Siblings Stick Together to Lead Local Businesses
Communication, mutual trust, and a familial work ethic are just a few of the qualities that characterize the following groups of siblings who double as business partners. These men and women have ventured into businesses alongside their brother or sister (sometimes both!)—and in so doing, have achieved great success.
By Rashad J. Gober and Julianne Hale
Above Photo by Med Dement
Michael Brody, Cindy Brody Sirota, & Louis Brody | Brody Jewelers
Michael Brody, Cindy Brody Sirota, and Louis Brody, owners of Brody Jewelers in Rossville, were all involved in their family’s business from an early age. Today, the family business still thrives in the skilled hands of this fourth generation. After working together for 30 years, the siblings continue to provide fair, honest service and high-quality merchandise, upholding the standards their family has put forth for over 70 years.
Though the three siblings are spread out in age, they say they remained close growing up. Youngest brother Louis says he’s thankful for the way his older siblings looked out for him, explaining that this protective, watchful eye continues in their business dealings today. When asked about the best thing about working together, the Brodys all agree: “knowing someone is there no matter what.”
Louis, Michael, and Cindy are equal partners at Brody Jewelers and divide their time between roles that suit them and the business best. However, all three take an active role in sales. “It’s sometimes rough and sometimes easy, but there’s never a dull moment,” says Louis.
Dwight & Brent Morgan | Integrity Automotive Group
There is a reason why Dwight and Brent Morgan, owners of Integrity Automotive Group, decided to take on the name “Integrity” rather than give their business the family name. Both brothers firmly exhort that their dealings are “not about them.”
Dwight and Brent journeyed down different career paths before going into the automotive business together, first with Saturn of Chattanooga and now with four current General Motors brands: Integriy Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and the new Integrity Chevrolet. According to the brothers, this move was not only great for personal and business growth, it was a serendipitous opportunity to serve and help others. And that opportunity, in itself, is what keeps them grounded and motivated to continue improving.
The Morgans grew up in a family that taught them to uphold faith-based moral standards and a strong work ethic. Though they’re three years apart, they’re almost like twins. Brent says working with his brother is “refreshing” because their similar thought processes allow them to encourage and hold one another accountable. Dwight is especially appreciative of the trust he shares with Brent, explaining that it allows them to serve more effectively: “I never have to worry about him, and he never has to worry about me.”
Clint & Clay Henley | Henley Brothers Construction
Identical twins Clint and Clay Henley got into the construction industry at a young age by renovating old houses with their father, and eventually went into business for themselves at the age of 19. Students at UTC by day and space renovators by night, these motivated siblings successfully expanded into Henley Brothers Construction.Clay is incredibly thankful for the solid personal and working relationship he has with his brother, stating, “It’s great to always have backup.” And after working together for over 35 years without a single business argument, it’s fair to say that their brotherly bond and shared experiences has made working together “easy.”Clint and Clay have an abiding trust in one another that is rooted in a strong work ethic and similar ways of thinking. “We don’t punch a clock or try to keep up with times, and we never have to worry about the other one not pulling his share of the load,” says Clint, who also describes his brother as his closest friend.
W.A. Bryan & Z. Cartter Patten | Patten and Patten, Inc.
The Patten family has a rich heritage in Chattanooga, especially in the business arena. Twin brothers Bryan and Cartter Patten continued that tradition of excellence in 1976, when they formed Patten and Patten, Inc., one of the area’s first investment advisory firms.The brothers’ decision to go into business together was based on their mutual desire to bring change to certain entrapments they had found in investment management. Imbued with a value system passed down through their family, Bryan and Cartter sought to be absolutely fair and honest with their clients. The trust factor has been a trademark for them over the years, as evidenced by their extremely low client turnover.The Pattens’ identical value systems and complementary strengths serve each other well in both their business and personal lives. Cartter describes his twin as “consistant and loyal, willing to take risks,” while Bryan describes Cartter as “the more thorough, in-depth thinker of the two.” Growing up and working together has instilled in them a familiarity and ease of communication that enables them to successfully tackle any unexpected challenges.
Britt & Tripp Brown | Brown Bros., Inc.
Britt and Tripp Brown of Brown Bros., Inc., have been informally doing what they do now since they were kids—the brothers grew up working with their dad and his construction company. After years of experience in development, the Browns joined forces in May of 1997 to start their own business.Britt is more involved with the buying and selling of equipment and the mechanics of things, while Tripp manages estimating and serves as project manager. Yet even with these defined roles and responsibilities, the two consult one another daily, and their shared passion for property development is clear.Though Britt and Tripp have sometimes had to pay their dues in bad deals and investments over the years, they say they have no regrets about starting the business. In fact, having to stick together to “weather the storms” has built their solidarity and trust in one another. When asked the best thing about working together, Tripp states, “I know he’ll be there, good or bad.”
Tom, Fred, Nick, & Rose Decosimo | Decosimo
In 1971, Joseph Decosimo, along with two partners, started the public accounting and business advisory firm Joseph Decosimo and Company in Chattanooga. Now, over 40 years later—years that included significant expansion, national recognition, and a simplified firm name—four of Decosimo’s 10 children are partners at Decosimo. Tom, Fred, Nick, and Rose have now been working together for over 30 years, but each traveled distinct paths to get where they are today. For example, Nick was originally planning to teach English and Rose was a registered nurse.
