Like Father, Like Son: Clayton business owners complement construction with supporting enterprises

Daytona Niles / NNY BUSINESS
Lance Peterson, Sr., and Lance Peterson, Jr., stand in one of the new condo apartments on Riverside Drive in Clayton where they recently completed. The father and son duo’s businesses worked together to complete this project.

BY: Marcus Wolf

Some fathers lament when their sons decide not to join in the family business and follow in their footsteps, but Clayton entrepreneur Lance L. Peterson Sr. was proud when his son, Lance L. Peterson Jr., opened his own.

    Fewer parents can say they work with their children even after they leave the nest to pursue their own ambitions, but both the elder and younger Peterson have tackled jobs together for years, developing a synergy that allows them to complete the task at hand.

    “We can leave our father-son hats in the truck,” the elder Peterson said.  “When we’re on a job site, we’re just two professional contractors.”

    The younger Peterson opened his company LP Builders in 2006 rather than working at one of his father’s businesses, which include Peterson’s Painting, Peterson’s Plowing, River Bottom Bar and Grill and Peterson’s Ponderosa, a name the elder Peterson gave to his beef cattle operation.

    His son’s decision to pursue his own venture, however, came as no surprise to the elder Peterson, who said LP Builders was a testament to his son’s “tremendous amount of ambition.”

    “He’s always been his own man. I like the Giants, he likes the Packers,” the elder Peterson said. “All he had to do was take the reins.”

    An interest in carpentry sparked within the younger Peterson while he was growing up.

    The younger Peterson said he was given carpentry work at home on Longview Island while he was also serving as its caretaker.  Philip J. Randazzo, who now owns Coyote Moon Vineyards, hired him later on while he was operating Whiskey Island Construction.

    “I was kind of set up to do it,” the younger Peterson said. “(I had also) been picking up my own work subcontracting and contracting.”

    Painting never attracted the younger Peterson, although he said he couldn’t explain why. The elder Peterson said he believed his son didn’t find that type of work challenging.

    “He loves tools. He’s always loved tools and loved working with tools,” the elder Peterson said. “I put a brush in his stocking one time and he threw it at me.”

    Despite operating separate businesses, both father and son have supported each other either by working on projects together or providing each other work.

    The younger Peterson said he will occasionally send his father lumber or siding to be painted and the elder Peterson said he would have his son replace clapboards, wood trim or rotting wood on buildings. Both father and son will also refer their clients to each other for their painting and carpentry needs.

    “It introduces me to a whole new clientele,” the younger Peterson said. “I’m in a different age group. We know different people.”

    The elder and younger Peterson last year worked together during the construction of the Clayton Yacht House on Riverside Drive.  The younger Peterson installed some of the doors, windows and flooring inside while the elder Peterson painted both the exterior and interior.

    “I basically just followed him around,” from room to room, the elder Peterson said. “We stayed on the same page.”

    When approaching a task together as two professionals or relying on each other’s services, the younger Peterson said planning and understanding each other’s processes are crucial for completing the task at hand.  Communication is also critical for getting the job done. 

    “We get along very, very well, but we have a common goal in mind: get the job done as best as we can,” the elder Peterson said.

    No business partnership is perfect, however, and the younger and elder Peterson occasionally butt heads and have to overcome each other’s gripes. 

    Both father and son want to be the boss during certain jobs, the elder Peterson said, but they learn to yield that authority and treat each other like clients.

    The elder Peterson, however, said he sometimes has to remind his son “to treat me like a client and not dad.” The younger Peterson said he occasionally has to deal with his father’s lack of patience, which the elder Peterson admitted was “not a virtue of mine.”

    “He wants it done yesterday,” the younger Peterson said.

    Many lessons about planning, work ethic, sacrifice, discipline and fiscal responsibility were passed down from father to son when the younger Peterson was growing up.

    The younger Peterson said he will have a child of his own soon, and he looks forward to his own father teaching his child the same lessons he learned.

    “He’ll definitely teach him responsibility,” the younger Peterson said. “He’ll definitely pass that on, which I’m excited for.”