AmeriBag, A Family Run Business

“What’s it like to have a family business?” has been a question often posed to me. My standard quip is “difficult, but rewarding,” but I think you deserve a more in depth retort here. These times of change may lead some folks to pursue new jobs or business ventures, and my guess is that some folks will consider starting their own business with family and/or friends. The dynamics of working closely with either family or friends tend to be very similar in nature, and it is something that should be considered very carefully before trying.

Around the Clock – Being in business as a family unit is difficult for many reasons, but top on my list is the fact that once started, it is a 24/7 adventure. It is not like a normal job in that when the workday is over, you can leave it all behind and head home to the bosom of love and comfort. The job tends to follow you home when working as a family. It can easily become the topic of discussion at the dinner table, on the way to do the family shopping, during the commercials of your favorite TV show… and chances are that it doesn’t end when your show resumes. I think you get the picture here. It can become consuming!

Timeouts Needed – Now don’t get me wrong here, it is always important to discuss issues that are vitally connected to one’s livelihood, but being inside the family circle and with each of you directly involved, it can interrupt the normal ebb and flow of daily life. The lesson here is to try to find ways to escape the focus of business… not that I have mastered this over the last 23 years of AmeriBag. I realize the importance of changing the focus, but my own zeal to grow and manage the company has at times overshadowed the need to “take some time out.” My bad!

Checkups Necessary – Margery and I have lived AmeriBag since its inception. We’ve dedicated our lives to caring for our employees and trying to always do right by them and for them, while making sure that we keep the company strong, vital and healthy. It is the center of our universe in so many ways; our personal dream. Trust me here, your business will become your center too!

Playing Nice – We admittedly can clash at times, as will most family members in any intimate family setting, perhaps with even more fervor than in the usual corporate setting? Sure! Can it go from the boardroom to the dinner table? Yep! But I think that in the end we are better for the temporary angst, because we ultimately realize that we’re sharing the same goals, and love the fact that we share a wonderful trust. We have come to respect the diversity (most of the time) and can feel good that out of our individual strengths, and sometimes opposing views, comes prudent and well positioned decisions.

I guess that all this prattle is my way of saying to you out there who may now be contemplating or are in a family-owned and operated business, that it is important to keep your focus on the “real core” of your business… your relationships with your partners. You have involved your family with good intentions in mind. Remain true to them with trust, faith and love… and try hard to take some of those precious “time outs” away from the fray, will ‘ya?

Cerf Products, Inc. Joins the AmeriBag Family

It has been a while since I have dipped my toes into the Blogging Pond. It was not for a lack of interest, I can assure you of this. We at AmeriBag have been very busy with an exciting new project which I can now announce to all our friends and fans… and the 3 of you out there who read my musings. Hah!

Just the other day we signed the final papers to buy the Cerf Brothers Bag Company of St. Louis, MO. It has been a rather hectic few months for us, as you might imagine. Today the world, and all of you, are being told of this wonderful news. We have a new addition to the AmeriBag group of companies, and the new name of the company is Cerf Products Inc.

This is a story akin to the Phoenix of mythology. Cerf Brothers, was started 95 years ago, and has been a family-owned concern for all this time. During the last year or so they fell on hard times, as did many good solid companies. They fought hard and valiantly, but it was a sad set of affairs for this reputable major supplier of terrific bags and gear for the hunting and outdoor markets. Long story short, we were called in by the family to buy the company and continue their tradition of producing and marketing high quality products for their many loyal customers.

In my world “synergy” is a very important consideration. I always look for those moments when similar attributes can mesh in a positive way to create an even better result. Cerf fits that criteria to a T! Their dogged and proven dedication to producing quality goods with value and function in mind matches AmeriBag’s philosophy. It’s a perfect match, and we are proud to now have them in our family!

In the weeks and months to follow we will be very busy integrating Cerf into our company. We will be hiring new people, growing our facility on AmeriBag Drive, and generally supporting the potential of merging these two great companies into one homogeneous entity. It is this kind of energy and excitement that makes my job great; it is this kind of growth that makes me proud that Margery and I started AmeriBag back in the day-and proves that hard work and dedication to a dream is worth the effort…

Bon Voyage 2009, Hello 2010

Well, another year is coming to an end and a new year will be starting soon. And what a year this has been! A real rollercoaster ride in every sense. Consider how this year started – the doubt, the worry and concerns about life and the economy. It was like driving down a long dark road with no headlights. It has been both an adventure and a learning process for us all.

At AmeriBag it has been a great opportunity to test our metal, to re-examine our mission and learn to better serve our customers and loyal audience. We did not sit about idly and wait for change; rather we accepted the challenge and pushed forward. Our history at AmeriBag has taught us that innovation and creativity are the weapons to battle adversity. It is how the Healthy Back Bag® came to being. The concept was a response to debilitating injury and a need to find a solution.

This new and improved Web site is testament another example of our efforts to make progress in a time when many wanted to stay with the status quo. is now easier to use, improved graphics and now there are more tools to learn about our products. We have made it easier for you to click through and view the pages without having to scroll up and down. We have added such features as our AmeriBlog page, the interactive features of Twitter and Facebook and a new section for clearance products that give you all an opportunity to save money by offering discontinued colors and styles.

Adversity can be a time of simply throwing in the towel and letting events unfold, or it can be a time of innovation and inspiration. It is about how we respond to challenges that sets us apart in business and life. I always look at tough problems as an opportunity to create good solutions. To challenge is to learn; to question is the impetus for creativity. This past year has given us all lessons to be learned, the lessons may have been hard at times, but how else do we learn to become better life?

We wish each and every one of you a safe, healthy and happy holiday. Let us all look forward to 2010 with hope, belief in ourselves and the knowledge that we can improve our lots in life through the power of positive acts.