Family Business Lessons Learned: A Wolf & Company Perspective
September 18, 2012
At Wolf, not only do we understand family business from the perspective of a trusted advisor to families and their businesses but also many at Wolf have worked in their own families’ businesses.
Ryan Gorman, resident in Wolf’s Springfield office, used to work in the factory of the novelty company started by his grandfather.
“As a large Italian family, we’d get together every Sunday for a big meal. It was a struggle to keep work out of the conversation, because it’s not easy to separate the business from the family,” says Ryan. “But, it was really a great experience to work alongside my family members to achieve a common goal. It helped make us a closer family.”
As part of his introduction to his family’s business, Ryan took on tasks in the factory that no one else wanted to do. This contributed significantly to the credibility he established with non-family member employees as a team player and not just the owner’s son.
“Working in every part of the factory, I learned the value of treating all employees as family,” says Ryan. “It’s not only the right thing to do; it also results in everyone working well together for the benefit of all.”
Angela Cerrone, a Wolf auditor, knows this well. Her father runs his own accounting firm where she and her brothers have worked. “What I learned from my father,” says Angela, “is that the biggest strength of a company is its employees working together to achieve the same goals.”
Angela also learned about the sacrifices every member of the family makes when the family is involved in its family business. “When I was young, it was hard to understand why dad wasn’t around on the weekends to play,” she says.
Angela’s mother comes to work at the family’s accounting firm after her full-time job outside of the family business. “She does billing and accounting. And, during the couple of weeks leading up to tax day, when the office is practically going ‘round the clock, my mother cooks dinner for the entire office,” says Angela. “It’s great to see how much that means to everyone.”
Amy Haraden, also a Wolf auditor, started working in the pharmacy opened by her grandfather when she was just fourteen. Even with a full-time career at Wolf, she still helps out on weekends and evenings.
“The most significant lesson I learned was that the key to the success of a family business is personal service and long-lasting customer relationships,” says Amy. “This entails building trusting, respectful, confidential and understanding relationships that last. These relationships multiply throughout the community.”
“It’s a source of real pride when something that is part of your family has a great reputation and a strong presence in the community,” says Amy. “But I’m always aware that the source of the pride comes from the hard work and sacrifices of our family.”
Dan DeVasto, Chairman, echoes this thought. Dan’s family owned and operated a grocery store in the center of his hometown. Dan worked in the store in varying roles from his early elementary school years through college. “I learned from a very early age the value of customer service and that if you take care of your business, your business will take care of your family.
Having worked in two different businesses owned by her family, Kara Courtney, offers her first hand perspective, “My grandfather founded Tasty Top, an ice cream shop located in western Massachusetts. The business transitioned to my dad who operates the seasonal business to this day. The family is quite committed to the area. My aunt opened a driving range directly behind the ice cream shop, and has successfully transitioned ownership and operation to my cousin. Growing up I pitched in at both my Dad’s ice cream shop and the driving range. It’s all for one and one for all in the family business.”
Alex Hintlian, an Information Technology Assurance consultant, has seen how hard his father works as third-generation CEO of Teddie Peanut Butter, the number one selling natural peanut butter in the northeast. “Working in my family’s company taught me that successful family businesses are built on hard work and long hours,” says Alex. “It’s never a 9-to-5 job and success comes from never compromising on your values.”
Vocatura’s Bakery is a century-old 4th generation family-owned business. Having spent his entire professional career at Wolf, Tom Vocatura speaks of his experience working in the family business. “I labored from age 5 to 21 in the bakery. Hard work and team work were instilled in me through my experience working with my family in the business.” Tom’s 93-year old uncle and several of his brothers and cousins currently own and manage the business.
Michael Tetrault a Member of the Firm in the tax department, shares what he sees as an important parallel between his work at Wolf and his family’s second-generation jewelry business. “Jewelry customers look for quality,” says Mike, “and when a customer comes in with a special need – the repair of an heirloom piece or the creation of something unique, they want the most experienced jeweler to help them. Just like the jewelry customer, Wolf’s clients want quality, and when things are tough, they want accessibility to the most experienced members of the team. Wolf’s service strategy delivers just that.”
First-hand experiences inform Wolf’s interactions with clients every day. Wolf & Company provides income and estate tax planning, financial reporting, succession and exit planning, acquisition due diligence, and information technology services to family businesses, including many that the Firm has supported through ownership and leadership transitions.
Wolf clients have access to the most experienced professionals in the Firm to help them find solutions to their pressing challenges and to identify and capitalize on opportunities. We understand family businesses because we’ve lived it.
Amy Haraden likens the lessons learned working in her family’s business to Wolf’s shared values. “Wolf’s philosophy captured by the acronym VIRTUE (Vision, Integrity, Respect, Understanding, Excellence) spells out the values of client and customer service shared by both my family’s business and Wolf exactly.”
Visit the Family & Closely-Held Businesses page of our website to learn more about our services to Family Businesses.
To receive information of interest to family businesses, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about our services to Family Businesses contact:
RYAN M. GORMAN, CPA
PRINCIPAL – AUDIT
JAMES P. KENNEY, CPA, MBA
MEMBER OF THE FIRM – AUDIT
MARGERY L. PIERCEY, CPA
MEMBER OF THE FIRM - AUDIT
MICHAEL J. TETRAULT, CPA, MST
MEMBER OF THE FIRM - TAX
CAROL E. TULLY, CPA, JD
MEMBER OF THE FIRM – TAX