Most people don’t want to go into business with their family. Sure, everyone loves their family, but spending at least 40 hours per week together on top of holidays? Now that’s just inhumane.
Yet there is one family-owned and operated business, where children are kind to their parents and parents, cannot stop boasting about their children. That business is O’Brien Garage Doors. O’Brien Garage Doors is a family-owned and operated garage door company that provides residential garage door services including repair, sales, installation services, and more. Whether your overhead door or operator needs to be repaired or you need to buy new ones, the service and sell all brands and models of quality garage doors and automatic garage door openers. O’Brien has been proudly serving its customers for over thirty years and is dedicated to providing them with friendly, honest service.
Topics of Discussion
1. Personal transformation journey of the CEO and family.
2. The transformation and evolution of the O’Brien family business.
3. The organic thought and planning of a family business.
4. The most important skills needed to create a good system within a growing business.
5. Changes in across the industry since COVID-19 and the protests.
6. How to stay connected with clients in this changing market to let them know you are here for them.
7. Important advice for those who want to start a family business.
8. Handling anxiety, if any, and maintaining stability to hold ranks for a great service while in the growth of the business.
Click below the audio to read the transcript.
How to Start a Successful Family Owned Business
Intro: Some call it, ‘insight’. Others call it, ‘vision’. At Pershing, we call it, ‘perspective’. A perspective you’ll benefit from, from a custodian you can rely on. One who can help navigate the big picture and whose products give you a competitive edge. One who considers everything, what will help you succeed today and tomorrow. Open yourself to a new perspective and open the possibilities. Consider everything. BNY Mellon Pershing. Learn more at www.pershing.com/goindependent. Pershing Advisor Solutions, LLC, Member of FINRA SIPOC.
Marcus Hart: Hey, welcome to the Transform Your Life show. The only place where you can make real life and business reformation, harnessing the power, optimism, hope, and faith. But before we get into today’s episode, let’s hear from our sponsor.
01:40 Marcus Hart: Hello, my good people, my good people out there in podcast world, cyber world, radio land. I am your host Marcus Hart. This is the Transform U Live show. Your own show, where you can make real life and business transformation, harnessing the power of optimism, hope, and faith. We got a wonderful story here for you today that I am truly honored and greatly glad to be able to talk with a wonderful group of people or individual, who is definitely making headways in a great industry. I got some branches from learning about- briefly, growing up as a teenager on the O’Brien Garage Doors, is a family-owned and operated garage door company that provides residential garage door services, including repair sales and installation services, and much, much more. Rather your overhead door, or operator needs to be repaired, or you need to buy new ones, they service, they sell all brands and models of quality garage doors and automatic garage doors openers. And they’ve been proudly serving customers for over 30 years and they are dedicated to being friendly, honest, and they do this across the nation. So, I have here with us, Jona and Mr. O’Brien. So, how are you guys doing today?
03:07 Jon O’Brien: We are doing fantastically. Thank you, Marcus.
03:10 Jona: Doing wonderful. Thank you.
1. Personal transformation journey of the CEO and family.
03:13 Marcus: Oh, that’s wonderful to hear Jon and Jona. So, they heard me share a little bit about the company. You guys have been doing this for 30 years now. Truly remarkable indeed. But tell us about the personal transformation journey from where you guys started, to where you are now.
03:38 Jon: Absolutely. We would love to share that, Marcus, with your audience and hopefully, our future potential customers that we look forward to making their day better with helping them with any garage door needs they may have. We do specialize in residential garage doors and automatic garage door openers. We also service the commercial community with the bigger doors and larger problems that come along with those. I’ve been doing this now for the majority of my life. I’d spend 32 plus years back in 1988, when I separated from the United States Air Force. I went to work for a rather large military defense contractor at the time as an engineer and I did that for three years and loved it. An amazing company, building fighter aircraft to serve and protect our country. At that time, probably my only frustration with working for a large company was that I felt I was just a tiny little cog in the wheels of that large corporate entity. And I thought, gosh, I’d sure like to take everything that I did and produce for that company and feel like I was making possibly a bigger end result than I could see. So, along that time, while I was working at this large company, I had a problem with my garage door and after several attempts with a company trying to get my problem solved and fixed, it just seemed like I couldn’t get it to work more than a few weeks. I couldn’t seem to get it fixed. So, always kind of growing up with an entrepreneurial mindset I decided that I would figure out how to get it fixed myself. And I did, and it was a lasting repair and I decided, well, if I can do this for myself, maybe I’ll see if other people may be having these problems with their doors and sharing this same frustration. So, I decided maybe I ought to see if I can take some of my knowledge and abilities and help others with it.
