This is the first in our series of articles by our members. Thanks to Anthony for sharing his story.
by Anthony Lambatos
Co-Owner, Footers Catering
I grew up thinking that I would never be in the catering business. My father founded Footers Catering 30 years ago and I remember working events and bussing dishes beginning when I was 12 years old. Throughout high school, the company provided an incredible opportunity for me to learn how a business runs and the pressures that fall on a business owner. I also saw the flexibility that the business provided my Dad and I envied his control over how the business operated and how quickly changes could be made. After college and spending some time working in other organizations, I was still hesitant to work full time for the family business. I didn’t necessarily want to work in the food industry and I was nervous about working for my Dad.
I remember feeling immense pressure on day one, six years ago, with everyone looking at me, assuming I would have special treatment because I was the boss’s son. I knew that meant I would have to work twice as hard just to prove that I belonged, not to mention that more than 80% of family businesses fail in the second generation. What I quickly realized was that my father and I had different visions for where the company should go and how it should be managed. It is differences like these that many times tear family businesses apart. For us, this caused a lot of heartache and I was close to leaving the company on many occasions. As a young business professional, I was out to prove that I knew all the answers and what I found was that I had a lot to learn. Once I opened myself up to the experiences my father had been through and the ups and downs of other business owners, I began to understand what it really takes to run a business.
I was fortunate that my father eventually allowed me to make decisions within the company and supported those decisions. I was able to create the culture I wanted, without compromising the foundation of what my father had built. It was at this point in 2010, I knew I was ready to purchase the business with my partner, April Fullom. We were ready for this company to truly make the transition to the second generation and create our own identity.
Working in a family business can be extremely difficult, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. I have immense pride in carrying on the tradition of what my father started. Every day I wake up determined to prove the statistics wrong and to make Footers Catering better than ever.