The Graeter file Featured

11:44am EDT January 31, 2005
Born: 1964

Education: Accounting and finance degree; Miami University; law degree, University of Cincinnati.

First job: Grew up working in the family business. After law school, practiced law in downtown Cincinnati.

Career moves: Worked in the bakery. Worked on the maintenance crew. When he returned from practicing law, began to work in Graeter's financial area. In December 2003, co-purchased the company with his cousins and became executive vice president of Graeter's Inc. and president and CEO of Graeter's Franchising Corp.

"I do all the accounting and marketing. The three of us, we all do everything together, but we each have our own areas of expertise. I'm the accounting, finance, legal and marketing strategy person.

My cousin Bob is more of a plant operation and purchasing person. Chip is retail sales management person. Between the three of us, you've got the bases covered."

Resides: Cincinnati

What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?

You have to communicate with your partners. Unless you're a one-man shop, you need to work together. The same thing's true for your key employees.

The other lesson is that the difference between generations is the soft stuff -- what most founding fathers think is not important is important. It's as important as the hard stuff. You have to do both.

What's the greatest business challenge you've faced?

The transition. It's really easy to see how most businesses fail in that area. On the other hand, if you put your mind to it, if you're willing to trust the process and your partners, it's a trite cliché, but it'll work out.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

My great-grandmother, who I never met. Her first husband was killed. He left two teen-aged sons and one ice cream store, and they lived above it. That business and that tragedy grew into what Graeter's is today.

She grew that business -- a widow with two teen-aged sons.

She opened a second store two years after he died, and then another store. Then the Depression came along, and they opened 10 stores during the Depression. And then World War II came along, with rationing, and somehow they managed to get what they needed and stay in business.

She was responsible for taking that one store - anybody else would have sold it off, and that would have been it, but not her -- and building this enterprise.