The Family That Works Together Stays Together
The Robel Family Has The Formula
In today’s society, a family unit can be very complex. There can be loving relationships and confrontational relationships all thrown together in one package. One definition that may describe a family unit follows: “Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”
The Robel family certainly fits that description and it is remarkable when you consider that four of those family members have established a successful business together and after nine years – both the family business and the family relationships are running smoothly. We often read about family businesses that were established and passed down to other family members. Not the case for the Robels. They started from scratch.
In 2008, the Robel family purchased what is now called North Country Rental and Shuttle Service operating out of the Flanders and Patch Ford dealership in Lebanon. They also acquired the Budget Truck Rental Franchise. George and Wendy, and their two sons Andrew and Daniel, have taken the business to new heights and now have a total of 14 employees. How did all this come about? The patriarch of the family George, explains how the family went into action together.
“I had worked for Hertz-Penske as District Manager out of Springfield, MA. so I had experience in the rental field. When this business came open in Lebanon, I initiated the concept of buying the business. I thought it would be a great fit for us. My oldest son Dan had served as Operations Manager for Hertz-Penske as well. Our youngest son Andrew had just graduated from college so the timing worked out.”
Wendy Robel had established herself as an accomplished bookkeeper so all the pieces started to fall in place to run the often hectic transportation business. North Country was up and running under the direction of the Robel family. However, it was a business that required countless hours to have it operate smoothly. The four family members were forced together way beyond normal family functions.
“At first I was worried about the family dynamics and thought it would be a disaster, but it wasn’t,” said Wendy. “In the beginning we could always discuss business around the diner table or whenever we could. We had our family squabbles, of course, like any family, but we have always shared the same values and ideas. We enjoy being together but we discovered that we would have to sacrifice a lot of personal family time in order to keep the business going. After all, it is seven days a week all year long.”
The family also realized that they had to adopt a different work ethic. A fancy title carries no weight here. However, there is a new word not in the English dictionary that appears to cover the situation for all four. Multi-tasking! Andrew, who normally can be found dashing about with a cell phone held to each ear, appears to be the hub of a fast moving wheel.
“Basically we have to take on any task that arises,” Andrew stated. “That can range from answering the phones to washing a car or getting a truck ready for rental. I think at one time or another each one of us has done about every task that needed to be done. Being a family, we can carry that off better than most because of the dynamics.”
Dan only serves to put emphasis on that concept at North Country when asked to describe his duties.
“I guess you would have to call me the Operations Manager if searching for a title,” he noted with a grin. “The only thing I won’t do is bookkeeping! Mom is very good at that. For me personally, it is easy because we all get along so well. I really enjoy coming to work each day. Besides, you can get away with more when your Mom is your boss!”
The Robel family intends to forge ahead to fill transportation needs in the Upper Valley as the business now includes their own rental car company, a Budget Truck Rental franchise, a Luxury Town Car Service and a shuttle service for groups and weddings. A full plate, indeed.