Two brothers from Scotland have been honoured for the rapid transformation of their business at an international ceremony in the United States.

Martin and Stephen Sweeney were among 10 inducted into the Legacy Education Alliance (LEA) 2019 Hall of Fame this past weekend at the M Resort in Las Vegas. The winners were selected from hundreds of nominees across the LEA network, which provides financial education to students from more than 100 countries and territories around the world.

The brothers head up Sweeney Group, which owns the Rhino Contracts construction business based out of Hamilton. Trading now for more than a decade, Rhino provides design, build, refurbishment and maintenance services to the commercial and public sectors.

However, it was Martin and Stephen’s successful efforts to broaden their business that earned them their place in the LEA Hall of Fame.

Using the capabilities within Rhino, Martin, 39, and Stephen, 35, have built up a portfolio of buy-to-let properties across the west coast of Scotland. They specialise in the revival of derelict buildings, bringing them back to life as modern family homes.

This “added-value” approach led to the recent successful completion of a conversion in Kilmarnock town centre, where five new flats have been created in a former council building. Vacant for the previous 12 years, the building will now be returned to use as part of wider regeneration efforts in the area.

A further string will be added to their bow later this year with the opening of Sweeney Rooms in Motherwell, a collection of nine high-spec serviced apartments and rooms in a former guest house in the heart of the town. This is the first of what is expected to be several such developments, with the group currently looking at potential sites in and around Glasgow.

The brothers have funded their expansion into property development through a combination of cash flow, commercial financing and backing from a collection of private investors who receive a fixed return on their investment. Martin and Stephen describe their strategy as one of “uncovering opportunity” where others are unable to extract value.

Collecting the Hall of Fame award earlier this month (Saturday OCT 12), Stephen said: “It is great to receive this acknowledgement of all the hard work we have put in to building a sustainable business for the future.

“Much of what we do is about regeneration, and bringing people back to living in our town centres. But Martin and I haven’t done this on our own. The support from our wives and parents since the start of our journey has been immeasurable.

“We are thankful to everyone who have helped us to get here, and those people who have invested their money in our projects. And of course I also have to give a big thanks to our team back home who put in all the hard work that brings these buildings back to life.”

Induction into the Hall of Fame is LEA’s most prestigious award, created to honour those students who have achieved extraordinary success in their journey of financial education.

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