In celebration of Leadership Geauga’s 25th Anniversary Year, we thought you’d enjoy reading about a few of the many alumni whose Leadership Geauga experience is helping them make a positive difference in our community. In March, the Class of 2020 would have experienced Business Day, so our profile is of Mike Payne of Payne and Payne Builders, Inc. This profile was authored by Paige Orvis (LG 2000)


Mike Payne is a second generation leader in the family business Payne & Payne Builders, Inc. He entered the Leadership Geauga class of 2009 at the urging of his father, Frances “Mike” Payne Sr. (LG 1999) and his brother, Eric Payne (LG 2003).

Mike Payne Jr. will not assert that joining Leadership Geauga at the bottom of the economic downturn of 2008 saved their business, but it certainly did not hurt. The recession was a difficult time for businesses everywhere, and Payne & Payne sustained their share of losses. But their creativity, resilience and willingness to do “any job” carried them through to higher ground.

“The networking was very good,” said Mike when asked what he gained through Leadership Geauga. “I made new friends, and met many community and government leaders. And I must admit I gained a few clients.”

He is hesitant to say how life and work have changed since participating in Leadership Geauga, but since graduating, Mike served as Chair of Northeast Ohio Green Building Initiative for two years and has been on the executive committee of Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland since 2010.

Leadership training offered through Leadership Geauga falls in line with the Payne and Payne philosophy of workforce development. In 2009, they employed a business coach to guide them through their business growth. Expanding from a small family business to employing a staff of 30, the Paynes have instilled a work ethic that encourages pride in the quality of work and satisfaction of their clients.

On November 7, 2009, in San Diego, California, the Custom Homebuilders Committee of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) named Payne & Payne Builders as its 2009 National Custom Home Builder of the Year, the highest honor bestowed by the NAHB for custom home building. They have received many other awards since.

Payne & Payne is a family owned full service “design and build” firm that was established in a home office in 1993. In 2000, as the business grew, they purchased and renovated the historic “A. B. Carlson Building” on the northeast corner of Mayfield Road and Fowlers Mill Road. In 2002, this building and neighboring 19th Century structures like Fowlers Mill gained distinction as the Ohio Historic District “Fowlers Mill Historic District.” Ohio Historic District plaques are displayed in front of the Payne and Payne office and at the Fowlers Milling Company. The Payne & Payne offices and this historic district are now a regular stop for Leadership Geauga classes on Heritage Day.

“Leadership Geauga’s goal is to inform, educate, connect, and inspire leaders in our community,” says Mike Payne. “Not only did they accomplish that during my class year, the program continues to offer me and my business those same benefits 11 years later.”

Mike Payne lives in Chardon Township with his wife Gina, their daughter Jadah and son Joseph. When not leading a business he is busy coaching baseball and softball for his kids.