Father’s Day Advice for Busy Integrators
The most important thing to remember about family is that it always comes first. Hear what else industry Dads have to say about fatherhood.
Running a security integration business… or any small business… is a 24/7/365 job. Clients call during dinner. Technicians need advice. POs need to be written at night and on weekends. You get the picture.
So often, time spent running the business is time away from your family, missing those special moments in time that can be lost forever. So with Father’s Day upon us, SSI sister publication CE Pro reached out to several CE Pro 100 integrators (the top highest-revenue residential integration firms) to get their best advice on how to stay balanced in life between work and business. (No offense is meant to all the hard-working female integrators out there, but CE Pro’s readership is 96 percent male.)
Among some of the more common pieces of advice:
- Go camping where there is no Wi-Fi or cell coverage
- Use the business to teach your kids the value of hard work
- Take advantage of your access to the latest “gadgets” for your kids
- Try to be home for dinner every night
- Don’t force your kids to get involved in security integration
- Coach your kids’ sports teams
- Make your kids’ lunches (or brownies)
- Empower your team so you can take time to be with your family
- Use an online journal service to log special moments you have with your kids
- Name your daughter Alexa!
Here’s what the pros have to say in honor of Father’s Day…
Brendan Armstrong, Sr., Trinity Wiring and Security Solutions, Manassas, Va.
“I have always coached my four sons with their sports’ teams and this as well kept me ‘in their world’! Having common interests is also really important… music (concerts), sporting events, running/hoops and golf have allowed us to take trips everywhere to play and enjoy the time together. (I will be playing Old Head Golf Course in Ireland on Father’s Day…very blessed and lucky!) All four boys also decided to work for the company – the youngest just completed freshman year at Villanova and is working here for the summer.
“My Bottom Line approach is as follows: God, Family & Trinity! And in that order you never get in trouble!”
Dee Straub, Structured Cable of VA, Richmond, Va.
“When I started this company, my son was 3 and my daughter was still a dream. She was born the following year and as hard as I tried, I missed some of those moments with the kids that you cannot get back. It was hard coming in late at night and my wife telling me what they had done for the first time. I had to justify the sacrifices early on to assure that I could provide for them in the future. Once I got the business up and running I was there for all of their events.
— Dee Straub, Structured Cable of VA
“Try to be home for dinner every night, even if you need to go back later. That is quality time and an experience that they will remember. I made sure I was home for dinner every night. Many nights I would go back to work or work from home until late at night. Some of our fondest memories were made at the table when we were all there cutting up.
“I had my son pulling wire, in the summer, when he was 14. He came back two more years and then decided that he wanted to find a job on his own with coworkers closer to his age. Hopefully he’ll return after he finishes college. My daughter hasn’t ever shown any interest but she’s only 17, so we’ll see.”
Craig Curran, SST, Irvine, Calif.
“I have two kids, ages 19 and 21. I started SST in 1999 so they were very young. Balance was very difficult. I was fortunate to have a wife that didn’t need to work, until the 2008 economic correction. It is easy to say what your priorities are, but something very different to execute them. My family has always come first and I have put in way too many hours through the years. I will say though, that I am very surprised to hear the amount of hours my competitors’ log.
— Craig Curran, SST
“I always told my kids that their job was school and any sport they wanted to play. For that they got privileges. I made it a point to always be home for dinner. That was an important event. I also made sure my schedule allowed me to either coach or attend all of their sports. Games were always the same, I made sure to schedule around that. When possible, which is more often than you may think, I made them breakfast and their lunches for school. I went as far as to bake brownies every Sunday for the next week’s lunches. Rumor has it I am famous with my kids’ friends for my brownies. Small commitments to them knowing you are there and care is more valuable than the amount of time.
“I am very fortunate to have an employee base that is empowered to do their jobs and make decisions. If you look up our mission statement, which I wrote in 1997 during the creation of our business plan, I only care about two things. ‘The satisfaction of my employees and customers.’ As SST matured, I have great support from my employees to run the business without me. I also am very lucky to have two great supportive partners.
“Not one single time have I discussed my kids getting involved in the business. I grew up in a family business and run one now with my brother. It is no easy task, let alone being the owners kid. I helped my dad and uncles grow Tri-Ed Distribution, and I can tell you that the benefits aren’t all they may seem to be. I am sure I carry a fair amount of scars from that time period. If they come to me, I will gladly have the conversation.
Travis Leo, Residential Systems Inc., Lakewood, Colo.
“Of all the challenges I have in my life, this is the biggest one I face every day. I have two young sons (7 and 5) who are involved in every activity possible. Fortunately, I like to think I have my priorities straight: family first! I am able to coach their sports teams, go to all of their family events and be there for them for bedtime 99 percent of the time. That doesn’t mean I don’t go back to work after they go to bed but they are only going to be young once. It’s important to remember that you are the boss and that is supposed to give you some freedom and flexibility that others don’t have. Make sure you take advantage of that. Life is short.
— Travis Leo, Residential Systems
“Don’t be afraid to do [stay balanced]. It seems like dads are too quick to think that their job is to provide for their family and that, by doing so, they have to work 80+ hours each week. The best thing you can do as a parent and a business owner is find the balance in life. Make time to do it and commit to that time. Don’t treat it as a ‘nice to have.’ Make it a priority and good things will happen. In many instances, the more we devote to our families, the better our business does. Life is filled with karma!
“My kids are a little too young to get involved in the business but I do like to bring them around the office every now and then to see what we do. Plus, what little kid doesn’t like watching a Disney movie on the office theater screen!”
Jason Fischbeck, Automated Environments, Mesa, Ariz.
“There is no greater calling in life than that of being a father and I have been blessed to have six children. I don’t think I am especially great as a father but I had an amazing father that taught me a how to work and the values I should live by.
“As a young father I was fortunate that I was building my business while the kids were babies. I spent plenty of days working to then go to the office to do paperwork until midnight. This phase I leaned on my wife during the week to meet the needs of the children. I would spend weekends doing fatherly things.
“Once the kids were old enough to have school programs/concerts I made a decision that those events would trump any client service call, meeting or paperwork. It was important that my kids knew that they were more important to me than anything else. Work can always be down but my kids events were never an option to miss.
— Jason Fischbeck, Automated Environments
“As a business grows I found that it was very important to trust and empower the people around me that afforded the opportunity to travel with family without micromanaging from a distance. When you are on a family vacation there is nothing more annoying than having Dad on the phone all day with issues. It hasn’t always been convenient but I made it a priority to coach all of my kids in various sports and it was a sacrifice but well worth the reward. Older kids have a lot of activities and if it is something that motivates them and they love then I will support them and make it a priority in my life.
“The phrase ‘No success in the workplace compensates for failure in the home’ is something that I have tried to live my life by. Not easy but something worth shooting for.
“The best advice I would pass on is to make sure your coworkers and clients know that your family will always be first for you. It is easier to set that expectation early and often so you practice what you preach. I also tell the people that are part of our company that I expect that their families will always take priority over anything at work.
“I always make it a point to talk to them about life. Find out who their friends are and make your home is one that friends feel welcome. I always wanted my kids and friends to hang out at our home so we knew what was going on. It has worked because all of my kids
“I told my boys before they would come to work for the summers that I expected them to toe the line like any new employee would. There would be no tolerance around the dinner table for complaints. My fondest memories are when I could go out on the rough-in or trim-out crew and work along side my boys and the other employees. It was a team-building experience for all involved.”
“Fathers are so important in raising the next generations, and I think we have a great opportunity to rise to the challenge of being a father.”
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