A sibling ‘rivalry’

For three north country families, the bonds that lead to success in business began as brotherly

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY Business CAPTION Lyndaker Timber Harvest, Croghan, is run by brothers, from left, Wade, Travis, Cody, and Matt.

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY Business
Lyndaker Timber Harvest, Croghan, is run by brothers, from left, Wade, Travis, Cody, and Matt.

STORY BY: NORAH MACHIA
NNY BUSINESS

Despite what some skeptics may believe, it is really possible for brothers to successfully work together in a family business. The main reason? There is typically a very strong incentive on everyone’s part to succeed.

That’s the message from several brothers who work in family businesses throughout the north country. In some cases, they found that having assigned roles in the company helps things run smoothly, along with maintaining some type of system that allows for those “collaborative management decisions.”

For others, it’s a matter of faith.

“We’ve worked together for a long time and we know each other well,” said Matthew D. Lyndaker, 39, the oldest brother of the Lyndaker Timber Harvesting LLC, Croghan. “But sometimes the challenge is trying to see eye-to-eye with four or five differing opinions.”

As far as dealing with any disagreements on the job, “they’ll always be my brothers, so we need to get along,” he said. “I try to use a Christian attitude when I deal with my brothers.”

Lyndaker Timber Harvesting LLC was formed in 2005 when all four brothers — Matthew, Wade, Travis and Cody — became members with their parents, David and Anita Lyndaker.

The business was initially started in 1998 as David Lyndaker and Sons. Prior to 1998, David worked with his brother Daniel in a partnership, Lyndaker Logging.

The brothers had spent a lot of time around the business growing up, and they all started working full-time after graduation from River Valley Mennonite School.

Lyndaker Timber Harvesting provides a variety of timber products to several operations, including ReEnergy Black River, Fort Drum; International Paper, Ticonderoga; Finch Paper, Glens Falls; and New England Wood Pellet, Schuyler.

Because each brother has a designated role in the business, such as operating different equipment, they are not always in the same place at the same time, Matthew said.

“Some of us work together, but not with the same ones all the time,” said Matthew, who operates a feller buncher and a loader. “We always have two jobs going, sometimes three.”

But they also have the capability to fill in for each other when needed if someone wants to take vacation time, and that is an added benefit to the brothers working together, he said.

Wade E. Lyndaker, 36, operates the whole tree chipper and manages his own crew.

“The main advantage of working with your siblings is knowing where they really excel or struggle,” Wade said. “This knowledge can pertain to everything from where they are gifted in operating certain equipment to the social aspects of work.”

But in reality, sometimes there are disagreements among the brothers, and they need to work together to find a resolution, he said.

“When differences of opinion occur, knowing that we all have a common goal helps,” he said. “Personally, being a Christian allows me to humbly enter situation with my brothers that might

be confrontational.”

It does take coordination, however, for family members to plan for any vacation time, because it involves “being flexible and able to shift workers between crews when someone needs time off,” Wade said.

“Sometimes we work together, but frequently we are working with different crews,” he said.

Travis L. Lyndaker, 34, operates a feller buncher, and a loader.

“We are all on the same page, we have each other’s back,” he said. “We don’t need to babysit each other.”

However, when they don’t see “eye-to-eye,” they handle it with “tough love,” Travis said.

“We have it out and get over it,” he said. “We are brothers, so it’s only natural to have differences. At the end of the day, we all know why we’re here.”

While other topics of conversation may come up outside of work, in reality, “it’s pretty much impossible not to talk about work when we are together, it’s just an aspect of a family business operation,” he said.

Cody L. Lyndaker, 28, operates the whole tree chipper and loader, and manages the landing.

One advantage of working together is having the opportunity to see his brothers often, but at times, “everyone has different idea,” he said.

“It’s hard to separate work from personal life, but once in awhile, I take a weekday off to spend time hunting,” he said. “We speak our mind to each other, and for the most part, the next day we’re fine.”

