Family Business Winter 2013
Coverage of the 2013 FBA Awards; tales of family business philanthropy; and a profile of a family business celebrating 125 years.
George has made sure the next generation knows that special recipe. ‘Families Should Stick Together’ Plymouth & Brockton joins an elite group of privately-held American businesses. Statistically, less than half of 1 percent of all businesses in the United States reach the 100-year mark. What is the Anzuoni family’s key to long-term business success? “You have to give credit to my father, George [Sr.],” George Jr. responds. “He was one of four boys and two [girls], and they migrated from Italy to America, back at the turn of the [20th] century. My father always felt that families should stick together – they should have a unity.” George Jr. and his siblings grew up around buses, in the 1930s, at the old Service Bus Line, a school-bus operation that George Sr. co-founded and co-owned prior to acquiring Plymouth & Brockton in 1948. But they weren’t allowed to hang around the bus yard as youngsters because, as George Jr. recalls, “we were a nuisance and they tried to get rid of us.” As they got older, their dad frowned on them going to the beach during the summer months. This was, after all, a seasonal business, and summertime was when the company made most of its money. So they were recruited to wash buses, answer phones and, once they got their driver’s licenses, to operate buses. After George Jr. served in the Air Force and graduated from college with a degree in industrial engineering, in the late ’40s and early ’50s, he was in need of a job. He didn’t have to look too long – or far. His father informed him, he recalls with a hearty laugh, that “you’re going down to Plymouth [& Brockton] to work.” Subsequently, George Jr.’s three brothers joined him and their dad at the company. “Whatever [my father] said to do, we just did it willingly,” he says. “My brothers and I would have our discussions, but we always enjoyed each other, which was very important.” Arguing it Out Over the Dinner Table Every successful, well-run, familyowned business should have a good, solid succession plan. While the Anzuonis don’t yet have one, they hope to – and sooner rather than later. “We’re working on it,” George Jr. says. “[We’re] getting close to something.” When Christopher is asked whether he and his siblings are ready to take over the company, he doesn’t miss a beat. “Sure we are,” he declares, while sitting next to his dad. “I think [my father] would be happy to see it happen. … From our perspective, we’d like to keep him hanging around as long as we can. He’s still got an awful lot of knowledge that always comes in handy. There’s constantly one thing or another that you’re faced with, and I think when you have all those years of experience, it helps give some gravity to your decisions.” Christopher and his siblings, Carol and Stephen, along with one of their cousins, are the only members of their generation who are involved with Plymouth & Brockton and the two other family-owned businesses. Together, the three businesses operate about 100 vehicles. The other two operations are: • Brush Hill Tours: Based in Randolph, it also operates Beantown Trolley in Boston. Brush Hill Tours, which was acquired by the Anzuonis in 1954, bills itself as “the only sightseeing motor coach tour operator licensed in the city of Boston.” • McGinn Bus Company: Based in Lynn, the 95-year-old company provides local transit services as well as luxury-motorcoach charter services to the North Shore. Christopher considers his biggest strength to be in operations, which includes scheduling and dispatching. It’s the area of the business in which he came up. Like his dad, he says, “I do a little bit of everything.” He sees himself as the heir to the family’s business-entrepreneur crown, which his father presently wears. Like Christopher, Carol – who focuses on marketing, strategic planning and administration, among other duties – also started working for the company when she was a teenager. And like her brother, she is not anxious to see her dad relinquish the company crown anytime soon. “I’m never ready [for that],” she says, adding with a big laugh, “because we’d like my father to stay around another hundred years.” A Century Strong The Plymouth & Brockton traces its origins to a discussion among 30 men in 1886 at the Samoset House in Plymouth. One of the men, Albert Gordon, traveled frequently to Plymouth, and felt the local facilities for travel were in need of improvement. His proposal was to build and equip a railway of two and a half miles with heavy-steel flat rails, paved track for the entire length, cars and a horse barn – all for $25,000. Articles of organization were drawn up that evening and, in 1888, a franchise was granted by the Plymouth board of selectmen to charter the Plymouth & Kingston Street Railway Company. That same year, the project had been expanded to a four-mile route that would run from Jabez Corner in Plymouth to the Rocky Nook section of Kingston. There were initial delays; because the company furnishing the motor cars was busy with other projects, it could not deliver them prior to the spring of 1889, as the founders had hoped. The first trial car ran on June 3, 1889, and, six days later, service got under way. More than 147,000 passengers were transported that summer. Today, the Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway remains a privately owned family business, operating an extensive commuter service to Boston. This includes frequent trips to and from Logan Airport, as well as transportation service from Plymouth to the Cape and to Boston. Additionally, Plymouth & Brockton operates the PAL and SAIL local transit services for Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority. The Plymouth & Brockton has more than 100 employees, and a fleet of modern motor coaches, transit vehicles and trolleys, with terminal facilities in Hyannis and South Station and company headquarters in Plymouth. This year, Plymouth & Brockton is celebrating its 125th anniversary, with plans to run, for the third season, a tourist-trolley service in Plymouth. Continued on page 10 9