Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lessons From My Dad....

Just enjoyed a Father’s Day lunch with Vicki and Mac.  They each endured my favorite Mexican ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant, El Matador, which has the best authentic Mexican food around.  (Even though the place won’t win any restaurant design or decorating contests).   Anyway the lunch was great and it was nice to be appreciated and see other dads out to lunch with their families

Each year when I call Dad on Father's Day, I try to tell him something that I appreciate about him.  Often, I’ll talk about valuable lessons he taught me through the years…and there were many.   The best lessons I learned from Dad were about business.  He is a true entrepreneur with an outstanding work ethic and a good ‘gut’ for business deals that will be winners.

Dad (L) with me, Steve, Molly & Charley
Early in his career, he recognized the value of franchising.  Indeed, even in the 50s and 60s, the mortality rate among start-up businesses was high.  (SBA still has it at over 75% after 5 years in business).  Dad recognized that in franchising you were in business for yourself but not by yourself.   Dad’s years with Ben Franklin, owning at one time up to 5 stores, were full of great memories.  During those years, all of us kids worked in the stores…as baggers, checkers and stockers.  Having to handle money at an early age was valuable as was seeing the discipline that was needed to be a success in business.  Through all the hard work, Dad made it fun.

As WalMart and K-Mart began to take over the retail world, Dad recognized that this business was not going to make it long-term.  Wisely, he liquidated his stores and turned a going out of business sale into a major profit center.   Another lesson learned:  Make lemonade out of lemons.

Next, Dad found Subway Sandwich Shops.  Back in the early 80s, everything about this franchise made sense to him.  It was the ground floor.  The corporate support was strong and he liked the franchise system that helped the business owner be successful.  So, without a day of restaurant experience, my dad and his partner went to ‘Subway U’ in Connecticut and learned the restaurant business.  20+ years later, Subway and my father have been successful.

So, as I celebrate Father’s Day, I’m very thankful for not only being a dad myself, but also for the blessings I’ve received from a dad who is a great teacher.  I hope my son remembers me in a similar way. 

-Pete Thomson