>> 06:38 So, we started off from the Dallas Fort Worth area, and we started off very, very small, helping one customer with their problems at a time. And we were seeing such tremendous results with what we were doing. We just decided to do a little bit more and a little bit more. And before I knew it, I was so busy that I was working in the evenings, helping people with their garage doors and on weekends, that I decided I better probably do this full time. It became very troublesome for me [indistinct – 07:16] the time so much. So, it got to a point where we just went ahead and I left this defense contractor company that I worked for at the time after three years and went full time with my garage door business. Pretty young at that time, it was 32 years ago and I was in my 20’s. So, we just started, one garage door at a time in DFW. After a couple of years, we realized that, why limit ourselves to the Dallas Fort Worth area? There are probably homeowners in other cities and even other States across this great country that needed our help too. So, we started expanding in Texas, one city at a time. We started off in Austin, Texas, after Dallas Fort Worth, and then moved to Houston, San Antonio, and got pretty solid in most areas. And then, we moved up into Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and we’ve just continued over the last 33 years. Now, we’re pretty much doing what we do best all over the country.
08:46 Marcus: What a remarkable and inspiring story. And let me just also say, thank you for your service, as well as a fellow service member who served in the army. I’m quite envious that you served in the Air Force. So, thank you for your service.
09:04 Jon: Well, we were there to support you guys. It was our job, and thank you so much for that and thank you for your service as well. It was an honor and a privilege for me to do that for this great country that we live in.
2. The transformation and evolution of the O’Brien family business
09:18 Marcus: Yes, definitely. And we definitely see, just where you came from and just that personal dedication of service, carrying over very easily into this line of work here and prideful as well. Now, many times, people say that, hey, it looks like you woke up the next morning and you just, boom. You have these different O’Briens all over the place. But I’m quite sure it was a lot of hard work; it was more thought out than that. So, when starting your family business, did it come as an organic thought, and how long did it take to actually plan it all for the long run?
10:22 Jon: Well, that’s a very, very interesting question. And I can tell you that, no, you don’t wake up one morning and the next day, you’re successful. That’s for sure.
10:31 Marcus: Yeah. I wish.
10:33 Jon: Yeah. But I can tell you that it’s a very rewarding experience. It can be painstaking, it can be stressful, but overall, it’s very rewarding because everything that you’re doing as a business owner, you can see the direct result. You can see the direct impact that you’re having on another person’s life. When someone’s garage door can’t open and they feel trapped or stuck in their garage, that is a horrible feeling. And the type of work that we do, I mean, a garage door is an extremely heavy and complicated system in your home, and it’s the largest operating system in your home that’s used every single day. And when your car is in that garage and that door is stuck and won’t open, that is a serious obligation in your day. And so, we have found that, if we get out there and we solve a customer’s problem, and we get that door open and functioning for them, we’ve helped make their day brighter. And that is a very rewarding feeling to see a positive impact directly in someone’s day or in their life. And that was one of the rewards that I enjoyed so much in the beginning and every day since, and 32 years later today, we still see that in our daily operations. And that is just one of the things that I’ve always loved about having my own business.
>> 12:26 And another thing that I’ve loved is being able to build something, where I can bring my children and family in to help as a team. It’s made our family stronger and closer together. We’re all working for a common goal. And by the way, I have a lot of children, nine kids. And every one of those kids, over the years, have participated and worked in the family company in some way or another. Whether it’s in the office taking customer calls and helping customers on the phone, or out in the field, actually doing repairs on the garage doors themselves. And as my children have grown and gotten older and become adults, the majority of them are still working in the company, in the family business. And as a matter of fact, we’ve got them now scattered all over the country, working at the local level in cities that we’re in all over the country. So, it’s been just a really, really strong business, not only for the things that we can offer customers to make their day brighter itself, it also strengthens and keep our family very, very close over the years.
