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Episode 48: Family Succession in Industrial Distribution

In this episode of "The Family Business Show," host Michael Palumbos interviews Jennifer Murphy and Dan Judge from Net Plus Alliance, a fifth-generation family business. Jennifer shares her journey, which was not straightforward; she became the president of Net Plus Alliance despite initially having no intentions of joining the distribution business. Her experience in marketing and various roles helped her transition and grow within her family's company.

Dan's story contrasts with Jennifer's, rooted deeply in the family's history dating back to 1885 when the business started as a machine shop on the Erie Canal. Over the years, the business evolved, and Dan's involvement grew from his early years through significant transitions, including the sale of their original business and the foundation of Net Plus Alliance.

Jennifer's participation in a leadership program at the University of Buffalo played a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of Net Plus Alliance, emphasizing the importance of a supportive learning environment and mentorship in family businesses.

The episode also highlights the importance of trust within family businesses, the challenges and strategies around hiring and retaining employees, especially during the pandemic, and the significance of understanding and evolving company culture.

Listeners are encouraged to reach out if they're interested in learning more about the CEO program in Buffalo or the Net Plus Alliance, emphasizing the openness and collaborative spirit that both Jennifer and Dan bring to their work and the family business community.

Episode 48 Transcript


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Michael Palumbos: Welcome everybody to the family business show I am your host Michael Columbus with family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Today we have an incredible show for you, we have Jennifer Murphy and dn judge from net plus alliance with us here today a fifth generation family business that we have tons to learn from so welcome to both of you.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Thank you, thanks thanks for having us today.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And as we always do we just like each of you to introduce yourselves tell us you know what was your journey into the family business was it a twisty winding road or was it something that you woke up and said I can't wait to do this so Jennifer if you don't mind starting us off.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Well uh I guess mine was a little twist here.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: and yours was but.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: On the current President of net plus aligns very proud to be the fifth generation of this family business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I didn't really come right into distribution, and I think if you had asked me when I was in college or younger if I was going to be working in the distribution business, I would have given a very enthusiastic know.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: um I graduated from St bonaventure University, which is here locally just outside of the buffalo area and majored in marketing.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I took a little break after college and lived out in California for a while and then moved back to the area briefly before I took a job in Boston at a company called ef education.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They were a company that did cultural exchange and language education for teachers and students and I oversaw I started in the marketing department and then I eventually.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Through my career there, I became the director of incentives, so I oversaw their loyalty Program.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: which was a you know, a million dollar loyalty program that we use to facilitate relationships and create engagement across all the educators that were in.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: That were our customers, so I moved back to the area when my daughter shortly after my daughter was born.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My husband and I are both from the area he's from quite a large family and there's only my sister and I so from a much smaller family but we both wanted to be back in lockport.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: To be closer to our families and raise our kids and in 2006 my dad said to me, you know you have a little time on your hands, maybe you'd like to come and help my business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: That I started a few years ago, we could use a little bit of marketing help, so you could work part time or you can work from home I go I often say to people in our industry as sort of the way that he tricked me into getting into the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So that was in 2006 I was the director of marketing and just managed a lot of the aspects of the marketing programs implemented email marketing.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: transitioned the little kind of newsletter publication that they made into a full color newsletter with advertising.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And then also really just started to take on more responsibilities as the business grew my dad.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: started handing me more things to do from the operations side, so I transition from being the director of marketing to being the VP of marketing and the CEO and then in 2013 and became the president of the business which I still am today.

 

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Michael Palumbos: graduation that's that is a.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: twisty windy road yeah.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: California to Boston and back to La for.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Her and you know, one of the things a lot of family businesses have that rule.

 

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Michael Palumbos: that not everybody does that you need to go and prove yourself outside of the business first that's one of the nice things from you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Your dad's perspective is he could look back and watch your career and say yeah she'd be good here, I can teach you the other stuff you know, knowing that you know she's there.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Is glamorous though with all the traveling in the cheese.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So, Dan tell us your story, how did you end up in the family business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Well, mine is a little a little more direct Just to give you a little bit history of our corporation, the company started in 1885 on the banks of the erie canal it's a machine shop.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I would have been a distant cousin William nolan random machine shop, and of course the canal had just really come into being, and there were a lot of.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Industry and manufacturing built up along the canal kits and black portraits a 60 foot drop of so there was a lot of water power, a lot of mills were created.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: In 1919.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We nolan died, and he left the business to my three great uncle's or picture, right here behind me they incorporated the businesses word brothers no supply company.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And and became more of a medical supply House than a machine shop so Mel supply house sells tools and the braces and nuts and bolts types of materials, all of the industry that was growing up along the canal they incorporated the business 1931.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My father joined the business in.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: would have been the MID.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: 40s.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: and

