The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Embracing Family Matters to Enrich & Energize Business
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's BIg Idea comes from John Sperrazza, Sales Manager at Advanced Alarm in the Buffalo, NY area.
SPERAZZA'S BIG IDEA:
[If you are involved in the family business] you need to be willing to work just as hard as any other [employee]m even harder. Before I decided to come on board with Advanced Alarm, I knew I would have to work harder than anyone else in the company because my father was the hardest working person I know.
OHN SPERRAZZA IS A CLASS ACT, a class act, a good friend, and the founder of Advanced Alarm Inc., in the Buffalo, NY area. But this is not about John; it's about his son Robert, who seems on his way to becoming as classy and active as his father. However, I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.
FOLLOWING HIS FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS
I met Bob a little over a year ago when my grandson and I were the guests of the Sperrazzas at a Buffalo Bills game. My grandson Ben was interested in going into sports management, John mentioned that his company handled practically all of the Buffalo Bills security, one thing led to another and early last fall we all spent an exciting and eventful day at Ralph Wilson Stadium with seating in the owner's box, which kind of gives you an idea of the high regard in which John Sperrazza is held by Bills management. Although my grandson was quite a few years younger than Bob Sperrazza, they hit it off, and Bob went out of his way to spend quality time with Ben during our visit.
Jump ahead to a few weeks ago, when the Sperrazzas attended a conference at which I was speaking. I could tell John was excited about something he wanted to tell me, and the news was that Bob had just been appointed sales manager for the company. Bob, too, was awfuly excited, and I figured this was a good time to ask, "If you had just one really great idea to share with other children and/or family members in a family-run business, what would it be?" His answer: "You need to be willing to work just as hard as any other [employee], even harder. Before I decided to come on board with Advanced Alarm, I knew I would have to work harder than anyone else in the company because my father was the hardest working person I know, and has spent the last 25 years building this company into what it is today."
Later, when I spoke to John about his son's comments, he reinforced Bob's thoughts on hard work, noting "He's the first one in, and the last one out, and seems to get more done than people who'd been there half their lives."
WORK TO ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES
As I get more speaking engagements and meet more and more people, I'm constantly amazed at how many work in family businesses in the alarm industry. Even more amazing, family members seem to get along and work well with other family members. I don't think many of them get up in a morning and think about that aspect; it's something that is intuitive, comes naturally, and when it works, it really works well. I watched the Sperrazzas during the time we were at this industry event together, and I could't help but notice about how close they seem to be. It wasn't just father/son closeness, but rather the type of closeness that's forged between equals working toward the same goals.
I've seen this over and over again in the industry, and I wonder if this is some sort of an industry paradigm — brothers and brothers; brothers and sisters; nieces and nephews — I've seen all sorts of familial successes. One of the keys seems to be that they have, individually, an assigned responsibility that does not corss over into other family members' areas of responsibility.
It is said that success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile predetermined goal. I believe that to be true. In talking to the Sperrazzas, their goals seem to be well aligned and together they are working toward achieving them. I know it's not always easy, and in fact can be downright hard for fathers and sons to work this way, but watching John and Bob together I was struck by the thought that this what life is all about. I can't imagine a more rewarding satisfaction than this type of shared achievement.
On a related note, if you are a member of an industry group that's looking toward young people and their role in ensuring the future of the industry, I would urge you to contact and ask Bob to joing your group. He has some pretty good ideas about successful family businesses and the next generation of leadership.
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.