Though the Decosimos are partners, each sibling has a different interest in the firm. Rose is a partner in the audit department, Tom deals in corporate finance, Fred works with real estate and various businesses, and Nick is the managing partner. These clearly defined roles allow for limited crossover, but the Decosimos are thankful for the clear, efficient communication they can have with one another. On working with his family members, Nick says, “If you enjoy being with your siblings, working with them is a good way to be together in a constructive way.”
Jim & Skip Ireland | COS Business Products & Interiors
Ever since Jim and Skip Ireland took on their family’s business supply company, adaptability and progressiveness have been the name of the game. In fact, in 2002 the brothers changed the name of the third-generation company to “COS Business Products & Interiors” in order to grow and expand their service offerings and clientele.
The brothers explain that much of their ability to adapt over the years is grounded in their implicit trust, similar goals and aspirations, and shared family heritage. They were particularly influenced by their father, who owned the business before passing away in 1983. “Our father left us a legacy of strong work ethic and how to be good stewards,” Jim explains.
The Irelands say their ability to have casual, ongoing communication with one another has been crucial to their business relationship over the years. Skip and Jim have offices right next to each other, and though they don’t have much crossover in their roles, they do often come to each other to discuss ideas. “I just think we’ve been lucky. We’re friends as well as brothers,” says Skip.
Doug, Paul, & Mike Campbell | Campbell & Campbell
Paul, Doug, and Mike Campbell of the Campbell & Campbell law firm come from a very long line of lawyers. Yet even with no familial expectation, they each independently decided to become lawyers, practice together, and work with their father, the late Paul Campbell Jr. The firm itself has existed for over 100 years, with Doug and Mike working together for 35 years and Paul slightly less than that.
For the Campbells, one of the best things about working together is the fact that they have common goals and a knowledge of one another that could only be acquired by growing up together. The trio says this is truly beneficial when differences arise, because they have learned how to listen to each other’s opinions with thoughtful consideration. Each brother brings a different perspective and scope of practice to the table, allowing them to cover more ground as partners.
Overall, Doug summarizes the privilege of working with his siblings when he says, “It has been a deeply rewarding experience.”
Drs. Jim & Randy Hammon | Northgate Animal Hospital
When Jim’s younger brother Randy convinced him to become a veterinarian after a long hike, he spent many a night wondering if he had made the right decision. But after 30 years of working together at Northgate Animal Hospital, Jim can say without hesitation that he’s grateful for the push. “Life is too short to do something that you don’t absolutely love. I’m so glad Dr. Randy talked me into being a veterinarian and his partner.”
Today, Drs. Jim and Randy have the same philosophy on advancing veterinary science and improving the quality of care for their patients and their owners. Together, they emphatically seek to affect lives through their work. Both brothers describe each other as compassionate, with Dr. Randy tackling more of the financial side of things and Dr. Jim diving into research and analysis.
Dr. Randy describes working with his brother as, in a word, “satisfaction.” For him, it’s encouraging to have “someone you can share your goals and dreams with, look back retrospectively, and see someone who is going in the same direction.”
Hovig & Ani Yacoubian | Yacoubian Tailors
Hovig and Ani Yacoubian both grew up hanging around their family’s store, but the brother-sister team had no idea they would end up as business partners.
Ani pursued a business degree at Boston University, while Hovig studied biology at Tulane with no intention of joining the family tradition. Then fate stepped in. Working with his father after college, Hovig realized he really enjoyed the tailoring business. He decided to stay, and eight years later, Ani joined him with her degree in hand. Now the brother-sister team continues to work together under the watchful eyes of their parents.
The Yacoubians’ roles at the store are divided along gender lines—Ani handles the ladies’ section, and Hovig works on the men’s side. When faced with a business disagreement, the two usually defer to their parents. They both say they love being around their family day-in and day-out, and while working closely together can bring the occasional bout of cabin fever, the benefits—which include unmatched trust and the ability to speak openly —far outweigh the costs.
Marvin & Ronnie Berke | Berke, Berke & Berke
Growing up in Chattanooga, Marvin and Ronnie Berke always knew they would go into the family firm, Berke & Berke. Started by their father Harry in 1934, the firm today continues its 80-year tradition of offering superior legal services under the leadership of the experienced brother duo.
With eight years and one World War between them, Marvin and Ronnie say they’ve remained close throughout their lives. Both brothers attended law school at Vanderbilt and returned to Chattanooga to pursue their career at the family firm.
The brothers have now practiced law together for 40 years. In all of that time, they’ve never had a major disagreement—an accomplishment Marvin attributes to their “low-key personalities.” The brothers enjoy a successful relationship both professionally and personally, and even try to catch lunch together several times a week.
On a side note, Marvin’s son Andy Berke is the current Mayor of Chattanooga. Andy also worked at Berke, Berke & Berke before becoming Mayor.