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So as a as a young boy I was down there packing orders and putting stuff away and worked a couple of summers driving trucks.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And when I got ready to go to college.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: He came home with a brochure from clarkson that had a program and industrial distribution.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: which was our business so went from being known as mill supplies to industrial distribution, so I went to clarkson took their industry distribution program got my degree and spent two years in the army, so my my time away from.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: All of this was going in the army spending here in Vietnam.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: came back went to the University of buffalo and got an MBA because I figured I needed to kind of re educate myself but worked at the family business, while I was doing that and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My cousin same word, who was the son of one of these my great uncle's he was running the company at the time, he was the majority stockholder he said well you're coming to work here.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And so I never looked for another job and I started here and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Now, with the just grow with the company We grew as a General Motors plant here Harrison radiator grew they became the sole air conditioning manufacturer for GM cars and trucks, so our business grew along with them, but as as the.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: As business in western New York started to leave because of the rust belt and all of that in 1990 same decided to sell the business, so we sold the assets of the business I work for the company that bought us for a couple years and I could tell that wasn't going to work and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: decided to start net plus alliance in 2002.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: from scratch, no.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: No suppliers, no distributors wait a business plan a couple of friends who helped me and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: It was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: we're off and running.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it, thank you, thank you both that's again two different pathways in, and I have heard both you know, and that is so that that rule is just a.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Budget, you know, a rule of thumb I would say is terms of having you know go spend three to five years proving yourself and then, if you really want to do this, you can come back it's kind of what we hear.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Again and again I Dan like you know what you said was I was, I was in the shop, I was packaging orders and doing things and so from a really young age, you got to be around the business and see you know what what it was like to be there.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I have another family business I love the story he used to his grandfather was a geneticist and from cornell and he would.

 

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Michael Palumbos: splice different you know varieties and grow them in the greenhouse to see what you know where they would go and collect the seeds.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And he would follow his grandfather doing all that work and just knew that you know, there was nothing else he wanted to do, besides grow cabbage and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: something you know yeah but you only get that I think those things happen when you're involved in when you're doing the kinds of things where it was fun and enjoyable you know i'm in this business I did.

 

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Michael Palumbos: a bunch of years ago, and when I was in high school dad would pay me an exorbitant hourly rate which at the time was great for me.

 

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Michael Palumbos: To do build out prospecting cards for him back in the day, you know you everything you would dial for and to meet people and he'd say go through the phone book give me all the plumbers, give me all of the whatever.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And it was neat I didn't love it, but at the same time I got a feel for it, so when he said, you know you haven't asked me about coming into the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: um you want might want to take a peek at this because you'd be really good at it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And so we started talking and that's how I you know ended up there, but I went back if I had, I had a bad experience right, you know as you're doing those things never would have you know, probably considered it so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah it was pretty interesting you know because I sort of worked in all aspects of the business, while I was in college and and and before you know when I was just you know driving truck meeting customers.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know, learning how all that relationship building, but it was my two years in the army as a second lieutenant that really gave me the leadership training that has you know what's helped me throughout throughout my whole career.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Great, and I say I worked in the file room when I was a kid I would walk there after school.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And I did not get paid an exorbitant amount of money, I got paid a very small amount of money enough to be able to buy candy usually between school.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And going toward brothers, which was really close to reveal some McCarthy, which is close to my school where I went.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But the numbers on the purchase orders for about this long and the tissue and the purchase orders were made of tissue paper because they were the carbon copies, so you have to file these by number.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: By these like nine digit numbers with these little tissue paper piece of paper so maybe if I had been sorting widgets in the warehouse.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I would have never said that I wasn't going to work in the business, but the best thing about the warehouse was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: First of all, it was cool to be in the warehouse with all the tools and all supplies there's also an old fashioned pop bottle machine break get pop out for a quarter.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So that was the big incentive of working in the office and everyone was super Nice, and so my dad's career in the industry.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Over the years we as kids got to benefit from that as well, because my dad served in, as the President of the associations that are within the industrial supply community and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We got to go to shows, and we got to go to things we got to travel to places when my dad would go to either speak at those things or do the to participate in those shows.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And a lot of the people that are still in our industry today are people that I knew from when I was kid, so I think one of the things about this industry is it's it is kind of like one big family.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: A family businesses, but people have really grown up together so everyone is still really closely connected throughout the industry, even though it's a real big industry, it feels very small.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know I think the whole relationship building through my career is what got us here.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: going up through the chairs of our trade association, so I got to know a different level of manufacturer and distributor I was dealing with the owners with the President, so the companies and then.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: After we sold the distributor ship I ran a buying group for industrial distributors, so there were there was 40 distributors that had formed a purchasing co op.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And I was actually one of the founding companies, but then, when they needed to they needed a president in 93 I went to run that group and I ran that till 2000 Okay, and then, when when I decided to start net plus alliance.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We put a press release out and I got calls from distributor from manufacturers the next day.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: That I knew that said if you're going to start this group we're in it, so it was that relationship building over those prior 20 years that really got us to.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: To be able to grow, the business quickly at the beginning, great.

