Mom’s the boss

Ask four different mothers what it’s like to manage their own children and their businesses at the same time, and you’ll get four very different answers.

Gina Tollner, owner of G&R Trends International Fashion and Gift Boutique in Johnstown, said she believes raising four children has helped make her a better small business owner. Two of her daughters, Jessica Pirozzi and Cassandra King, help her operate the store.

“Dealing with four different personality types and managing a household and trying to develop your children, all of that helps you get along with all different types of customers and help steer them the right way. Running a family is almost like running a business in itself,” she said. “Helping with business has helped my daughters develop their skills, which I hope will either help them get with a good business … or maybe someday start one of their own. I always believe that the best thing is to own your own business. My father was a business owner and you have your customers to answer to, but you don’t have someone telling you what to do all of the time and you have a lot of leeway as to which direction you want to go in.”

Rosemary Beebie is part-owner of Brilliant Design & Printing in Gloversville with her sons Shawn Beebie and Stephen Beebie. From 1982 until the death of her husband Craig Beebie in 2012, Rosemary helped operate the family’s first printing company, Beebie Printing and Art Agency. After Craig died, Rosemary and her sons renamed the business, but continued the firm’s focus on printing and design of products such as signs, catalogs, letterheads, wedding invitations, business logos, business cards, among many other products.

She said she acts as office manager and doles out assignments to her son, Stephen, who handles the firms graphic arts designs, and to the company’s long-time employee Joseph Constantino. Shawn handles the company’s sales.

“You have to almost in a way forget that you are a mother and they are your sons. I’m not the boss in the sense that we have an equal-share partnership, but we have morning meetings where we sit down and discuss the jobs that we’re going to tackle that day and we agree who’s going to do what,” she said. “Somebody has to take the lead and being the mother, I’m older and hopefully a little wiser. I call myself the office manager and I tell them what they are going to be doing. I’m the one who talks to the customers and I know exactly what they want.”

Rosemary said she also knows exactly which jobs are best suited for which employe at the company.

“Stephen is excellent at artistic designs, coming up with new, fresh ideas. Whereas Joe is more methodical with form and typesetting; he’s very mathematical. He can typeset until the cows come home,” she said.

Luci Fernandez manages the office for the two businesses she co-owns with her husband, CFI Construction in Johnstown and Outdoor Motor Sports in Amsterdam. She said both her sons, Frank and Garrett, work for the family and knowing where each fits in best has helped them to be successful.

“Garrett started last January part-time at [Outdoor Motor Sports], but he’s more of a hands-on outdoors type of person, so we realized that really wasn’t for him, so he’s decided to take on the construction company and Frank is handling Outdoor Motor Sports,” she said. “I’ll be honest, they have shined. Frank graduated from Texas A&M and he decided to come home even though he had many job offers out there. He really has made Outdoor Motor Sports into the business it is today. It needed a lot of work, but he has phenomenal interpersonal skills.

Kim Snyder is part-owner of three businesses: two, K2 Liquor and Drew’s Dogs, both in Gloversville, with her husband , and Core Fit in Mayfield with another partner. Snyder she learned how to manage her time working opposite shifts from her husband for 14 years at the liquor store, so at least one of them could be available for their son Drew. Now that Drew is a teenager the parents work the same shift and they’ve put their son to work for them.

“This summer he’s going to start by mowing our lawns at Drew’s Dogs and the liquor store,” she said. “He will definitely be working through his high-school career. We’re hoping he will get our work ethic. That would be nice. That’s our plan.”