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How Great Father-Son Businesses Work. Thoughts from Billy and Jacob

Jacob and Billy Gouty in suits

Son, Jacob, and Billy Gouty, owner of ServiceOne

“Be uncommon amongst uncommon men.”

ServiceOne is proud to be one of the 19% of small businesses in America that are owned by a family. We are even prouder to belong to the group of companies where fathers and sons work side by side.

In honor of Father’s Day, and because people sometimes ask us about what it’s like to work with each other, Jacob and I decided to share our thoughts about how our father-son business relationship works and respond to the most posed questions.

What’s the best thing about working with your son, Jacob? (Billy’s Perspective)

Watching him grow and learn every field - every part of the business - has been very rewarding. He has worked on installation crews, in the warehouse, and on the phones, interacting with customers.

I am proud to see him earn the respect of others, whether it be in the office with a coworker, with a customer, or with a vendor.

What’s the best thing about working with your Dad, Billy Gouty? (Jacob’s Perspective)

While he is my father, he is also my best friend and mentor. I have the opportunity to absorb all the knowledge and lessons he has and learn how a business is run from the ground up. We have a lot of fun working together.

What’s the hardest thing about working with your son, Jacob? (Billy’s perspective)

I put more pressure on him than I do on the other employees, holding him to a higher standard than everyone else.

Sometimes that puts a lot of pressure on him!

What’s the hardest thing about working with your dad? (Jacob’s perspective)

I would say there is no "hardest" thing about working with my father. Being his son, there is some added pressure that comes with the territory, but pressure creates diamonds and that is what I strive to be. He knows, no matter what happens, he can always count on me to get the job done.

What have you learned about your son that you might not have known if you didn’t work with him? (Billy’s perspective)

Jacob has always been personable and outgoing, but I didn’t realize how well those traits would translate in the Customer Service area. His great voice and friendly disposition – plus his overall knowledge of the business – are very appealing to customers.

I knew that he was good with a guitar, but I didn’t know how good he was on the telephone!

What have you learned about your dad that you might not have known if you didn’t work with him? (Jacob’s perspective)

I've always known my father was a hard worker. Working with him, I got to understand what the phrase "Take pride in your work" really meant. He truly goes throughout his day, whether it be in the office or on his personal time, showing great pride in the company he's built. I try to match/reciprocate his attitude every day.

What advice about fathers and sons working together would you give to others? (Billy’s perspective)

Have a healthy relationship with your son. “Healthy” is deeper, and sometimes harder, than it sounds.

  • Make sure you both understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Have good, honest, open communication. Transparency is key.
  • Always do what you say you’re going to do.
  • Make sure that your son knows he’s being held to a different standard than anyone else doing the job.
  • Leadership for both is key. Leadership is not a title. It’s an action that is received by those around you. When that action is performed well, leadership is passed down to those you are leading.
  • Make your son earn it!

What advice about fathers and sons working together would you give to others? (Jacob’s perspective)

The best advice I could give is to be transparent, take responsibility, and learn how to communicate. We all know that work can be stressful, as well as home/family life. The more communication, the easier the relationship. If you make a mistake, own it and figure out a solution. Use each other's knowledge and expertise to your advantage.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from working with your father/son? (Billy’s perspective)

I've learned not one lesson from Jacob, but several.  

One:  To not take myself so seriously. 

Two:  To be careful of what I put out on Social Media, print, etc. My views are not the same as everyone else's, and people will judge me and ServiceOne based on my personal views, which can be bad for our business. Jacob encouraged me to take some political posts down one day a few years ago, and his explanation was spot on. 

Three: To love unconditionally!

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from working with your father/son? (Jacob’s perspective)

The greatest lesson I've learned from my father is to be uncommon amongst uncommon men. Talent can get you far, but hard work and dedication to your craft are how you become the best. Put in the time, do the work, and the rest will follow.

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