Waite Toyota

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES From left Darrik, Matthew, Barry, and Justin Waite in the lot of Waite Toyota in Watertown.

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n NNY BUSINESS
From left Darrik, Matthew, Barry, and Justin Waite in the lot of Waite Toyota in Watertown.

There are three brothers — Darrick, Justin and Matthew — who represent the fourth generation of the family-owned and operated Waite Toyota-Scion Dealership at 18406 Route 11, Watertown.

They all grew up spending time in the business — doing odd jobs such as washing cars, mowing lawns and repainting light poles.

The dealership was started in 1929 in Adams by owner Barry L. Waite’s grandfather, Easton Waite. He had started off selling Studebakers, and after the Great Depression, he expanded the dealership by selling Alice Chalmers tractors as well.

The Waite family dealership was relocated to Adams Center in the 1950s, and when Studebaker announced in the mid-1960s it was going to cease production of its vehicles, the family switched to Toyota and moved back to Adams.

Barry Waite and his father, Paul C., bought out the business in 1976. After his father’s death in 1986, Barry Waite took over the operation of the dealership at the age of 32. In 1988, the business was moved to its current location in Watertown, and in 2013, the family opened its new service and parts department in a renovated adjacent building.

Waite Toyota is one of 12 dealerships nationwide that was recently recognized for being in business 50 years (out of approximately 1,300 dealerships nationwide).

The Watertown dealership has been awarded Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s President’s Award for outstanding sales and service nearly 20 times. The family business, which also supports many nonprofit organizations in the community, was featured in the Winter 2002 “Pictures of the Year” issue of Time magazine.

The company started a motorsports division in 1996 and later relocated it to a separate building in Adams Center. Waite Motorsports carries a variety of ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and lawnmowers. It also offers repair services, and sales of parts and accessories.

Each brother oversees a particular area of the family-owned business, and the arrangement helps to make things run smoothly, they said.

The oldest brother, Darrick N., 36, is serving as the general manager at the dealership. He started working in the dealership after graduating with a business degree from LeMoyne College, Syracuse, where he played on the lacrosse team.

“At first, I wasn’t certain I wanted come back,” said Darrick. “But I spent time working in different departments, and figured this is what I wanted to do for a living.”

Darrick said he and his brothers work well together, because they are not only co-workers, but “we’re also friends,” he said.

“It makes easier for us to ask questions and get answers,” Darrick said. “We don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings.”

Although the brothers may naturally get competitive with each other, “that doesn’t really happen at work, it’s more when we socialize outside the business – like during a hunting or fishing trip,” he said.

One thing they all agree upon, however, is that “we all have big shoes to fill between the three of us,” he said, referring to Barry Waite.

Justin P., 32, is the company’s used car and wholesale manager. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be involved in the family business. Justin started working full-time at Waite Toyota after obtaining his degree in business administration from Jefferson Community College.

“I love cars, and I always had the idea I would be working here,” he said. “The dealership has been in the family for so long, so it seemed like a wise move.”

A major advantage of having all three brothers involved in the family business is that “we all have the same goal, and we work very hard on a personal level to achieve it,” said Justin.

The youngest brother, Matthew J., 30, is the general manager of Waite Motorsports in Adams Center.

The position was a good fit for him because “I always like toys,” he joked.

While they can’t take a large family trip together very often, the brothers can help cover for each other during vacation time, he said.

Not only are the brothers working to continue the successful operation of the family business, but they are aiming for another milestone as well, Matthew said.

“Our goal is to have another generation running Waite Toyota after us,” he said.

The Monette family 

The Monette brothers in Malone have found success working together by building a large portfolio of operations throughout the region.

The three brothers — Bruce Jr., Brian and Christopher — started with the Malone-based Adirondack Energy Products Inc., which includes Adirondack Energy, Adirondack Propane, Adirondack Waste Solutions and Mountain Mart convenience stores and gas stations.

Bruce, 52, is the oldest (although he claims to be the youngest-looking brother). He began building the business in 1988, “but it did not actually get moving with any earnest until my brother Brian came on board in 1991,” he said.