 

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Michael Palumbos: One of the words that people are talking about still today as we went through this whole coven thing we're still not through it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But we haven't been able to pivot and being able to be nimble and you know as we talk to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know clients and and people on the show we're always talking about when's the last time you did your SWOT analysis, so you know, this is not something that you do.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Once every three years, this is something you probably should be doing every quarter, right now, as we, as we you know are going through these difficult times, but you're.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What what started as a machine shop is not a machine shop today, and you have pivoted more than once, would you, you know one.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Talk about if you can you know go back in time for a little bit and see.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You do know you know one what were the pivots and to do you know why they pivoted to is there were stories passed on in terms of you know what was the what was the cause or effect of of those pivots as they were doing it.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah well, I think the the move from being a machine shop to a mill supply business was was pretty simple I think when they were making tools and making the other things they were making the machine shop and my my great uncle's went in to help their cousin.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They just started buying inventory and having things that were already made nuts and bolts and tools and grinding wheels and selling them, and I think eventually the machine shop business because I don't think any of the three of them were machinists.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: When that sort of started that business diminished because they started adding more inventory, you know, and that was a very successful business up until really till the 1990 when we sold it but.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We had trouble maintaining our sales via is a Bethlehem steel would close or republic's deal with close we made two acquisitions.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: to grow, but all we were doing was replacing the sales that we lost because of the customers that left and the reason we were able to buy those two distributor ships was because they lost the same customers and people that are ready to get out of the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: The pivot to.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Once we sold the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: The pivot was, I wanted to stay in the business i've got all these relationships, is there a different way to do it, I didn't want was you're going to start another Nelson playhouse so that's when I get into running ID one which was that first buying group that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Did I did I managed and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: In those 40 distributors were all really close friends and then.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: The manufacturers became close friends in 2000 the buying group was dissolved and the Members are afforded to join a much larger group in there, I was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: In 2000 without the job.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And I needed a job at that point.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Here, so I.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I kept a couple of the people on who who helped me run ID one and we dabbled in a couple of things for yourself, because I had a non compete with the group that acquired, our group and then.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: sitting around with three friends who were all retired and sort of in the business so let's think about what we could do when.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Somebody said well let's start buying so we we just kept writing out all these ideas and how are we going to do it and what kind of distributors, do we want to attract.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: What industries do we want to be in how much are we going to charge are we going to have restricted territories like all of the other groups have restricted territories, we said no we're not and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: figured out a name came up with net plus alliance and, as I said, we sent we had a business plan and a press release and no, no, suppliers and no distributors, today we have over 400 distributors and honored and 60.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Product suppliers right, but you know we wouldn't we wouldn't be here today, if it wasn't for Jennifer joining the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah and, as you can tell i'm probably.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: If I started in the business in 1969 i've been around for.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: With Jennifer coming in and and really you know starting our marketing program which was at that point was a black and white four page newsletter and she says, you know, did you can sell those ads.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We were just putting this thing together somebody send us stuff.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: right there next vitamin C heads well they did, and then, then we made a color and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Now the rest, I mean she's just done a phenomenal job and build a great team.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Great so then Jennifer Would you mind you know for those people that don't know what a buying group is, and you know what net appliance does.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Why don't you talk about you know net plus alliance, a little bit tell us what you do, who you serve and talk about the things that you know you made.

 

