All Weather Architectural Aluminum Continues Legacy into the Third Generation

All Weather Architectural AluminumYears ago, Lance Porter, second generation owner of All Weather Architectural Aluminum, told his four children, “If you can find a way to get along, together you can build something that will be worth much more than if we split it today.”

Lucky for Anna, Sarah, Seamus and Tom, they listened to their dad.  After high school, the Porter kids ventured off to college and graduate school, earning degrees as varied as their personalities.  Upon graduation, all four returned to Vacaville to lend their expertise to the family business, started by their grandfather.  Anna majored in education at Boston College, is a natural leader (as the eldest usually is), and now serves as chairman of the board and the keeper of the most detailed product knowledge.  Second oldest Sarah earned her MBA and is the self-proclaimed communicator of the family, managing various technological projects for the business.  Seamus serves double duty at the company putting his engineering and law degrees to use by developing new products and assisting with litigation when it arises.  Accountant Tom, the baby of the family, manages the finances for All Weather’s related businesses.

Now as equal co-owners of All Weather, a manufacturer of aluminum windows and doors for commercial and high-end residential, the siblings have had a successful transition because they have made it a priority to appreciate each other’s differences and specialties and the relevant perspectives they are able to bring to any conversation.  They have realized that the things that drive them crazy are the very things that provide balance in the running of the business.

Three Generations of the Porter Family

The one thing they wish they had done differently?  As Sarah says, “Through FBC, I’ve learned that requiring the next generation to work elsewhere, three to five years in a related company, before coming to the family business brings valuable experience and expertise.  For the most part, my siblings and I did not do that and we have had to compensate.  Although my kids and nieces and nephews are still quite young, we are already re-thinking how that next transition will go.”

Perhaps it is the family’s willingness to accept their limitations that has kept them on the path of success.  After falling short of becoming a cohesive group and creating systems that didn’t leave one of them on the outskirts of a decision, they accepted an invitation to last year’s Generations Family Business Conference.  They did so with a desire to learn, grow in their leadership and become inspired together.  At the conference, much to their relief, many presenters affirmed their inkling – dynamics in a family business tend to be universal, no one has the answer to better governance, and the only way to make your way is to take guidance from those whom have gone before. 

As a result, the family joined FBC and have since attended several forums and Affinity Group meetings, stepping up to host the next Women’s event and, at the next Family Business Forum, they will share their story of hiring a non-family president while they settle into their leadership roles.  Addressing an issue they know many family business face, they understand that their potentially greatest contribution to the audience will be if they are willing to reveal some ‘skeletons’.  “As much as I enjoy hearing the history of a business, it’s when a speaker gets to the nitty gritty, the meaty details, that the real learning happens,” acknowledged Anna.

This year, father Lance attended Generations with the foursome.  “It was fascinating to be there with Dad.  When you hear from other G1s and G2s, you see your own situation differently.  And I think it was eye-opening for him to see what he could have done differently,” remarked Tom.  “Coming from us, we would have sounded like ungracious kids.  But coming from experts…,” added Sarah.

The kids still hang on every word Lance says, consulting with him on important matters and trying to glean as much insight from him as possible.  That reverence for Lance’s ‘old school’ ways while moving forward with ‘new fangled’ technology such as ERP implementation, e-commerce and energy efficient products has buoyed All Weather into a time of growth and profit.

Said Seamus, “I’m proud to be keeping the legacy of my father and grandfather alive.  I know Grandpa would be proud, and frankly surprised, that the four of us, especially my sisters, which wasn’t a possibility in his time, are working together to give homeowners peace of mind.”

Learn more about All Weather and their story of succession and collaboration at FBC’s Family Business Forum on April 17, 2018.

River City Bank is one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the Sacramento region.

With superb financials and tremendous growth over the last two years, River City Bank was recently recognized as one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the Sacramento region by the Sacramento Business Journal.  River City Bank has been a member of this illustrious list for many years, and their continued quest for excellence ensures they remain a contender for years to come.

The Business Of Making The Sky Spectacular: We Light Up The Night

Summertime in Sacramento means fireworks at the River Cats, celebrations, and of course, a brightly lit Fourth of July. We recently caught up with Nancy Gilfillan, daughter of the late Founder Robert Souza at Pyro Spectaculars , Inc. to learn more about how they make this all happen, and what it takes to remain at the top of the industry in this market.
Q . So tell us, have you always enjoyed playing with fire?

A. To be honest, by nature I’m a really big chicken! I never fantasized about playing with fire and from an early age I was taught to respect it. My father taught us the importance of keeping a safe distance and to always have the water bucket and a hose nearby.

Q. What was your very first job, and how did it go?

A. I wasn’t groomed to be in the business full time, and I have been a Registered Nurse for 41 years. I’m grateful to have my nursing career as to well as share some time in our family business working on special projects, taking on the role of providing support to my husband and family members. My father provided us with early exposure to the business and allowed us to do many tasks. In the late 1960’s early ‘70’s the business included consumer and display fireworks. I have memories of working on an assembly line putting together firework packets, answering phones, cleaning the office, building set pieces and most fun of all, working in firework stands.

Since then my role has shifted. For the past 20 years I’ve been responsible for coordination of crew for the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show in New York City and I work hand-in-hand with my brother, Gary Souza. We have 50 crew members from all over the country working so I handle the travel accommodations and day to day comfort needs for our crew during the two week set-up.  Even though I hold a license to handle firework materials, I spend most of my talents behind the scenes.

Q. What’s the biggest misconception people have about pyrotechnics?

A. People often say: “oh you only work one day out of the year!” but that’s absolutely not true. It’s a year round business; there is very little downtime. Our busiest seasons are the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve but we do provide fireworks for many celebrations throughout the state year-round. Some of our displays can be seen at events from high school homecoming shows, weddings, major and minor league baseball games and several Olympic Games. We are also active with the American Pyrotechnic Association and attend two major conferences each year.

Q. How long does it take to set up a show?

A. Our smallest show, one that will last for just five minutes like at a Homecoming, takes an afternoon to set up. Our Macy’s show, which goes for 30 minutes, takes 14 days to set up following a year of planning. This year the Macy’s Fourth of July show will be set up on five barges in the East River, and it’s life telecast so it has a little more pressure than usual.

Q.  Your Dad left a real legacy for you and your siblings; what core values did he lead with as a you learned from him?

A.  My father was able to teach us about integrity, community and what it means to have a good work ethic.  He grew his business through quality work, reputation, and by always exceeding expectations. The company grew exponentially over the years as a result, and he remained a true leader who always had his hands and heart on the business and kept his family and employees closely involved.

Q. You’ve been in business here for many years now; what do you think it is about your Family Business that keeps people coming back every year?

A. As owners, my two brothers and our spouses have shared family values that include respect, integrity and honesty. We have 60 employees and many operators and crew that work as independent contractors. We treat our employees like family and that culture that results in low turnover. As far as customers, we have a long history of safety and dedication to providing a good product. When we do this well, our customers return. I am proud to be a part of the team that makes people ooh, ah, and smile.

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Fiddyment Farms Pistachio Paste Wins 2017 Gold sofi™ Award

Fiddyment Farms Pistachio Paste has won the sofi Gold Award in the Nut Butter, Seed Butter category in the Specialty Food Association’s 2017 sofi™ Awards competition. A sofi is the top honor in the $127 billion specialty food industry. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and represents the best of the best from members of the Specialty Food Association.

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