attainable prices. The Prado community, located Avenue 50 and van Buren in Coachella features five distinctive floorplans with up to six bedrooms and up to 3,339 square feet of living space.

“We are so proud of this beautiful new gated community, which I think is the highest quality subdivision in the city of Coachella to date,” stated Mayor Pro Tem, Juan DeLara. “There were several challenges in the planning process, but the project came to fruition in the best possible way because of Mickie Riley’s (Rilington CEO) vision, commitment and belief in the city as a great place for people to create a traditional neighborhood and raise their families.”

Rilington Director of Sales, Kathleen Ahlgren, notes that the company’s focus on building family oriented neighborhoods compelled them to include the gated entry feature to create a higher level of security and enhanced sense of unified ownership at Prado than has existed before in the city. “We are a family owned and operated builder for families and we wanted to make Prado a special place to showcase what can be done in Coachella, which is an up and coming city that is home to hard working, closely knit families that care about building a sense of community.”

The city of Coachella is a special place for Rilington Communities because it was the site of the company’s first new home community – known as Bella Canto – in the Coachella Valley after the company relocated its operations to the desert

Bella Canto Groundbreaking

On August 2, 2003 The highly respected Southern California builder, Rilington Communities, broke ground July 24th on Bella Canto, its first Coachella Valley neighborhood.

On hand for the event were Mickie and Hansi Riley, principals of Rilington Communities, Juan DeLara, Mayor, Rosanna Contreras, City Council Member, Steve Brown, City of Coachella Neighborhood Services Director and Gabe Papp, Acting Director of Community Development.

Mickie Riley welcomed guests saying, “We fell in love with the Coachella Valley the first time we visited. Our two-day weekends became three then four days, now we are shopping for a home here and plan spend more time in the valley. Thank you for embracing this community and giving us your support.”

A late fall opening of the model homes is anticipated. Bella Canto is composed of five unique floor plans spanning from an inviting single story design that encompasses 1,369 square feet and three bedrooms to a two-story home that spans to more than 2,000 square feet and includes five bedrooms or four bedrooms plus a den. A host of standard amenities are included while numerous options will also be offered.

Council member Rosanna Contreras addressing guests said, “The casita concept at Bella Canto is particularly welcome in Coachella. A large part of the city? population is composed of traditional families, often with a grandmother or mother-in-law living with the family. The opportunity to have a private casita will be well-received.”

A temporary sales information center is now open and staffed at the site, which is located at 50th and Calhoun. Presales are underway. Interested homebuyers are welcome to come by and view plans and lot availability.

A family owned and operated company, Rilington Communities offers decades of experience in all facets of the building industry and takes great pride in the high levels of personal involvement that go into every community it builds.

Playhouse Fantasy

Each year BIA Cares for Kids chooses one or more projects that have the greatest impact on the youth of San Diego County. This year BIA Cares for Kids partnered once again with Voices for Children, to aid abused, neglected and/or abandoned children who are dependents of the juvenile court system. The event entails constructing unique, one of kind playhouse for Playhouse Fantasy, a premier charity event that raises money to support Voice for Children. This is the second year that Rilington Communities has proudly participated in this program and once again brought in a respectable donation for this project. Our “Sugar Shack” was based on a little Plantation House, where laughing children run and play. With its forest green shingles and siding, Sugar Shack blends into the surroundings, making it a wonderfully secret and magical place. Oval inset windows, dormers, plantation shutters and pot shelves all add to the charm. Inside, a fold-out table handles snacks or games, and built-in shelves hold favorite books and puzzles. The turreted loft has commanding view, and tucked underneath is a cozy cubby with a hammock, perfect for daydreaming and reading.

Voices for Children; a court advocacy program helps children, abandoned by their families, through the court system.Local volunteers are recruited; screened and trained before taking an oath to become CASAs for the juvenile justice system. (There are more than 7,000 juvenile dependents in San Diego County alone). Once assigned they become mentors, friends and advocates for the children in their charge, working with legal representatives, social workers and families of the children assigned to them. CASAs make recommendations to the Juvenile Court Judge in formal reports and speak for the children in open court hearings, as they advocate for the best interest of each individual child they serve. It costs $1,000 per child per year to serve a child with a CASA. During the past year, Voices for Children served 3,335 children. To learn more about Voice for Children please call 619-569-2019.

Above information was taken from the BIA Cares for Kids 2002 Playhouse Fantasy Brochure.