3. The organic thought and planning of a family business
13:59 Marcus: Wow. Jon, you really speak with so much passion, it really touches me. And I was sitting here almost in tears here, man, just listening to the part you talk about, just seeing how your work touches customers, how they come in, very frustrated, very upset about the situation they have with the garage. But then you walk away with a job finished and then they’re happy, they’re smiling. And then, how it has kept your family unit strong and given everybody all hands on deck with something to do to push the mission forward. But not only just the mission of the business but also, the mission of the family. And that’s truly a beautiful thing, Jon. Sounds like you’ve got a really good recipe there.
14:54 Jon: Well, and that’s the thing, Marcus. It is the recipe and the business model that has helped us grow because we’ve just always remembered, and we do every single day, that every customer, even though we help hundreds and hundreds of customers every single day in so many cities across the country, we always try never to forget that each customer is an individual and that, when they’re experiencing these problems and need help, they are the only one in the world. And we try to make sure that they feel that way with each and every communication that we have from them, from the office, from our reps, on the phones, to our technicians who are out at their property, helping solve their problems and make their day better.
4. The most important skills needed to create a good system within a growing business.
15:58 Marcus: Yeah. I really like that. Speaking of good systems and creating good systems, I know you got the manpower because you got nine kids. I got six of them, so I think I need to get three more to catch up with you, and I have a good system too. A side note there. But most importantly though, what are the most important skills needed to create a good system within a growing business?
16:31 Jon: Well, I’ll tell you what, obviously skills are very, very important. And every technician that we bring on board, not as an employee, but as an extended member of the family, a team. Because that’s what I like to think of our company is, not a company but a team of caring, successful, skilled, and knowledgeable individuals. And that’s our number one priority any time we have someone join the team. And I’m very, very proud that we also not only have a positive impact on our customers every single day, we have a positive impact on the individuals who are members of our team, including their families every single day. And it just makes me so proud and happy to see the impact that this company has, as I said, not only on our customers, but also every individual who’s a member of this team. And when come on, it’s our job to make sure that all of the knowledge that we’ve acquired over all these years, that we’re getting that information and knowledge to them, so that they can all be valued and productive members of the O’Brien Garage Door team.
18:13 Jona: Yeah. I mean, I would say that definitely, some of the basic skills and tools and mindset that you would need to make a business successful is, one, you need to understand that it needs to be something that you love, it needs to be something that you have passion for and you want to give your community, not just customers but also, to the people that work with you as well. Just provide opportunity for the people that work for you and their families, and then offer the best service that you’re able to, so that your community is happy with their repairs and stuff. But also, to know that running a business is very hard work. The clock doesn’t really ever turn off; you need to be available all the time, so you need to make sure that you have a passion for it.
18:54 Marcus: I like that Jona. You speak on mindset and your mindset is so important. A lot of times it’s hard to teach that. So, when we think about transformation and evolution of a business, we see sometimes we start with a certain mindset when we first started, and then it changes. From your perspective, Jona, how have you seen your family business transformed and evolved over the years?
19:26 Jona: Well, I mean, I personally have witnessed the family business since I was about five, I want to say. And when I was a little girl, before we ever even opened up a showroom, my parents ran the business out of the house. When I was a little girl, before I even started kindergarten, I watched my parents busy all the time, answering calls, getting the company started. We used to meet the technicians for restock here at our house and everything back in the 80’s. So, then it kind of transformed into, we got a retail location, we started servicing customers in there, to sell them parts and then, taking calls out of there. But even then, as a little girl, we would spend hours and hours a day up there while my parents would work, and we would entertain ourselves with the little nuts and bolts on the floor. So, lots and lots of memories. And then, getting up into high school and starting to answer phones for the business and then, going to college and continuing that. And then getting even older and playing different roles with helping it grow. So, I mean, it has grown from something very small to- I’ve just seen it completely change over the years, and I have been happy to be a part of it, along with a lot of my siblings.
