A family business....


As we inch closer to the launch of this new business, many experiences along the way present themselves often as unexpected joys in starting a family business. Last Saturday was one of those experiences.

A few weeks ago, we went to the effort of loading up the U-Haul in Santa Barbara, headed for Palo Alto, with probably two thousand pounds of charts in a wide range of formats. Posters laminated and un-laminated; placemat sized charts, boxes and boxes of rolled charts as well as too many boxes of folded charts ideal for carrying along on the next Channel Islands sail, but I'm not really sure how we'll sell them as art...but that's another story...

All this valuable inventory of beautifully designed and carefully crafted nautical charts was conspicuously plopped down in the corner of our home office once we returned to Palo Alto. Then, for the next 3 weeks, I would sit and stare at all the work this pile of paper represented.

Shelves needed to be constructed, piles of product needed to be organized and moved into place. The foundation of an operation that hopefully proved to be efficient and more importantly, profitable, sat and stared at me from the other side of this large pile of work waiting to be done.

So finally, on a Saturday, one day before we would have some friends over for bar-b-que, my son and I endeavored to climb this mountain of maps, building the shelves, organizing the inventory and laying the foundation for what we expect will be a project the whole family is involved in for years to come.

My son is turning 9 this year. That's about the age where "help from the kid" sometimes means something like "more work for me than it's worth."  But my son was too excited to be satisfied sitting on the sidelines of this project. Spreadsheets and eCommerce websites might be beyond him, but manual labor is right up his alley, and he was committed to being involved in the effort.

So, I bit the bullet and asked him to dive into it with me that Saturday morning.  

Instead of the typical cartoon binge, this day was going to be all about heavy lifting and physical strain.  

And we went to work. We worked hard, I mean really hard. The sweat beaded up on our brows, we'd just squeegee it off with our fingers and keep on moving. For four solid hours, we toiled toward our task of giving this new family business an inventory storage structure. This was not just about shelves and stacks. This was about optimizing operational efficiency and maximizing inventory control for profitable management of a global...well, maybe local...supply chain.

At the end of it, we had the paper cuts and sore muscles to testify to a hard day's work. And I had a new level of appreciation for my son. I could honestly say, we finished in probably half the time it would have taken me to do it myself. Maybe one year prior, his "help" may have made the work last twice as long as had I embarked alone. This day was truly an evolution in our father/son relationship. And I could not be happier.