A family affair

Multi-generational businesses are storied successes in NNY

The late Mort Backus, second from left, founder of the Mort Backus & Sons Inc. auto dealership, with his four sons, John, Patrick, Paul and Michael, in the 1980s.

By Kyle R. Hayes
NNY Business

For many well-established north country businesses, family means more than the occasional Sunday dinner and birthday party. For family businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation, the relationships built between mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers result in success, overcoming hurdles and optimism for the future.

In examining the innumerable amount of businesses run by families in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, it’s evident that a successful operation run by a single family can overcome just about anything: Recessions, depressions, fires and even the occasional bad idea. However, there’s one thing that all of these businesses have in common, and that’s their not-so-secret way of competing with big box retailers that they call their competition.

What’s the key to a successful business, according to these clans? Living and working among their clientele, knowing their customers by name and measuring up to the values and traditions instilled by the many generations that preceded them.

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Chocolatiers enjoy sweet success

Jennifer McConnell, left, and her mother, Susan Tanner, are co-owners of Covered in Chocolate! The Theresa specialty shop is relocating to Watertown's Franklin Building. Johnson Newspapers File Photo.

By Andrea C. Pedrick
NNY Business

Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you owning your own business is a twenty-four hour job. It’s not only about running the day-to-day business – it is about developing new ways of doing business to keep your products relevant and attractive to new customer bases and networking with others. It is about change management and managing the risks associated with change. Failed entrepreneurs will admit they were shy about ‘rocking the boat’ or trying something new when they already had a successful product.

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Berry Brothers Lumber rolls with the changes

Lee Berry of Berry Brothers Lumber in Adams holds scrap cardboard and wood in front of the animal bedding that it is recycled into. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

By Joleene DesRosiers
NNY Business

Berry Brothers Lumber in Adams has undergone some extreme transformations over the past 60 years that owners Gary and Lee Berry never could have anticipated. From overseas industry changes to a fire in 2008 that devastated the facilities, the company that started as a saw mill in 1947 has managed to keep its doors open, despite any changes. Berry Brothers Lumber still handles wood – but in a completely different way. [Read more…]

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In step with technology

Howard Orthotics fits Drum soldier with first-in-state BiOM

Roger R. Howard tightens Army Spc. Matthew Hayes' biometric foot as he recieves the first one of its kind in Upstate New York, at Dr. Howard's Watertown office. Spc. Hayes lost his leg in Northern Afghanistan, and the new battery operated prosthetic acts much like a regular foot. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

By Joleene Des Rosiers
NNY Business

It was a big day for 22-year-old Army Spc. Matthew Hayes. For the past several months, he has been working with Roger Howard of Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics, Watertown, to get fitted with what is known as a BiOM ankle and foot: the first bionic lower leg system created to replace lost muscle function normally and naturally.

A Fort Drum soldier originally from Michigan, Spc. Hayes lost his lower right leg while overseas.

“I was on a mission in Northern Afghanistan and I stepped on an anti-personnel mine, which pretty much shredded my right leg and did some damage to the left. They had to amputate it,” he said.

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The ‘Eagle’ Has Landed

North country celebrates jet service connecting to Chicago

Photo: Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III addresses a packed hangar on Nov. 17 at Jefferson County International Airport. American Eagle began jet service between Watertown and Chicago last month. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

By Nancy Madsen
NNY Business

American Eagle Airlines’ direct service from Jefferson County to Chicago gives hope for easy travel for business travelers and economic growth for the region.

American Eagle began flying 44-seat Embraer ERJ-140 aircraft between Watertown International Airport, Dexter, and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 17.

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