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Danielle Galian: How did each of you get started in the family business?
Colin Fein: I started when I was young by sweeping floors or wrapping pallets in the warehouse. That’s really where I got my start, but at the time I didn’t know I’d be [working] in the family business. It was always something I had a lot of pride in just to be able to do that stuff for my father. During college I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s what I’m going to go do after I graduate.
Hunter Fein: I also started in the warehouse during the summer. I always tell people I’ve been in the business for 29 years (I’m only 29!) because in a way you’re born into it.
DG: What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your jobs?
CF: For me, it’s seeing my family and spend time with them. A lot of my friends move away, and they don’t have the luxury of seeing their family all the time. And for me that’s what’s [important] – the family atmosphere.
HF: Having your family be a part of the family business is very rewarding. You feel more connected to it than just going to work for some large, black hole of a company where you’re just a number in the system.
DG: Seeing as this is a family business, how do you keep the two separate but equal?
CF: My father is the owner but during work hours, emails, etc., I don’t address him as Dad. I always address him as Frank. And that really helps me drive to everybody that this isn’t just dad-telling-son what to do.
HF: For me it’s kind of natural. Growing up, we’ve seen how our father ran the business and when he came home it kind of stopped there. It’s [separation] just something that’s innate to me. At the same time I see family business as that: a family business.
DG: What’s it like working with your sibling?
CF: It’s not that different working together than it is growing up together. As siblings, you’re looking out for one another; you’re always watching each other’s backs. One always has the others best interests in mind. And that really transcends into business.
HF: Growing up together in the same family kind of gives us the balance of knowing that sometimes you can get angry with other people; you can disagree. But at the same time it doesn’t mean it ruins your week or day. We learn how to communicate with each other. I think it’s an advantage.
DG: What qualities do you bring as the second generation that you think propel not only your business but also the industry forward?
CF: Having the ability to know what’s really going on with technology has been our strong suit. That’s what we’ve really been able to bring to the business that our father and others have not really been able to bring because they’re not part of our generation. And it’s just second nature to us. We can show people how to work smarter.
DG: In your opinion(s), what is the #1 quality that has made Associated Marketing so successful?
CF: Honesty and integrity. Even when there’s bad news, you have to be willing to give people that news, which is not always the easiest thing to do.
HF: Our approach as a rep compared to what others do. It’s more of a well- rounded approach.
DG: What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
CF: Baseball. That’s what I love to do, and summer time is my favorite time of year.
HF: I have a family with a three-year-old and a four-month-old so I spend time with my wife and kids. I went to school for audio engineering so when I can I like to record bands in my garage studio. I’m also a foodie so I like to go into the city with my cousin who’s a chef and try different foods.
DG: Which charities do you support?
CF: I’ve been growing my hair out for the last 18 months and will donate to Pantene.
DG: Who’s your mentor/role model?
CF: Professionally, John Whiteman. He’s been somebody I’ve been able to look up to and bounce things off, and he’s been very good at being able to guide me in a way that my father probably wouldn’t be able to just because of the nature of a father/son relationship. Personally, I really look up to my brother. He’s been able to do some things personally in his life that I very much respect and value, and in some ways he’s much older and much more mature than I am.
HF: Personally, I look up to our father. He’s instilled a lot of moral and ethical values. Professionally, Bruce Hahn and our aunt, Tonda Mullis. They took me under their wing and really gave me a lot of experiences on the higher end of business.
DG: What is your “top tip” for success in this industry?
CF: Be fearless. You can’t be scared to get involved.
HF: Just show up. Be a part of what’s going on and be active with it. And if you don’t show up then you’re the one who’s missing out. 2
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