From the left, chiropractors Mackenzie Goss, William Goss and Jack Goss practice together at Goss Chiropractic in Sterling Heights.

From the left, chiropractors Mackenzie Goss, William Goss and Jack Goss practice together at Goss Chiropractic in Sterling Heights.

Photo provided by Goss Chiropractic


Families make it work — successfully

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published June 5, 2019

 Roger Bourlier, left, Maria Bourlier and their nephew, Reece Hose, work together at Bourlier & Sons Inc. in Clinton Township.

Roger Bourlier, left, Maria Bourlier and their nephew, Reece Hose, work together at Bourlier & Sons Inc. in Clinton Township.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

 McLeod Carpet One Floor & Home owner Stan Fons, left, daughter Christine Andrews, son Danny Fons and Chris Geimer, a 30-year employee, take a break from their duties on the job at the Bloomfield Hills store May 28.

McLeod Carpet One Floor & Home owner Stan Fons, left, daughter Christine Andrews, son Danny Fons and Chris Geimer, a 30-year employee, take a break from their duties on the job at the Bloomfield Hills store May 28.

Photo by Donna Agusti

METRO DETROIT — Have you ever wondered how and why family members decide to work together to make a business thrive?

C & G Newspapers asked some folks who have been doing it successfully for years, as well as a family that has just branched out to the second generation.  

Before you decide to work with your family, “make sure you like them,” said Maria Bourlier, the general manager of Bourlier & Sons Inc. in Clinton Township, with a second location in Macomb Township. Their tagline is “Serving your backyard needs since 1948.” They carry barbecue grills, accessories and outdoor/lawn equipment.

Bourliers started out in Detroit and moved out to Clinton Township in 1978. They opened the Macomb Township store in 1991.

Two generations of the Bourlier family work side by side in the Clinton Township and Macomb Township stores. The third generation of the family has branched out to stores in Troy and Royal Oak.

Maria Bourlier said that family being, well, family may press boundaries a little further than they should, sometimes.

“They test you and say, ‘Maybe try it this way,’” she said. “We have our good and bad days. Every family, every business has that. We work well together.”

The youngest members of the family start out on cleaning duties or being the gopher, Bourlier said.

“You’re pretty much here all the time,” she said. “You pretty much learn by observing.”

They leave it up to each family member to decide if they want to join the business, she said. Some have ventured out into other things, Bourlier noted. “But they always come back,” she said.


Make a plan
Bill and Jennifer Griffin own Griffin’s Neighborhood Auto Clinic on Haggerty Road in Farmington Hills. Their services include diagnostics, oil changes, engine rebuilds, tires and towing.

“We opened in 2007. I decided to be more than just a technician and open my own shop on my terms. After working for many different shops and owners, I knew I could do it and build a name for myself,” Bill Griffin said via email.

“The best thing about working with family is everyone is vested into making the shop a better place. All of my children worked here through their junior high and high school days and appreciate and understand our company and what it means to give people good service.

“The worst thing about working with family is not having enough ‘me’ time,” he said. “We already spend more time at work than we do (with) our families. When it’s the opposite and all your time is spent with family, it’s hard to find the balance.”

For those considering working with their family members, Griffin said to do your homework and write a plan.

“Prove it to yourself on paper first before you proceed. We started it from doing work at my home prior. When it was time to move it from the house and make the house a home again, I found a building and we were instantly busy.

“We are a family company with family values. Making sure our customers make the right decisions and educate them on their vehicle’s needs is the most important thing to my wife, Jenn, and I.”

 

Finding a balance
Bourlier said that talk does tend to turn to work at family gatherings, prompting those not in the business to say, “Can’t we talk about something else?”

She added that those employees who are not family members like the fact that although they weren’t born into the family, they are treated like family.

McLeod Carpet One Floor & Home in Bloomfield Hills has been in business for 60 years.

Malcolm McLeod started the business in 1959.

“Dad (Stan Fons) went to work for him in ’76,” said Christine Andrews, Fons’ daughter.

Andrews’ mother, Mary Fons, and brother, Danny Fons, work together at McLeod’s.

“Dad bought the business in ’97, after working for ‘Mac’ (McLeod),” Andrews said.

“We grew up around the business,” Andrews said. “We saw how he (her dad) built the business and the sacrifices he made. We wanted to learn the ins and outs. We wanted to work with family. They are the best.

“You’re surrounded by people who care about you,” she said. “You collaborate and work toward common goals with people you love and trust.”

She said she can’t name any challenges that come with working with family.

“The good outweighs the bad.”

Andrews said that the employees are like their family too.

“Everyone wears many hats,” she added.

They do leave work at work to achieve a work/life balance.

“We work at work. Family time is family time. We do a good job of separating it.”  

She said she would tell anyone thinking about going into business with family members that it’s “highly rewarding. You get to accomplish things with people you love. It worked out for us.”


The second generation
Goss Chiropractic Clinics operates in Sterling Heights. William Goss founded the practice 31 years ago. His daughter, Mackenzie Goss, joined the practice a year and a half ago. His son, Jack Goss, joined the practice six months ago.

William Goss said the children were familiar with the office from a young age.

“They loved what we do here. I’m happy they decided to go that route — come back to Michigan to go into our practice,” he said.

William Goss said he would encourage anyone thinking about going into business with family to do so. He noted that in the chiropractic field, often more than one family member is a chiropractor, but “they don’t work in the same practice. I’m glad they are working in this practice.”

He added that he values their “loyalty, trust and the assurance that the job’s getting done right.”

“We all have an ownership mentality,” said Mackenzie Goss.

William Goss said that, while they “probably annoy other family members” when the three talk about work at family gatherings, the whole family is very involved in the practice.

“They are patients here. They appreciate our success.”

William Goss said they understand that a lot of people balk when they think of working with their family members.

“A lot of people can’t imagine that. For us, it’s not hard. The patients love it. When I retire, my legacy will continue.”

He said a patient who returned after a number of years was excited when she saw that his children had joined the practice.

“She said, ‘I’ll be able to come here forever.’”