Family businesses take center stage

By: John Myers


Belmont Car Wash & Detailing, Stop & Compare Supermarkets, and Interstate Electrical Services placed first in three size-based categories at this year’s Family Business Awards—the ninth annual showcase for local multi-generational family businesses organized by D’Amore-McKim’s Center for Family Business.

Gov. Charlie Baker recently declared June 10th “Family Business Day,” forming the perfect backdrop to an awards show that gathered more than 125 family business representatives, researchers, and others inside Northeastern’s Fenway Center. Along with the top prizes, several businesses were honored for doing what so many struggle to do: successfully passing the torch from one generation of family business leaders to the next.

Just 30 percent of all family-owned businesses will see a second-generation take the reins. A third generation? Only 12 percent. Last night, however, the Center was able to add 13 businesses to its “30-percent Club,” 18 to its “12-percent Club,” and another six businesses to its “3-percent Club”—the few businesses that have placed a fourth generation at the helm. One business, John Nagle Co., was honored for reaching the fifth generation.

Family businesses honored at Northeastern University
For a full list of finalists, read the Boston Business Journal's coverage.


D’Amore-McKim’s involvement with family business runs deep, and The Center for Family Business stands at the middle of this engagement. Founded in 1991, the Center is a membership-based educational program that mixes scholarly work with hands-on consulting and peer organizing. The complexities of mixing family dynamics into a competitive business environment can be daunting, and the Center helps businesses identify and avoid pitfalls.

The Center’s work also feeds into Northeastern’s classrooms, and Emery Trahan, D’Amore-McKim’s Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Research, opened the awards show by highlighting Northeastern’s commitment to family entrepreneurship. He took note of the business school’s renowned researchers—including Kimberly Eddleston, whose work on family businesses and women entrepreneurs has earned numerous awards—as well as the many ways students are exposed to family business issues in their entrepreneurship coursework.

“Small and family businesses are leaders in job creation and innovation, and I’m not sure that’s always understood,” he said.

The event continued with a panel discussion featuring previous award winners, Barry Lipsett, President and Owner of Charles River Apparel, and Mark Silverman, DMSB'15 (Business Administration) and founder of Mark’s Moving & Storage. The two shared lessons on running successful family businesses; for example, Silverman stressed the importance of equitably distributing both the labor and rewards among family members while Lipsett brought up the benefits of empowering family to do what they’re passionate about professionally.

Giving back to the larger community was another theme. “We spend as much time talking about how to be profitable as how to give back to the community,” Silverman said.

The awards closed with the presentation of this year’s winners.

Belmont Car Wash & Detailing, winner in the small business category, was lauded for its ability to keep pace with shifting lifestyles, expand its business, and ensuring quality personal service. Stop and Compare Supermarkets, winner in the medium business category, impressed judges with its strong community connections and wide variety of affordable products. In the large business category, winner Interstate Electrical Services was noted for its ability to grow during recessions, expand its services in a highly competitive industry, and implement merit-based rewards for employees.

“We’ve been with the [Center for Family Business] for three years and I highly recommend it,” said Alberto Calvo, E'70 (Industrial Engineering) and president of Stop and Compare Supermarkets. “The knowledge you get from the peers is just immense.”

Peter Howe, Barry Lipsett, and Mark Silverman (left to right). Photo by Jenn Alton 

Betty Calvo, Peter Howe, Alberto Calvo (left to right). Photo by Jenn Alton


Sponsors for the Family Business Awards include Burns & Levinson LLP, Gray Gray & Gray, CFAR, Mass Mutual Financial Group, Commonwealth Financial Group, and Middlesex Savings Bank. Learn more by visiting the Massachusetts Family Business Awards website at http://www.mafba.com/.