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Family Matters

Especially when they’re ducking work


When I’m at conferences, out and about within the franchise community, sometimes people ask me how my sons feel about me writing about them in this column: I often use my life at home as a way to break the ice with readers. With two boys, it’s not too complicated to come up with a good story now and then.

Our college student Ben has a history of being low-key, so most times he doesn’t even read the column—he cares, but really not that much. High schooler son Sam does care, even going so far as to tell me he wanted to star in my column more often. “Be careful of what you wish for,” I warned him.

So it took me by surprise that while home on spring break, Ben had a bone to pick with me concerning my last column, which highlighted family business—I wrote that I didn’t know if Sam and Ben could ever be in business together, given their latest performance shoveling snow. “You made me sound terrible,” he said. “I don’t think I really did that.” My point in the column was that both boys wanted it to be fair and were more concerned about their brother’s shoveling performance than their own.

About two days after Ben’s complaint, as we readied to have family over for dinner, I asked Ben to vacuum. He got up from his chair, pulled the vacuum out of the closet, and asked, “Where’s Sam?” After I indicated he was downstairs playing a video game, Ben walked over to the basement door, opened it and yelled down, “Hey, Sam, time to come up here and help us.” I stopped in my tracks, because I clearly saw the irony of the scene, and Ben did not. “What?” he asked, when he saw me smiling at him. “Snow shoveling column?” I asked. “Ring any bells?” Ben smiled; he is generally a good sport.

So I promise, FT readers, that this is my last column highlighting family businesses, although Franchise Times will continue to cover them in upcoming months. I thought of this latest scene at my house after I read Executive Editor Nancy Weingartner’s story on the Black family, owners and franchisor of Super Wash car washes. Jennifer Black and her younger sister, Susan Black-Beth, grew up working in the car wash for their mom and dad. It wasn’t always fun, and they even protested about doing the work. (Sound familiar?) All grown up, the women now help run the business, comfortably finding their roles among their mom, dad and uncle. Read Nancy’s story and learn about what makes it all worthwhile.


Mary Jo can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at mlarson@franchisetimes.com


We are also pleased to bring you our annual Fast 55 feature this year, which ranks the fastest growing young franchises. Thanks to research firm FRANdata for compiling the data, which is no easy task. We have an interesting list this year, starring brands like Lillians Shoppes—open four days a month and selling unique clothing and accessories to the fashion- and cost-conscious—and Pacuigo, the makers of delicious gelato. I always love the variety of business sectors represented on the list.

What is especially interesting in this year’s ranking is the number of health care-related brands that made it. Senior care, massage, chiropractic services, and even lab test services graced the 2010 Fast 55. Apparently, health care is not only on the minds of our legislators, it’s the sector of choice for many franchise owners. Check it out.

There’s much to tell you when it comes to association news, as well. At deadline, we learned Matt Shay, president of the International Franchise Association, had resigned, and we are reporting on the formation of the International Association of Franchisees & Dealers—not to be confused with the American Association of Franchisees & Dealers—but with many of the same faces.

And, I can’t forget a feature on business and consumer services that covers businesses such as clothing consignment shops. Suddenly, “gently used” is hip, especially if a chi-chi brand name is attached.

Once again, the editorial staff has outdone themselves, giving you an issue so jam-packed, you won’t be able to put it down. And when I receive mine in the mail, I may not put it down, either. I may just gather it up, lest Ben see himself featured once again.

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