Credit Joseph Bradley

Firstrust photographer Joseph Bradley

Submitted by: Tim Abell, president and chief operating officer, Firstrust Bank


On June 4, I had the pleasure of attending the latest Firstrust Bank/GPCC Family First event, “When to Grow or Sell Your Business” at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC).

The educational program featured a panel discussion of some of the region’s most respected family business experts. Moderated by Philadelphia Inquirer Editor Mike Armstrong, the panel included Bill Mignucci, Jr, president of Di Bruno Brothers, Inc.; Mark Clemens, formerly of Clemens Family Markets and now a small business owner and consultant; Bert McKay, senior vice president and senior relationship manager of Firstrust Bank; and Peter Spirgel, managing shareholder of Flaster Greenberg, P.C.

With more than 50 family business owners and small business entrepreneurs, I listened as the panel gave fascinating case studies and valuable lessons learned from many years as a consultant or part of a family business.

Bill Mignucci told the story of how Di Bruno Brothers launched from a small Italian specialty store in Philadelphia’s Italian Market in 1939 to three stores and an e-commerce business which has earned recognition as the premier source for gourmet cheeses and hard-to-find food products in the Greater Philadelphia region. He attributed much of his family business’ success to hard work and always putting his customers first. Di Bruno Brothers was able to become culinary pioneers with revenues of $20 million.

Another item essential to growth in a family business is a clear business plan. My colleague, Bert McKay of Firstrust Bank, stressed the importance of having a succinct business plan. Both Bert and Peter Spirgel of Flaster Greenberg agreed that detailed financial reports are crucial in growing your business or transferring it to new ownership.

If a family business is to sell, as was the case with Clemens Family Markets, Mark Clemens discussed how a family can successfully choose the most appropriate option to fit the needs of the company. Mostly, Mark said, the sale of a business is decided from weighing all available options. For Clemens, competition and timing were two of the deciding factors that lead to the sale of 44 stores after more than 70 years in business.

At the conclusion of the program, I reflected upon what it means to be a part of a family business. Most importantly, like all family businesses, we trul