As a kid, I remember my grandfather telling me that back in the day, when small farms supported families in New Hampshire, parents had as many kids as possible for extra hands to tend to the land, animals, barn, and food supply. He grew up on a farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and when his daughter, my Mom, and my Dad had five sons of their own, he harkened back and chuckled at what might have been. But he and my Nana followed a career path to support their growing family that was a different arena altogether.
The family business foundation created was an athletic footwear manufacturer in the 1940s (generation one), and then a sports retail store in the 1970s (generation two), and now a family business enterprise diverse and focused on heritage, legacy and future impact. Yes, we now have a performance shoe brand, York Athletics Mfg., as the flagship generation three company, because it’s in our blood.
Yet, it’s the burgeoning portfolio approach to business that my partners and I learned from our parents that has led us here today, launching York IE.
You see, for me growing up in a family business (the sports retailer) meant that we all worked for what we got. In small business, you either make a profit or die. You’re only as good as your last week and the paycheck that came with it. It’s that simple. There is no outside funding, no hedge, no hires you can make to bail you out, no grand strategic exit. It’s all on you: in the good times and bad. It also meant that your employees were like family, and so were your committed customers. There was a heightened sensitivity to that friend who didn’t buy sports equipment from the store, or the staff that didn’t live up to their potential, or the Pop Warner or Little League that didn’t get their uniforms from us. Every slight stung for my parents and that edge trickled down to us boys.
It’s a reality that only someone who grows up in a family business or runs one understands. We all grew up working in some capacity for the family business and cut our teeth printing shirts, heat transferring hats, sharpening skates, working the parking lot or clerking at the retail desk. We learned that if we wanted others to support us, we needed to support them. It was why community was such a big part of it and remains constant to this day in all that we do. My brothers, colleagues and friends all determined in those hallowed grounds the things we liked and didn’t about business and charted a course for our own career journeys every single day. Worth noting, the venue of the old sports store is now a sports bar and grill paying homage to our roots – part of our burgeoning Manchester, NH community focused efforts – please visit Shopper’s Pub + Eatery at Indian Head.
We may not have been a farming family like some people assume because we’re from New Hampshire, but the importance of family values, integrity, work ethic, the grit and grind that those days my grandfather spoke of, course through our veins.
There are song lyrics from the super indie trio, Middle Brother and singer John McCauley (Deer Tick frontman), that resonate. The song is called, ‘Mom & Dad.’ “I was born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, but I don’t know why I never spoke it.” With one exception, I do know why, the Internet, as it now gives a company that operates like a family limitless reach and potential.
My partners, Joe and Adam, didn’t grow up on farms either, but they did grow up close and have built multi-decade long relationships based on trust, love, and teamwork. They watched intently as their folks built successful careers driven by a commitment to give their kids every advantage. And that means our definition of family broadens. If you’re loyal, if you work hard, if you make sacrifices, dream big and play for a common cause, you’re part of the York IE family now. We want to back you as an entrepreneur or invest with you as an angel. We welcome you in, but you have to rise up to the standards we expect… and stay there.
As we’re going to work hard to do everyday ourselves.
Use coupon code ‘family’ or ‘YorkIE’ for a deal on some kicks. Yes, we’ll be looking at your feet!