The end of a night shift is always my favorite time to drive home from Queens. At 6 a.m. – too early for NYC traffic to hit – it’s smooth sailing as the sunrise lights the road and the waters of the Sound that runs next to it. I like to reflect during those rides and think about Melrose Ballroom, our family’s new venue where I spent most of my summer. Melrose is a state-of-the-art venue built with the dream of modernizing and revolutionizing the concept of an event space. It can adapt to the needs of any event type – from concerts to weddings and athletic events – and transforms overnight to deliver a higher level of awe and impact.
My coursework at the Family Enterprise Center helped me shape a plan for learning, understanding and influencing this new business. Throughout the courses, the importance of getting your hands into each aspect of the business could not be overstated. As I began, I would observe and then assist a mentor in a specific process. From there, I would take responsibility for that role in full and be evaluated on my results and ability to own the process.
At Melrose, I started doing basic inventory work to understand how our liquor security systems function and learned about the inventory management controls and stocking procedures. This also allowed me to gain exposure to wait staff procedures, crossover between the bar and kitchen, and management supervision. My next stop was the kitchen, where I worked to understand line-flow, food expediting and quality/timing checks – and I learned critical lessons about a very important bottleneck when doing in-house catering for events.
Over the course of the summer I moved from the back to the front of the house to learn our point-of-sale (POS) systems, wait staff procedures, bar procedures and health code regulations. I learned how a service bar works, obtained bartender certification and had my first experiences serving customers. From a broader perspective, I was able to witness our family transition management to new leadership, which taught me a lot about managing across cultures, cultural changes and the unique position of a family member in that change.
The knowledge I gained in my family business coursework taught me the right questions to ask and helped me identify the type of activities to get involved with and the right people to learn from. In a young business with hundreds of performance elements, split-second dynamics and improvisational decision-making, things can often feel chaotic. My experience with the Family Enterprise Center equipped me with a set of razor-like tools that can be used to cut chaos into clear takeaways, business lessons and opportunities for skill development.
By Spyros Messados (BSBA ’15)
The Family Enterprise Center prepares next generation family business students for leadership and ownership in family firms.