Mentorship 2.0: Wally Seinsheimer has sold Dolphin Architects and Builders to Christopher Ibsen


JOHNS ISLAND, SC – A design-build company with decades of experience in the Lowcountry is changing hands in a unique way.

Wally Seinsheimer founded Dolphin Architects and Builders in 1990, ultimately building a collection of fine homes valued at over $200 million. At about the time the beloved local philanthropist and executive was ready to retire, a young business man raised his hand to help.Earlier this month, Christopher Ibsen stepped in as owner and chief executive of Dolphin. Armed with years of local experience (including successful stints at Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company and Porter-Gaud School), an MBA from Duke University and experience in construction management, he’s ready to lead Dolphin through the coming decades.

But he won’t do it alone; a key part of the sale was Seinsheimer’s agreement to stay on for three years in an advisory capacity. A similar model was recently tested in a Kansas community (, where a new generation of business leaders is encouraged to buy established businesses, and founders are required to stay involved for at least a year.

“Wally has been a valued mentor of mine for nearly 18 years,” said Ibsen. “I’ve always admired him personally, and respected the business and brand he built with Dolphin. In exploring a new opportunity for my career, this made perfect sense.”

“Christopher has terrific business savvy and drive,” said Seinsheimer. “He feels – as I do – that this company is all about its reputation, and its people. He deeply values the existing team, and having him here to guide Dolphin through future changes gives me the confidence to start the next chapter of my life.”

Located on Johns Island, Dolphin employs eight full-time professionals and numerous subcontractors. Homes designed and built by Dolphin typically range in value from $750,000 to $2.5 million, and can be found throughout the greater Charleston market.

“There is no signature ‘Dolphin’ style,” says Ibsen. “Rather, the homes we build reflect their owners. We listen closely to their wishes, and bring them to life. Wally assembled a great design-build team to make those dreams real; I’m thrilled to carry on the tradition, with continued guidance from the founder.”