5. Changes in across the industry since COVID-19 and the protests
20:44 Marcus: Yeah. That’s really beautiful, and it really shows that keeping you guys around, you even mentioned is something as little as just having the bolts on the floor and be able to play with them, just that exposure alone has fused you guys to every aspect of the business, to be able to like run it inside and out your hands, and be able to grow this thing to the well-oiled machine it is. That’s wonderful. Man, you guys got me inspired over here. So, looking at the industry now, and either one of you guys can answer this. We know COVID-19 has arrived and then we got so much unrest across the country. There’s a lot of people that’s upset about a lot of things. What has changed most recently in the industry, if not at all, has it affected you guys? And if so, have you guys had change?
21:54 Jona: Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely an interesting energy in the atmosphere right now, and it definitely does affect a lot of businesses as well as a lot of individuals. I would say for us, we definitely experienced a drop off in business back in March when everything kind of started hitting, when everybody didn’t really know exactly what we should do, if we should all stay home, if we should have service people at our house, and kind of what to do. So, we definitely drop off with that. Our reaction right away was just to make sure that our community knows that we’re being safe. We’re making sure that our guys are wearing mask and making sure they were social distancing, because the health and safety of our customers and our technicians as well is very important. And so, that seems to have done pretty well so far; we haven’t run into any instances really, anywhere in the company. So, that’s been pretty good. But yeah, just kind of trying to work to help provide calm to everybody out there. So, obviously, we have Facebook and our Google listings and stuff, and just making sure that we let our customers know that we’re taking the required precautions and that their health and safety as well as our technicians’ is very important. But other than that, I would say everybody, throughout the country, throughout the world, just kind of trying to keep their heads above water, and I think we’re all doing a pretty good job.
6. How to stay connected with clients in this changing market to let them know you are here for them
23:23 Marcus: Yeah. I that’s for sure. You definitely had answered so many questions on that. A lot of customers and audience members out there, who may not be customers or may never got a garage fixed, but probably thinking about it right now like, “hey, I better get that garage service”. As far as like staying connected with clients, you kind of answered that. You said you guys are doing that through social media, outlets now because the market definitely is changing. And so, is there anything outside of social media you’re doing to just remind them that you guys are there, such as direct mailings or anything like that?
24:14 Jon: Well, let me just chime in on this. Coming from the era that I grew up in, obviously, I’m one of those that probably is a little bit challenged, I would say, in the areas of social media and everything with that going on that has come so far, just in recent years. So, one of the things that I’m very happy about having younger kids involved in the business to a high degree, because they’re just much more, obviously, better with social media and all of the technological changes that we’ve done. Back in the day, everything we did, as far as reaching out to our customers and making ourselves available to them, had been through print advertising and yellow page advertising and all of that. And now, it’s a completely different world and I’m working really hard to adapt to that, but I think we’re doing a really great job of it through all of the social media outlets and so forth. And people really are now really going to more than the old ways we started off doing. And Jona, who’s my second oldest daughter, by the way, she has really helped significantly in these areas. And one of the things I just wanted to mention was that, it’s very, very important to us that anytime a customer has a concern, a problem, anything at all, or even just good things to say about our company, which I’m proud to say we get a lot of that, we reach out to those customers and we make sure that it’s a family member, a direct family member that always keep reaching out and keeping in touch with every one of our customers. Everyone.
7. Important advice for those who want to start a family business
26:27 Jona: Yeah, definitely. I know it’s going a little bit off from the original question, but I do think one of the most important things about making sure that customers are satisfied and stuff is that we follow up each and every one of them after a service, just to of hear their feedback. And the majority of the time, people are very happy. But whenever there’s a that a concern arises, we make sure to [indistinct – 26:50] and resolve it and work with them. We take that feedback in order to grow as a company and move forward, because we’re aiming every day to be the best that we can be. And so, giving advice for anyone that wants to start a business, the customer, you always want to hear their experience. Also, you speak with the people that work with you, your technicians, everything like that, and ask them the same thing. Just constant communication, so that you can fix any problems anytime there is one and learn and grow every day.
27:22 Marcus: That’s definitely great advice. You really nailed it on the head right there. That’s one of the lessons I believe I have learned it when I had a failed attempt at a family business, when I first started my first business. And so, I wish I would have heard you guys back in 2010. So, about 10 years too late.
