The Stewardship Of A Family Legacy: Interview with Tom Flottman

It’s obvious that working with family is dear to us through our show, with BusinessBeware.Biz and through our own businesses. Sure, it’s tough working with family but the pros far outweigh the cons as far as we are concerned. Not everyone has worked with family but many do come from families with an entrepreneurial background and sometimes that plays a huge role on a person deciding to create their own business. We asked current business owners if their parents or family members inspired them to start their business and if they do work with family to share some insight on how they work together. See what Tom Flottman of Flottman Company had to say about his inspiration for starting his business…

Did you grow up with your parents owning a business or any family members that were entrepreneurs? If so, tell us who in your family were business owners and how they inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

T: My father, grandfather and uncle owned and operated the Flottman Company, a print and advertising firm. My father specialized in the print side, my uncle the advertising. I was fascinated by the business and inspired by their entrepreneurial spirit and investment of time and energy.

If you decided to join the family business rather than start your own, what was the deciding factor for you? If you started your own business because you didn’t want to join the family, what was the reason?

T: I was intoxicated by the passion family members had for Flottman Company, their pride, sense of stewardship and idea for a family legacy were factors in my determining to join the company.

What was the hardest thing about growing up with family members owning a business? And if you work with family, what is the toughest thing about working everyday together?

T: While I became part of the family firm upon graduation from college, I eventually became involved in entrepreneurial ventures of my own. These were always encouraged, especially by my grandfather and father. Both showed a sense of pride in my endeavors. My father and mother invested in one of my ventures. Also, entrepreneurship within the family firm continues to be important and has always been encouraged.

Even though your family members were entrepreneurs, were they supportive of you creating your own business?

T: While I became part of the family firm upon graduation from college, I eventually became involved in entrepreneurial ventures of my own. These were always encouraged, especially by my grandfather and father. Both showed a sense of pride in my endeavors. My father and mother invested in one of my ventures. Also, entrepreneurship within the family firm continues to be important and has always been encouraged.

When you created your startup did you ask your parents for funding or did you choose to get a bank loan?

T: Both my mother and father invested in one of my entrepreneurial ventures outside the family business, JFM Properties. JFM purchased, developed and had placed on the Federal Registry of Historic Places, a late 1800’s vintage ice manufacturing plant. Also, my father and I formed Lithotech to provide pre-press services to the family firm. I had bank loans as part of the funding for both of these ventures.

What was the hardest thing about growing up with family members owning a business? And if you work with family, what is the toughest thing about working everyday together?

T: I had no sense of any particular difficulty about my family members owning and operating our family business, other than those issues all small businesses face. That was the way it always had been. Flottman Company had been there well before I was born. This was where family worked 40-50 hours per week. Pretty normal. The toughest part about working with family is that sometimes it was too much togetherness.

What’s the best thing about working with family?

T: The best thing about working with family was everyone’s sense of pride in what they accomplished together, the stewardship of the family legacy. The trust we had for each other fostered the understanding that we could and did rely upon one another.

What’s the best piece of advice you received from family members that have been there, done that?

T: Find your passion in your work. Don’t work at the family business because mom or dad wants you to or because it offers and easy career path. Do what you want to do. My dad also advised me that no matter what goes wrong in a business situation, there is always an excuse. “Everybody has an excuse.” He would tell them “to do it right or get out.”

Tell us about Flottman Company and what it’s all about…

T: A couple notable start-ups were the Ice House and Lithotech. The Ice House was a 19th century ice manufacturing plant located on the riverfront in Covington, Kentucky, just across the river from downtown Cincinnati. We had the building qualified and listed on the National Registry of Historical Places and had plans to develop it into a retail shopping and entertainment complex. Lithotech was a venture where my father and I partnered to form an entity to provide pre-press services to the family firm.

What do you do outside of your business for fun and a way to recharge the batteries?

T: For fun and relaxation I enjoy athletics- golf, tennis, cycling and skiing. I love to garden, read, travel with my family and spend time with Anne, my wife of 31 years.

Learn more about Tom and his business at FlottmanCompany.com www.Rxperts.org and on Facebook

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