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Michael Palumbos: The newsletters one of those things that you brought to the company through the years since you've been involved, what are some of the other things initiatives or.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I call them rocks you know what are the rocks that we tackled to to build you know, to build the business to where it is today, and how did you make the decisions to go down those roads.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Sure sure i'm all good questions so buying group essentially is a group of distributors and manufacturers that make a commitment to buy from each other, we have 400 industrial and construction supplies, distributors and about 180 manufacturer wholesale and business services partners.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Our distributors sell a lot of what my uncle's had sold, many of them are also like family businesses family owned businesses.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They sell industrial supplies contractor supplies safety fasteners anything you'd see on a job site or in a manufacturing facility to keep the wheels turning keep the buildings going up.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And our Members are located throughout the US, we do have a couple of Members in Canada, but our footprint primarily is in the United States and those we have about 400 distributor companies which translates roughly to about 2700 locations throughout the US wow.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So I mean in terms of the other big rocks which we used to call them those here as well.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: i'd say, one of the most pivotal changes in the business for me was I participated in a program at through the University of buffalo school of management, called the Center for entrepreneurial leadership.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I went into the program in 2011 and graduated in 2012 so the time I wasn't yet the President, but I had been at the company for about five or six years so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My dad had already started to transition, a lot of operational things to me, but still didn't really you know own some of the bigger kind of decisions or things within the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: going to this class, I would say, for anyone who's in a family business or is an entrepreneur.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They really put you to the test to be sure that you understand all of the aspects of running a business, so they take you through quickly to class work each week.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But you're also in a cohort with other business owners so you're hearing from them all the things that they are doing or not doing.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And each week you know we'd have one week we had a company that came in and talked all about succession planning and valuation you know another week we had someone We actually had a three week course all on the financial aspects of running a business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: with people who came in, to talk about doing a deeper dive into who are your attorneys in your business and your accountants in your business where all the ancillary people that help support your business so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Each week on Fridays I would sit with my dad he'd come to my office and I would have a yellow pad of questions that I went through with him and asked him and I think that's when I became much more.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: focused on creating a strategic plan for the business it follows the gazelle method which is you know you do have you have rocks and you have.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know quarterly goals and measuring the things in the business that are really driving your success so from there is when I really set the stage of saying this is the kind of company we're going to be this is how we're going to go forward we looked at.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: hiring some key people the partners that my dad had started with in the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Their contract terms were coming to an end, so you know they retired and that gave me the room to be able to start hiring people with more experience in our industry.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: that's pretty much I think was sort of the change the.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: pivot when we decided to really start to make big changes within the business so like, why do you have this account that you've had for 40 years, who was just by himself and not keeping up real well and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And who's your attorney well it's the guy that did our real estate, you know wasn't really business attorney and then you know she she found some really good assets, when she was in the CEO program that you'll be and so when.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know, when I started to think about is she ready to run the business, I talked to one of our mentors in that class we met for breakfast.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: He said she's ready.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know what you did is brilliant and whether you know what prompted getting becoming a part of that organization for you.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: That pro rather local business owner did the same pitch that I just did, and I still do that pitch i'm i'm going I just got I just accepted.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: The offer to be a mentor to a business that's in the CEO program that's based out of lockport so i've never done it before I say no to it every year and I just said yes to it this year so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: i'm caring for that meeting i'm like are you sure it, you know i'm are you sure i'm the person they're like we're sure you're the person so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I still am involved in the program i'm in the mastery group there, although I think i'm kind of segue out of that particular group.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: i'm really close with the people who, I was in the group with 10 years ago and i'm still close with the people, the business owners, that I was in my mastery group but they're all coming here to my office in a couple of weeks.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Just to get together and commiserate so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I think that that's one of the key things when you are a family business owner or any business owner entrepreneur.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: it's to really put other businesses around you or have a cohort of some type where you can really kind of collaborate on things with so I was lucky, because my dad was still really involved in the business itself.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know, I do have a background in distribution and he does one of the first hires that we made that I made was bringing somebody in who had as big of a book of distribution experiences my dad didn't that was Todd washburn who came in, to be our VP of supplier development.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: can actually wear two hats at the time, because we were small then smaller than.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But he still today is like our go to resource for every product he can kick name and talk about any product and on the mro or the construction side.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So it's like once we realized what we wanted to do we just really started to get after it a big.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: A big component of the CEO program is you create like a clinic so you define like three key objectives that you want to tackle within your business and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: At the time we really needed to understand and define like who are profile customers, where we needed to know who kind of the profile and ideal distributor was and who the ideal supplier was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And like we still make refinements to that and actually we're going through that experience again with our team in this planning that we're doing talking more about.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We stick really to that profile will we bring in a new prospect, but what does the ideal distributor look like an act like once they get into the into the group and really the the.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know the passion and the purpose our core purpose of what we do is to ensure the success of our Member companies so many of them are small businesses, like we are, unlike the people you serve.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And my intent is to continue to provide more values to them to help them be better business owners, so we have a monthly business webinar series, where we have different experts that come in and talk about.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: hiring and recruiting and building company culture, and you know all kinds of marketing and all kinds of topics.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Our suppliers also host monthly product webinars and then we recently.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Within the last few years we created what we call the necklace academy and a core component of that is our online learning management platform which is blue gold So those are.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I think we have over 750 courses in the online LM s that all of our Members have access to for free, so they can take courses from milwaukee tool and Stanley black and Decker and radians and all of our supplier partners that participate on the platform.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Those employees can get into that platform and learn about the products that they sell.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Dan when Jennifer started to go down the road of the CEO program did you have any concerns or you know anything that held you back and what you know if it did what changed it if it didn't what were you know what excited you about what was happening.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I will, I was excited to.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My wife and I have been spending time in Florida.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know it's kind of hard to run a business when you're back and forth and back and forth and and I knew, you know that if this business was going to.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: grow and succeed and keep going that the Jennifer was the one to take it to the next level and certainly having a program like that and you'll be I mean once she explained what it was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I mean it was it was perfect I mean it was really almost better than going just going in and getting an MBA because of the relationships with not only the Faculty who are all.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Nan Nan you be professors they're all people from from the real world in western New York, and then the relationship with the students in our group.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So I thought it was phenomenal and all the questions that she came back and asked.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: or were things that were were ready to be done, you know the account was tired the Attorney was tired, we needed we needed a new look, and so I was very excited about it and, as she went through it and we started putting a lot of these new new elements in place.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: It was it was just logical that she would become the President and then, and then we you know I started talking to tour accountant into our attorneys about how are we going to transition the ownership.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: which we did over time and it sort of goes back to my my cousin Sam Ward recapitalize the business a couple of times in order to.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: bring some ownership of the business to me, and then in in his estate, I already got the rest of the business, but it was we had.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Non voting common stack and voting common stack can preferred stack So the first step was the transition and onboarding common to Jennifer so I still in the comment voting, so I still had control and we did that over a five year period and then last January I gifted the.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Common voting stack to Jennifer sessions are 100% owner, the company and it was it was you know, was the advice of a really great attorney who Jen met a CEO who helped draft all agreements and then our new accountant score, one of whom I knew.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: From from another activity, I was part of.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They really help with evaluation and sort of giving you know, a sort of a second opinion on what the Attorney was doing.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Great and you know, one of the things you're that you're mentioning is the fact of building that team, and that the the people that got you here might not be the people that get you there.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Right and and that's you know really important and you're also talking about that you know the technical piece as well you know the the quantifiable piece, and the.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Come on, one of my the soft side of things which is you know Jennifer skill set and making things you know happen that way through the cel Program.

