Our Family Business Celebrates 35years

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“More than 30% of all family-owned businesses survive into the second generation. Twelve percent will still be viable into the third generation, with 3% of all family businesses operating at the fourth-generation level and beyond.  http://www.fbagr.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=117&Itemid=75
Our family proudly celebrates El Burrito Mercado’s 35th anniversary this year, and we are at the second generation ownership, part of that 30%plus succession rate.  I was 8years old when El Burrito Mercado became part of our family, it’s hard to imagine what life would have been like without it.  My brother used to say ‘why can’t I play outside like a normal boy’, as he is stocked shelves in our then little 800sq foot store.  I don’t think my brother, sister, nor I realized how blessed we were.   We have many memorable trips to Chicago with my father in the van to get merchandise from Chicago. And I recall later as the business grew and truck deliveries arrived, we would catch the boxes at the end of the ramp, me on one end, and my brother on the other end, both carrying the tortillas boxes  into the cooler. We also share memories of ‘playing store’ in the basement at the store, and of course, complained about packing itchy corn husks and peppers that would make us sneeze!
As I think about our anniversary and all that my family and business has been through in the past 35years, it’s been an amazing journey! EBM is a part of our family and, while it has been the core of family disagreements, arguments, discussions, laughs, joys, triumphs, gains & losses, we love it and wouldn’t change it!

Senores Tomas y Maria Silva, 2014
The dynamics of working in a family business are ‘interesting”.  I still admire my parents for being able to stay married 43years and work together, I don’t know that I could work with my husband and be happily married? Both operating a business and maintaining a healthy relationship are by themselves beautiful, and difficult at times. Though, I really think it comes down to defining clear roles, and this is an area my family has struggled with the most, lots of ‘toe stepping’ and apologizing.   Another challenging dynamic in young family business’, we, the children, thought we knew more than my parents, and my parents thought there way was the only way.  It requires respect and great communication skills to combat this, and we have come a long way!  When I speak to other family business 2nd generation, I find that the most common shared challenge of family owned and operated business is exactly that, something that feels like a power struggle between parents & adult children.   In addition each family has its own unique challenges.  In the past few years especially I feel our family has really developed strong leaders and taken great strides in improving the flow of command as well as improved relationships & communication.

I have not personally met family owned business with this next issue, but I have heard that families have been destroyed and business’ fail because of it, greed or poor money management.   I feel so blessed that my siblings and I have never had conflict nor hurt feelings because of money or greed issues.   I like to think we inherited my parents values in that way, we are not driven by greed nor money.   And there is one thing my brother and sister always agree on, that my parents well being is always numero uno!  We always agree if it weren’t for there sacrifices and hard work, we would not have all these blessings.
In the last few years my parents are in a position in which they are able to semi retire and can mentally and physically ‘let go’ and entrust the business to us, their children, the business is like their 35yrs old baby.  Don’t get me wrong! We still meet as a family, I consult with my mother regularly especially on all cuisine and my father, well, he is still our ‘fix it’ and ‘run errands’ guy, I love having my parents around with us! They represent the essence of El Burrito, they are the experiencia mexicana.  Their values, their ethic, their spirit, and their relentlessness to never giving up!

My father and the youngest of the 9 grandchildren, the twins Cati & Ceci.
My father and the youngest of the 9 grandchildren, the twins Cati & Ceci.
My beautiful mother
My beautiful mother

While my parents are wanting to slow down, we (I) are at full force with energy, momentum, and in a great position to continue growing or expanding if we choose. However, to grow, we need financing security, and a qualified, reliable staff.  Which based on this survey, is concurrent with other business:
From the 2007 American Family Business Survey the top ten challenges for family owned businesses are:
Labor costs
Health care costs
Finding qualified employees
Foreign competition
Labor union demands
Domestic competition
Oil prices
Availability of credit from lenders
Estate taxes
And, this is when estate planners and specialized business consultants can assist with the planning.  A local family business consultant, Tom Hubler, thoughtfully lays out some steps and plans to assist with creating more fluid business process, family bonding, and future planning.  We hired Mr. Hubler years ago and the process was much more challenging than we anticipated, but I did learn a great deal and still reference some of the information provided to us.  The trainings left me wondering if the same experiences are true for other family business’?  I’m always curious what other challenges family business’ face and how do the resolve conflict?  The information provided to us was much more beneficial for my siblings and I versus as a family.  However, one of the best things have done to obtain a family advisor, it has been very insightful to bring an experienced retail professional with a caring heart to bring balance and neutrality to the family meetings.  I highly recommend this to other family business’ if you don’t have one yet.  http://www.hublerfamilybusiness.com/ManagementandLeadership/FormalizetheLoveinSuccessfulFamilyBusinessesPartOne.aspx
My parents received assistance from organizations such as MEDA (Metropolitan Economic Development Association) and SBA (Small Business Administration), but they didn’t receive guidance nor knowledge for succession and estate planning.  However, in more recent years they have been to connect with experts and are now ‘in the planning game’, things are moving along smoothly.   Succession beginning steps and future planning underway!
I absolutely love what I do, I love EBM and what it means to our community, I love what it means to Mexicanos and Latinos who are way up here (as north as you can be in the states) missing their homeland food; it’s a reward when a customer shares with us how excited they are to finally find a brand or ingredient from homeland and especially when they rave of how much they missed authentic Mexican food!  I love teaching people about EBM, about foods, and about our culture.  I am not chef, but I know a thing or two about Mexican food, markets, bakery, etc, marketing, education, and sharing my cultural and cuisine expertise is my true forte.
Operating a small family business is a lot of work, I wear many hats, I experience many exciting and many frustrating moments, and I love that each day is different!  And, besides being blessed with El Burrito Mercado, a mom that is an amazing cook, a hard working ‘diy’ and do it all father, I inherited their drive and passionate entrepreneurial spirit!   This is an exciting year for our family, another milestone anniversary to be celebrated and expansion and improvements to be realized!
Thank you all for the support, love, prayers, faith, and loyalty! Que viva LA EXPERIENCIA MEXICANA de El Burrito Mercado!

El Burrito Merc Logo


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