27:47 Jon: It’s never too late, Marcus.
27:49 Marcus: Yeah. Yeah, I got six kids of my own now, so I can try it again.
27:52 Jon: Congratulations.
27:54 Marcus: So, other than the communication that you guys are just excellent at, is there any other advice out there? A lot of people are just curious about starting their family business. Is there any other advice that you would give for them, especially if they want to do it right now in these times?
28:20 Jon: Well, the main advice that I would offer is, my experiences and what I have learned is that, number one, it is never easier than a 9 – 5 job. As a matter of fact, it’s different in a way that you are going to live and breathe this business. And at 5 o’clock, [indistinct – 28:46] and before 9 in the morning. And as I said before, it can be very, very rewarding because everything that you do, every move that you make, you can see the results, negative or positive. And obviously, the goal is to have more and more in the majority of the results you see positive. And so, you just have to remember that you’ve got to, number one, really enjoy what you’re doing, whatever it is. You’ve got to love it, because you’ve got to have a passion that carries you every day through it. It’s nice to do as a family, because then you are sharing this time and these experiences with your family. You’re not being taken away from your family; you’re actually doing it as a family. So, that was always wonderful and important for me. But the other thing is, make sure that you’re always putting your customers first. They are the reason that you’re in business and you can’t, as you grow, ever forget that. That each and every one of your customers, singularly, is why you’re there and that’s important. And then the other thing is, knowledge; make sure that you are constantly, constantly trying to improve your knowledge and skill and staying abreast of changes all the time that relate to your business, so that you are the best. And that’s why we’ve never moved into anything other than garage doors. We specialize in that because we want to be a master of one trade, not a Jack of all trades. So, that’s what we do. We know garage doors, and we’re good at it. And that’s what we’re gonna stay with and do forever, continuing to improve our knowledge and skill with garage doors. That’s it.
30:57 Jona: [indistinct – 30:55]. We may not have seen this effect so much in our business, but I know that as technology changes, as the world changes, your industry, if you can’t make the necessary changes, you might go out of business. For example, old DHS stores and then, DVDs come out and then now, it’s all going to the internet, pretty much. So, as your industry changes, if you want your business to survive, you’ve got to be able to morph.
8. Handling anxiety, if any, and maintaining stability to hold ranks for a great service while in the growth of the business
31:28 Marcus: Yeah, Yeah, definitely. Yeah. That’s a good note there, Jona. And Jon, excellent advice there. Those two combined makes for a real powerhouse. If we take what you just said and we threw it into a river, we had turned the river gold there. So, I just love it. So, we got time for about three more questions here before I let you guys go. I really appreciate you guys’ patience here with us here today and you’ve been wonderful guests here. So, just curious, in such a rapid growth you guys had, and on the verge of being a friendly neighborhood business nationwide, and maybe in all 50 States one day, what is the best way to handle any bit of anxiety, if any, to maintain stability and hold ranks for a great service providing business?
32:32 Jon: Well, and I’m going to probably let Jona handle that one, but I just wanted to say that it actually doesn’t feel our growth has been that fast. It’s been 32 years and it seems like it’s been- I guess what I want to say is that it’s important to not grow any faster, so you can maintain the quality and the standards of the product and services that you’re offering. That’s always been a very important thing on my mind. Not to grow any faster than we can keep up with, and still give the same net result that helped us grow in the first place. So, I wanted to say that, and I think I’d let Jona to touch on that question as well, because every single day she is talking with customers and communicating with our customers to make sure that we are maintaining and achieving those standards that are so important to us and important to our growth.
33:36 Jona: [indistinct] Most important thing is that you make sure, as you’re growing, you are doing it [indistinct –33:44]. When we started opening in several of the cities, there was a time where it was kind of, okay, we need to pull back a little bit because we needed to make sure that we’re offering quality. So, the most important thing to me is just that, you have a structure, you have people that help other people and help other people, kind of like a peer structure. So, you’ll have somebody that kind of oversees everything and break down the duties, and then kind of just branching off but everybody plays their own role. Everybody gets taken care of; customers, people that work for you, everything. So, basically, just having that structure, where every ‘I’ is dotted and ‘T’ is crossed, and you’re not missing anything. But it really just stems from everybody working together. You can’t just have multiple [indistinct – 34:30] handle everything. Customers can be responded to, any kind of issues can get resolved, so everybody’s got their own role in the company, in order to all feed in together and be whole.