 

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Michael Palumbos: The buffalo and then the technical side you know i'm putting all those pieces together there's there's a little piece that you know I want to throw in there to make sure that people understand that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: In the absence of you being financially independent already.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You may have had to have sold the business to Jennifer in order to capture those pieces, so one of the reasons I think it's really important.

 

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Michael Palumbos: that people understand that there is probably a spot for that financial advisor as well on that team or somebody that you know you've got they have to be looped in.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So that they so that you know that you're going to be okay.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah and you know and and having the right tax advice as well.

 

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Yes.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know how how how it's all going to be treated tax wise so nobody's going to get some surprise letter from the irs.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah I think that's a really important point to make is that my dad has been very organized financially his whole life and when this transition was starting to take place.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I have a friend who was also going through the transition of her family business, and it was a little arduous, you know and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: um you know my dad had made it clear to me when my Uncle Sam and he had sold the family distribution business he he got his equity then and also has been really judicious with his finances his whole life and got great advice from his.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: His from his attorneys and from his accountants, so it made the transition so much better, and I think one of the things that i'm really the most proud of is.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: From the time I came into the business until the time because we have done evaluation quite a while ago, and then we had to do the do another valuation right before we did the full transition of the ownership and I, the value of the stock had increased like.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: 10 times you know, so I feel you know personally accountable for that the increase in value of the company and so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know I don't have any guilt, about being gifted the business because i've played a major role in growing the organization and and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Increasing the value of the business significantly So my message to anyone listening who's in a family businesses, you know it doesn't have to be complicated and if your children are there and they're involved in the business and they want to be there.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Just let it go, I mean i'm also lucky that I have a father who made a decision, a long time ago that he wanted to go to Florida, for several months, out of the year and plays a lot of golf and it's really active with my mom and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Just as happy, you know being here doing the jobs that we give him which he does all kinds of different jobs does a lot of.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Numbers analysis for us and economic analysis but also does different projects for the tech and it team to win they need some other you know deeper dives on reporting and stuff done so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Just as happy being here like doing that and being a part of our meetings as he is like living his life, would you say that's pretty annoying you know another aspect of the the transfer of ownership is i'm kind of lucky that Jennifer only has one sister.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: she's a school principal, and so I had to treat her equal.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Thank God she didn't have 10 sisters and presidents, it would have been a little more expensive.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah so I you know it just gave a cash gift to my other daughter didn't match the value of the business, and I was kind of lucky along the way i'm.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Trying to think how many years ago was probably 25 years ago I was asked to be a trustee of blackboard savings bank.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And it was it was right after we sold we sold our business, so it had to be in 9192 lockport savings bank was this you know small mutual savings bank.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: In lockport and but they they were transitioning their management and the man they brought him to run to run the Bank at a vision of growing the bank significantly.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So maybe three years after it was on the board, we took it public and became first night or financial group, and you know there's there's there's benefits to being on the board of a.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Public Company.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Potentially yeah absolutely.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Back options fees, which certainly helped.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My life in the.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: end it was a fantastic experience, because we did a lot of acquisitions and you know, so I got to really know a lot of the financial aspects of doing acquisitions and in watching that you know they'll swan was the President, the bank watching him reach out to other banks.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: who may not be thinking being acquired.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But he laid a lot of groundwork out there, so I mean that that experience helped in some of the people that I got to know through that process helped our transition to one of the one of the accountants was very involved with bank of time.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Great eating both of the and so that's really interesting if you if you look at the parallel they're both of you had took some outside interests that came back and help the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know, and so I think it's really important the many times when i'm talking to family owned businesses, and you know, in both of you have talked to a number of family owned businesses through the years there's that maverick.