Both are graduates of Clarkson University. Bruce earned a degree in industrial distribution, the combined study of engineering and business, and Brian, 49, earned an accounting degree.

While Bruce worked in Texas and Brian worked in Syracuse following college graduation, they both decided to eventually return to Malone. Their younger brother, Christopher, 45, joined them in the family business after graduating from Canton ATC in 1993 with a business administration degree.

“As our business grew, we were quick to realize we had to incorporate our most popular brother into the company, and Christopher “Dude” Monette began his tenure with Adirondack,” Bruce said.

The three brothers are now all equal principals in the family businesses, although the two younger ones elected him to be “spokesperson,” Bruce said.

Adirondack Energy Products, Inc. was the first entity the brothers created, and “has been the standard bearer for all that we have done,” he said.

“It has the longest tenure, and for the three of us, it holds the most special place among all our other units,” he added.

Adirondack is a full service energy company offering every variety of distilled energy products, propane, motor fuel, diesel and finished products. It is a Mobil-branded gasoline distributor supplying a number of retail outlets, most of which the brothers own and operate as Mountain Mart convenience stores.

They also operate Adirondack Waste Solutions, a retail and commercial refuse collection and disposal company, in Franklin, Clinton, Essex and St. Lawrence counties.

“The main advantage to working here for me personally, is the fact that I get to work with my brothers each and every day for a common cause,” Bruce said. “Not only do we strive to be successful businessmen, we also want to be good stewards of the community and try in any way possible to enhance the quality of life in the north country.”

“We all have raised our families here, and we all agree that we have to constantly focus on giving back to the area that has been so good to us,” he added. “We have a proprietary charity called Adirondack for Kids, and we try to focus on the younger members of our community as much as possible.”

The brothers also own Titus Mountain Family Ski Center in Malone, which is open year round (not only for skiing in the winter, but for weddings and other special events). It will again be the site of Empire State Winter Games competitions next year.

“We feel it will be our best winter ever,” said Bruce. “For the last five years we have spent millions of dollars on improvements to every aspect of the mountain.”

The brothers have invested in building new lodges and remodeling all facilities on site as well. They have also cut some additional terrain to bring the number of trails up to 50, and modernized their snow making operation.

“With the capital expenditures mostly complete, we have been able to lower the cost of our season pass products substantially,” Bruce said. “The results have far exceeded our expectations, and we have more season pass customers now than at any time in the mountain’s history.”

Below the slopes is a sand and gravel quarry offering all types of aggregate material for construction purposes and sand for different concrete blends. This is a separate entity known as Titus Mountain Sand and Gravel, he said.

The brothers recently tapped approximately 20,000 maple trees adjacent to the ski terrain for their “proprietary Moon Valley Maple award-winning 100 percent organic maple syrup,” Bruce said.

“The family model and the concept of family first truly is the most important aspect of who we are, what we do, and why we do it,” he said “From my humble opinion, if we had a bigger focus on the family, many of our modern day afflictions would be much less prevalent.”

The brothers also own and operate several other businesses in Malone, including Mo’s Pub and Grill, a full service restaurant and banquet facility. Adirondack Power Sports, which is a Polaris/Yamaha dealership selling ATV’s, four wheelers, snowmobiles, watercraft, campers and recreational vehicles, is another of their business ventures.

They have built and now manage two new Dairy Queen Grill and Chill locations, the first in Malone, and the second in Colonie.

The Monette brothers have also joined forces with others outside the family for business ventures. They are partners with a local real estate developer, Chris Labarge and a local attorney, Nathan Race, for two new Holiday Inn Express properties in Malone and Oswego.

Speaking of his brothers, Bruce said “rarely do we have a major difference of opinion, but when we do, the consensus model usually rules the day.”

“We are mature and seasoned enough to understand all points are valid, and we typically try to make a decision that will be best for both the company, the employees, and the community,” he added. “When we focus on aspects beyond the financial, it has a tendency to make the issue much clearer.”