Not denied: Raphael’s high school guidance counselor told her she wasn’t suited to higher education. She got a bachelor’s from Southern Illinois anyway. She started an apparel business and sold it before her first husband’s death.
arried: To developer Joel Altman since 2004
Recreation: Flying to meet their boat in the Caribbean and visiting islands such as Mustique, the Exumas, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Bart, where they snorkel, ride their personal watercraft and kayak. They also have four grandchildren between them.
Workload: “From August to Thanksgiving it’s crazy.” [Photo: Andrew Duany]
$105 million revenue.
Raphael knows how to work from tough spots. After her husband, Richard, died 10 years ago, she stepped in to run his RCC, a general contractor with $19 million in annual revenue that did interior buildouts for high-end retailers, spas and restaurants. She had considered selling the business, but employees convinced her that all they needed was someone to lead it — Richard had been the firm’s rainmaker. They could teach her construction. “I always believed if you’re in sales, you can sell anything,” she says.
Evidently so. She was Florida’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the real estate and construction category last year.
RCC works in 22 states. Longtime clients include The Cheesecake Factory, Morton’s, The Limited, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton. She can rattle off a list of employees who have been with the firm for more than 20 years, including Senior Vice President Rick Rhodes, who’s now a partner in the company. She did lay off a few people this year to cut overhead while gauging demand. The firm employs around 80, rising to 100 at peak times. “I take calculated risks every day, but they are calculated,” Raphael says.