My husband and I never imagined that our Telephone Answering Company would grow into a family business that allows each of our four children and their spouses to work with each other in complete harmony…
In 1974 when my family relocated to South Florida, our son Frank was already off to law school and he never thought he would be affected by the move. Our second son, Michael had just completed his first year of college, Stephen was still in high school and Wendy was about to enter junior high. Little by little, our children started to become involved in our business.
Michael was the first of our kids to join the company, however after about seven years the entrepreneurial bug bit him and he started his own business. Then Stephen graduated from the University of Florida and moved back to South Florida to join the business. It took maybe a year before things started happening. Our old switchboards were being pushed aside for new technology and Stephen became the perfect person to learn these new technologies. He picked up on the art of telephony quickly and soon started training on every new piece of equipment that we purchased.
While the business was just getting moving Wendy our youngest got married and moved back to Florida. She was a natural for helping out with sales and soon sat beside me as we built relationships with customers. We always seemed to need more help and soon Wendy identified a sharp young lady who just started working with us on the switchboards. Her name was Diane and she eventually became Stephen’s wife.
As we grew, Herman started to leverage his friendships with other answering services and one by one we started buying some of them. The beauty of this plan was that we could use our same top staff to manage more of the agents making it more cost effective for us to handle the additional business. One of these deals however went sour. Herman bought a company in which one of the employees had a different idea. Since he knew the customers better he opened a competing service and took most of the clients we bought. This prompted an extended legal battle that left Herman drained for months. Then Frank graduated from law school and armed with his new law degree the case was brought to a close. The rogue employee handed over 700 customers and a $200,000 check. Even though Frank was not employed by the company he was always there for advice and support from that point forward.
Herman knew we would eventually have to find a new office if we wanted to continue to grow the business and soon started to become unhappy at our Oakland Park location. This was around the time that 800 numbers were starting to become popular and Michael had recently come back into the business. One day while in the office, we noticed the water was off. Now this wasn’t the first time the ‘landlord forgot to pay the water bill’ and Herman was furious, but he also felt trapped. He thought we had three years left in our lease. After we reviewed it however, we realized that it would be up in three months and that we were responsible for paying the water bill, not the landlord. It was around this time when Herman decided to open another Answering Service Division in the West side of Broward County. He settled in Margate, Florida.
Michael was the last of my children to get married. At the time we saw a weakness in our systems surrounding Human Resources, it was ironic that Michael married a young woman who had majored in Human Resources, Alizabeth Shooster who was another great addition to the company.
As we grew Wendy’s role changed to sales manager and I started relaxing a bit more. She was a natural; Wendy was always very active and outgoing. Because of this and the fact that our clients who used 800 numbers were much larger she began entertaining them when they came to visit. Wendy also started the company picnic and initiated the anniversary milestone programs. When it came to making sure people were happy, everyone from the staff to the clients she was tops.
While everything was moving along Wendy’s husband Max reached his ten year anniversary with the State Attorney’s office and decided he wanted something different. Max joined our company, now renamed Answering Service Care, and focused on Operations. With his eagle eye the company took another leap forward.
As the company matured and our legal requirements grew, Frank came into the business full-time. Frank’s wife, Agnes, took on the management of sales for our fulfillment center business. Finally, my entire family was employed by the successor company to the little telephone answering business we had purchased years ago.
It warms my heart that each of my children have come into the company. And even though there are always differences in opinion, our family still strives for just one thing, the well-being of our clients and our employees.