34:15 Marcus: Wow, that’s truly remarkable. Jon, you got a good raised kid. Wow. You did a fantastic job with your kids as well, Jon, so it really reflects here. You guys have been so terrific here, I really appreciate it. I wish I could just keep guys on forever here and keep picking you guys’ brain. So, with that being said, what are some final words of wisdom that you guys would like to provide to the audience? It could be brief, or it can be as long as you like.
35:27 Jon: [indistinct] anyone who’s trying to get in business for themselves, they need to really think about what it is they’re trying to achieve first. All of the hard work and time put into a business, you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting the result. And I don’t just mean income, because the truth is, that shouldn’t really ever be the priority, because the most rewarding thing about being in business is being able to help others. And if you can earn some money doing that, I think that should be the approach and the priority is, achieving a result that is satisfying to you. And then, if you can earn a living doing it, well, we all gotta earn a living, but if you could earn a living and get the level of satisfaction from what you do, you’ve got to get the priorities right, and I think that to me, that was always my priority and still is today.
36:58 Marcus: I love it. How about you, Jona? Anything you want to add in there?
37:05 Jona: I think he summed it up. I mean, I would do say [indistinct – 37:09] dedicated to it, but to make sure it truly is whatever you want, and that you know what the rewards are going to be, which is- I’ve watched my dad over the years and seen what has motivated him and it’s two things. One, it’s taking care of his community, garage door repairs. And two, it’s taking care of his community, providing jobs and supporting their families and there’s just so much to it. But I always kinda sit there and all, and just watch him do his thing in that way and I admire that for sure.
37:43 Marcus: Nice. I love it.
37:47 Jon: Thank you, sweetheart, for that.
37:49 Marcus: Oh, wow. Such a wonderful moment here. I know the audience is just dying to know how they can get in touch with you guys, get information about the business and all that great stuff, social media. So, do us the honor by so share, if you got any events coming up, promotions or you just want to just share the social media and website.
38:11 Jona: I mean, I would say our Facebook page, we will share a lot of news and updates and kind of just a lot of personal things with business there, just give that personal touch to it, moving our store location and some garage doors that our technicians installed. Things like that and just kind of personal readouts. And then also, we have our Google listings in each city. So, you’ll able to see specials and products there, and it can connect you to our website. And then our website, www.Obriendoor.com. So, yeah, we’ve got several different areas and if they can get into [indistinct – 38:46], let me know if they ever need to email, ever need to call, we’ve always had someone ready to answer.
38:54 Marcus: Thank you so much, Jona. Thank you so much, John. And let me be the first to say that, as an ambassador for Milwaukee, I’m going to be leading the way here, making sure that everyone gets their garage door fixed by O’Brien.
39:09 Jona: Oh, you’re cool.
39:11 Jon: Thank you so much, Marcus. It’s been a privilege and an honor to be on your podcast, and I appreciate all of the questions. And we will continue to do our best to make everyone’s garage door open one at a time.
39:38 Marcus: Love it. Fantastic. Feel free to stop by again. You guys do hold the line just briefly here and I’m going to close up for us. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if you had to be listening with your parents or grandparents, I ask that you do share this wonderful podcast episode with someone. We just talked with the O’Brien Garage Door family; the family operated a garage door company that provides residential garage door services. You want to check them out? In Orlando, they have over 30 years of experience and they are dedicated to friendly honest service. Check them out. Don’t delay on sharing this with someone. Sharing the links. I have the links in the episode description, you can find it to your left or to your right, or right directly to the bottom on the full episode recording playback. And share with an enemy too, yay. I don’t know why you got an enemy, but if you got one, share it with them, they’ll be like, “hey, why are you sending me this?” And when they play it back, they’d be like, “Oh, I love it” and then you guys become friends. What do you know? So, until next time, I’m your host, Marcus Hart. This is the Transform Your Live show. Many blessings, peace and lots of love.
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