Family Business Success Story – Flanagan Foodservice Inc.

 In Family Business Stories

Submitted by Rick BakerSpirited Leaders

Flanagan Foodservice Inc. is another local family business success story.

The members of our Centre For Family Business, CFFB, got to learn some of the amazing Flanagan story when Dan Flanagan, Flanagan’s President, spoke at our February breakfast event.

Here are some of the Flanagan-facts that caught my attention when Dan spoke:

Dan showed the most-amazing sales chart I have ever seen. The Flanagan family business has had 34 consecutive years of sales growth and profitability! From zero to almost $400,000,000 in 34 years! The Flanagan’s sales chart spoke loudly about growth…direction…consistency…planning and perseverance.

Dan talked about the early days when his father Joe left a secure position at a local grocery store called HiWay Market in 1977 and started his own business.  Joe worked at expanding his business within north Waterloo and Woolwich township…he added trucks and vans.

Flanagan’s moved its main operation to Kitchener in 1983. That’s where the Flanagan family business story gets really interesting. In order to finance the building of a 2,500 square foot freezer at its new location, the company sold shares to its employees and selected outside investors. The company sold blocks of 20 shares at $50 per share and the new shareholders could appoint a board member.

A progressive action…and, a successful one.

The shares have been re-valued every year. Each $1,000 invested in 1983 is worth over $37,000 today! In addition, the company has paid out regular annual dividends to its shareholders. [a spectacular ROI]

Perhaps it was that set of 1983 actions that solidified a bond between the Flanagan family and the people who work with them at their company? Perhaps, that set the stage for 3 decades of growth and profitability? I am sure the progressive 1983 actions were an important aspect of the Flanagan magic.

People serving other people.”

Our team is our greatest asset.”

That’s the way Dan described his family’s business.

And, it is clear the family doesn’t just talk that talk – it walks that walk.

Here is a summary of The Ingredients of Flanagan’s Success:

  • Think/Plan Ahead
  • Democratic Decision Making
  • Treat People Really Well
  • Employee Share Program/Profit-Sharing
  • Community and Industry Involvement/Support
  • Grow Sales
  • Own Your Property
  • Customize Your Software
  • Open Branches Close to Your Customers

Business success is all about people working together: thinking together, serving together, and succeeding together.

Flanagan Foodservice Inc. is a terrific example of how to achieve family-business success.

Thank you for sharing the Flanagan’s Family Business Success Story with us, Dan.

PS: Here is a picture of the Flanagan brothers. It strikes me that 4 brothers working together and achieving such family-business success must be quite rare.

The Flanagan brothers: Rick, Murray, Dan, & Jeff

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