 

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Michael Palumbos: kind of I have to do it myself kind of attitude, especially in the founders that I talked to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And that leads to not always being open to new ideas and upsize side influence and both of you were positively influenced by outside.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know influences, and so I you know I share that because I think it's you may not have a CEO program in the town that you live in.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But there's probably a college that has a family business, you know group available there's probably a vintage group somewhere around where you're at there's a a family, you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: A business coach that maybe you should be looking at, and you know I I coach businesses as as we've talked about in the family businesses that I coach.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know I tell each of them I would love for you to also be involved in a family business group or vistage group to be surrounded by other CEOs because you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You just need to know that it's.

 

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Michael Palumbos: you're not alone.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Right.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah and you build a great network to you know.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: The CEO program was started in buffalo originally by a group of business owners who were trying to.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Help support entrepreneurs that were getting businesses off the ground in buffalo or even smaller family businesses are smaller businesses that was really their true intent was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know, a group of attorneys and accountants and business don't like more seasoned business owners we're coming together to support these businesses and so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: It started, and then it started to grow, so much so that University of buffalo school of management came in and said hey we'll pull this program into the university.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: will put some professors and to teach the class work, but then the whole network, the network is huge used to be a printed book, it was like this thick of all of the people.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: In the Community that are involved as volunteers that react and listen to people's objectives and help provide input, I have so many connections all across buffalo in terms of the people that I know through that program but yeah whether you're an Eo like I know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: A lot of friends that are on you.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Know organization wide to is a national organization, a lot of associations, like our industrial supply association, they have a family business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: component, they also have a women's business component which i'm really heavily involved in.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So those things are most definitely that's such great advice my goal is that to have to be involved in something like that, especially like wipe you if you're a younger president or younger owner i've heard great things about that group as well.

 

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Michael Palumbos: On a percent hundred percent and all of the all of those things if i'm not mistaken, came from burn hornish started a.

 

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Michael Palumbos: giants and MIT.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yep yep and burn the whole basis for how the Center for entrepreneurial leadership out of you be there is is all based in.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: fern scaling up that's really what they teach off of so you you learn right off the book from there, and I know Eo is like an offshoot of that and I have lots of friends that do that, but really similar models.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: and highly recommend those models for business owners.

 

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Michael Palumbos: When it's when I started I use the scaling up model.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah i'm still using 100% today but it's just more.

 

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Michael Palumbos: We work with Shannon such go out of Canada, who does metronomic.

 

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Michael Palumbos: know what she's.

 

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Michael Palumbos: cute I mean she went through vern schooling and did everything you know her two companies were from burns she just took some things where she added pieces.

 

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Michael Palumbos: To the framework to say this is great, but this is what we did, to take it to another level.

 

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Michael Palumbos: thing and I just i've really appreciated what she's brought to the table now, I know that you're scaling up you know person business by looking at the core values on your website.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So Would you mind just talking about what does culture look like it not plus alliance today, how does it, you know where does it help you and hasn't ever been has it ever hurt you.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: um I would say, so I to kind of describe our cultural answer that question first I do think we have a great culture here, it takes a lot.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: To uphold a culture during co bed so i'm just going to say big shout out to all of business owners and leaders out there that have been holding up culture through coven and still are.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: it's a lot to manage people remotely and continue to sort of MIT people together and bring them together and keep them on the same page when you're not physically with each other all the time.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But I would say, one of the things that I was taught by my dad that he was taught by you know hit my by my Uncle Sam and probably my great uncle's before that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Is premise number one in businesses take really good care of your people, so they take really good care of your customers and.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know that was how my dad ran the business that we're building McCarthy and it's how I run the business here take really good care of my employees, I treat them like family.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: we're very open and collaborative so our you know our our structure here is fairly flat people have a lot of ownership of their jobs, I learned that from a predecessor and a job that I had when I worked back in Boston.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: At ef education they very much were like.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: gave you the ownership of your job, and you did your job, you know independently, nobody was standing over your shoulder watching and making sure that you were doing your work that you're held accountable to the.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: To the objectives that you were wanting to accomplish like that quarter or that year and the goals that were being said, you know so as a team.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My dad and I really work together kind of crunch numbers to set goals, but our team is 100% visible to what our goals are we check in on those every week and everyone is involved in the establishment of their department, you know sort of.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know bucket list of items that they really want to do to help reach those goals, so I think that really foster's the culture that we have anything that you want to add to that, but no, I mean it's kind of funny when you think about culture.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Today, as opposed to 30 or 40 years ago I didn't really think of culture that word brothers are awarded deals in McCarthy, when I was running that business in the late 1980s and the 90s.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But we, we had a culture that just wasn't designed defined very well when I when we sold the business and I went to work for the company that bought us.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: There was a total lack of culture, then, then I really identity realized what culture was.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: It was just a quick story, and when that sort of the culture that business when I was named as a trustee of life savings bank and it's a it's a tremendous honor.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: My boss, the company was based in Ohio and my boss, the President company said well do you really want to do that, and I said, of course, I do, he said, well how much time is it going to take.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I said.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Like a day, a month, probably board meetings and committee meetings, and he said, well, if you want to give up at a week's vacation, then you can go ahead and do it.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: that's when I knew that I needed to find something else to do yeah yeah.

