My first year at USFSB was spent learning the business as best I could while still maintaining my law office full time.   In reality, I was just “babysitting” the business, since it was not my intention to change careers and give up my law office.    Also, early on, I was hopeful that my brother would recover and come back to USFSB.

Even when it became clear that my brother would not be coming back, I was still not prepared to make USFSB my new career.   I realized that I would need to keep USFSB going if, for no other reason, then to have the money to pay for my brother’s round the clock care and to provide for my father who also was dependant on the business to supplement his income.

I inherited the business in June of 1996 when my brother passed away.   My brother had no other family than my father and me and, by pre-arrangement, it was decided that it would be better if I inherited and operated the business.   Even then, I was not convinced that I was going to make a career out of operating USFSB and I, certainly, did not believe that I would stop practicing law.

As the year progressed, I become more and more interested in USFSB as I learned more about the business and I started to realize the full potential of USFSB for the future. It was then that I made the decision to slow down my law practice and make a real effort to find ways to grow USFSB.   I was slowly making a career change even though I did not fully recognize that fact at the time.

Over the next two years, I became more and more knowledgeable about USFSB’s benefit programs and insurance products and began to feel more comfortable and confident in my operation of USFSB.   I was able to enhance some of our benefit programs and USFSB started to experience real growth.

In 1998, I felt I needed someone I could completely rely on and asked my wife Annemarie to leave her long-standing position in public service to come to USFSB.   Soon after she came to work at USFSB, we both realized that there would be many adjustments and compromises that we would need to make if we were going to successfully live and work together without the need of a good divorce attorney.

I have always run my business as more of a dictatorship than as a democracy.  Even though I will ask for the opinions of others, for better or worse, I make most of the decisions based on what I believe is the best course of action.   This, of course, can and does create conflicts between Annemarie and me and has shown us that there are many perils and pitfalls in running a small family business.

Come back on Friday to hear Annemarie’s side of the story!