 

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Michael Palumbos: it's it's crazy when you think about it that way it's the lack of culture, you know it's huge what is hiring and you know employee retention been like for you over the last 18 months.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: it's been good, we just hired a new person and he was here today.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: For the first time he's actually joining our team retreat next week, so I wanted him to be able to come into the office, which has company that he's transitioning out of.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: gave him the time to be able to come here and sit and meet with our team today i'm really excited because our businesses based in lockport and he is a lockport native and graduate from lockport high school some really happy to have hired somebody who I consider to be local.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We did have a person we we hired and kind of lost a person in a short period last year, which I don't think it's too.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: similar to what a lot of other business owners are dealing with she had been at her other company for a short period of time before that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: She was a recent graduate just graduated in 2020 had a short stint with another company took our job we train her for three months, and then another.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: agency at age, an ad agency that she had interviewed with called her and offered her a position, and that was really where her heart was was wanting to work in advertising so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: You know no love lost it other than the fact that we invested the time in other investments as well um you as a small business you invest a lot when you hire somebody.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: and train them we take that hiring process really seriously, and so I think every time you go through anything like that you learn from those experiences so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We sat back down with our HR consultants we work through a peo called employer services corporation so that's another kind of small business hack we work through a peo and they do all of our payroll benefits and hr.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So kind of like a buying group healthy they you know they take their entire book of employees across all of their companies that they work with and they negotiate their healthcare rates and things like that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: We sat down with them and they gave us some really good advice, they had said, we think that in this position you're looking for someone who's a little more mature looking for someone who's.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Providing this team is so autonomous in terms of how we work, you need somebody who's at a higher level for this position, so we elevated the position.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And found a great person so that was good advice for us, we also very active within terms, so we are very active with university of buffalo.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Through their internship program and their internship department and we always have at least one intern here at all times, sometimes to throughout the year.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Okay that's great one of the things that I learned from the scaling up was that the whole top grading process and I will share, you know if you haven't read top grading read upgrading.

 

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Michael Palumbos: That one piece has helped me in our hiring better than anything else and it's.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know it's how we hire and how I mean even for the smallest position you know the lowest position in our business when you have three employees and you're going to four.

 

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Michael Palumbos: that's that's a lot, you know and but if you've got you know if you have 200 employees and bringing in that position every position matters.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah and so you know hire slow fire fast is kind of the way that we do things and we really push for those values we have questions around the core values of the company today.

 

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Michael Palumbos: We describe what we do really well, we have questions that are searching out that you know, will they fit the core purpose.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Of want them it, you know I want them to go to lunch with people and make sure that they're a fit and people can see themselves being comfortable as part of it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And people that I talk about this hiring process with the like who's got time for all of them, but they don't have time to retrain somebody that last three or four or six months, and then I have to do it again.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So I agree with that, to a certain extent, I feel like it's that I know that exact same statement of hiring slow in firing fast, I do think that, for small businesses that can be really hard firing people can be hard because.

 

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Michael Palumbos: you're going here.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: you're going to put a gaping hole in your business when that happens and it's just it's painful you know, especially small business owners treat everybody like family so separating from someone is difficult difficult for the owner it's difficult for the whole team.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And I don't think it's ever a good or fun process, so the second part of that in terms of hiring slow.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Not like a big luxury, although in the great resignation as they're calling it.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I think that small business owners are the benefit of that because people are leaving big companies or they're leaving jobs where they don't feel like.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: People take care of them, and we have very flexible work schedule, we are a very family friendly business, I would say, in the sense of allowing people to kind of.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Work their lives, you know work their work around their lives, you know, and all of our all of our team is very committed to the work that they do so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They may pull off here, but then step up later, you know and they the kind of ebb and flow of their work is done in a way that's healthy for them.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And we've learned a lot of good lessons from that you had an employee that came to us last year and said I.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: want to live in Florida, you know my grandparents are down there the weather is nice she had lived at home with her parents through coven and I was like you want to still be here and work for us like that's great you know so she moved and it's been working wonderfully.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So I think that's a big factor is that you do need to maybe be efficient, not fast not hire hire slow but hire efficiently, you know I think you got to be efficient, because.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: People are getting picked up by companies pretty quickly so that would just be my advice dot all the i's like you said, we do core values in our interviewing process.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Make sure you go through background tracks or do credit checks if somebody's going to be handling money we just used a great.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Assessment tool onboarding our new employee, which really helps give us a better picture of kind of how they work and how we should be coaching them and how we should be onboarding them so that's That was a great new thing that we just implemented.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Do you mind sharing the name of the assessment.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So the group that we used through our HR consultant was called work ignite and I believe it was called.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I think that's the name of the assessment tool, but I will get back to you on that so first time so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: you're spend more time, reading the document than looking at the cover of it.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: But it's a it's a fairly new tool and really very thorough and helpful already.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Right yeah we use your desk and colby are the two that we utilized and one of the things we found is by just using one assessment it doesn't give you the full picture, and so you really need to have two or three or something that gives you a multifaceted look at somebody.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So Chan Hannah just a more.

 

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Michael Palumbos: in depth look at.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: This one the lines, the job.

 

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Michael Palumbos: With the person.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: For so molly who's the director of marketing who's hiring for the position she actually did a did a survey questionnaire first.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: And then aligned that up against the strengths of our new employee and was really a nice fit and there were just there's just some things in terms of like I said with onboarding to be sure that we're you know paying attention to some of the ways that he prefers to work.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it nice yeah so if you're talking to you know family businesses in front of you right now and and just wanted to impart you know what other pieces of wisdom to impart that we haven't talked about already is there anything else that you'd like to say to the.

 

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Michael Palumbos: whoever's listening to this podcast.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Let you go.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Yes, that's a tough question I well, I think I think you have to have the right.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: The right family member or Members, I know, when I went to work for my cousin.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: He said that's it we're not going to hire any other family members.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Because he said we just we don't have we don't have the bandwidth to hire that many people and pay that many people in sort of in a family level.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: So I think you have to pick the right family member Member or members, depending on the size of business, and I think your advice of doing something.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Different before you go in the family business, I know, in the distributors, a lot of who I knew growing up in the business.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: their parents its father had sent them out to work for a friend, maybe across the country or somewhere else you know here take care of my son for for a couple years and knowing, knowing that we're going to want to back.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Right, and I think that's that's really good advice and then and then certainly some networking or some educational experience like Jennifer it.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Was phenomenal for our company.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Great.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Thanks Dan that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah and I would say trust that would be the one word I would use because.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Through this whole time period, working with my dad he's always trusted me and even when i've done things that didn't work out or.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I want to try something he trusted me to do that, and if it didn't work out, we knew it wasn't going to be catastrophic so.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: I think, to trust your children or your family members that come into the business and also you know.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Taking that down to your employees, you know, to really we trust them to do the jobs that they do, and I know that they know that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: They do an incredible job, taking care of our Members and our customers, and so I think that's probably the biggest piece of advice I would have for family businesses just really trust each other.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it and you know to that point Jennifer I want to you know, make sure that people understand how to do that if they don't know it, Patrick Len cod's five dysfunctions of a team.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Oh yeah he builds the pyramid and the the the foundation of that pyramid is all about trust.

 

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Michael Palumbos: and understanding what trust means and what it is, is just being able to like you said I, I made a decision to go down a certain path dad trust me to do it, whether it worked out or it didn't work out, you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And and and he did.

 

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Michael Palumbos: We learn from you know if there is a mistake in there, we learn from it, and so you know, Patrick lens the only spy dysfunctions of a team and how to overcome them I tell everybody.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Whether it's a family business or not, you know or you're just working with your non family members, your leadership team it's a great framework to continue those kinds of things, and when you look at your core values.

 

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Michael Palumbos: it's all through out there, you know grow together be nimble value relationships be accountable for results embrace change be honest and genuine genuine.

 

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Michael Palumbos: If you haven't read five dysfunctions of a team, you will love it and it'll be a great book club for your leadership team to go through, but it fits everything that that you talked about in your core values I love them.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: Thank you.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I am so excited and really feel blessed that the two of you shared what you've shared with us today, I want to say thank you to Jennifer and Dan.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And if people you know heard this yet and wanted to reach out in terms of if somebody from the buffalo area wanted to talk to you about CEO is that OK.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And then the other one is if you're a family business in the construction or manufacturing industry and what some information about you know this buying you know group alliance net plus alliance, you should definitely reach out.

 

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Michael Palumbos: To Jennifer as well, for that.

 

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Jennifer Murphy: yeah most definitely, thank you for that pitch appreciate it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: No problem i'm Michael Columbus this has been the family business show and with family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And we really appreciate you listening today it'd be sure to subscribe, so that you don't miss future episodes and we'll talk to you the next time on family this show Thank you.

If you’re a family business or a family business consultant and want to be on the show, share your story and help other family businesses, send us an email to producer@thefamilybizshow.com or fill out a contact form here!

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Michael Palumbos is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Family Wealth & Legacy, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a legal or tax advisor regarding any legal or tax information as it relates to your personal circumstances.

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