Small-business owners describe how fathers influence their companies

vbridges@newsobserver.comJune 16, 2014 

Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked small-business owners how their fathers have influenced their businesses. This is what they said.

• “Apart from being an incredible boss, my father, Abdallah, has shown me and those who work with him how to conduct business fairly and ethically,” said Ray Malouf, chief operating officer for nüvonivo, an online retail kids’ and babies’ clothing outlet that also has a store in downtown Raleigh. “Being a part of a family business that has succeeded since 1966 certainly has its challenges and has evolved over time; however, our sole core value has never changed: ‘Surround yourself with good people and amazing things happen.’ Thanks, Dad!”

• “Four years ago, after my mother died, and at the ripe age of 90, my father started a whole new career as a group exercise instructor in Wilson. He specializes in light aerobics, chair workouts, and balance, strength and posture training. He also accepts speaking engagements on healthy living at any age, and he has become a bona fide gym rat,” said Teri Saylor, owner of Open Water Communications in Raleigh. “So when I worry that I’m getting too old to start a new venture or attempt something I’ve never tried before, all I have to do is think about my dad and remember if he can create new beginnings at 90, I ought to have enough courage to take a risk or two now and then.”

• “Without my father’s support, my business wouldn’t exist today,” said Robert Jordan Jr., designer and owner of Fortis Design, a Raleigh firm that develops unique products. “He has been a believer when things were at their toughest, helped with financing when no one else would, and has continued to offer support every day.”

• “My father taught me to believe that I could do whatever I wanted, and impressed upon his children to be strong leaders and to do so ethically and honestly. These traits have served me well in building Zebra Print Solutions,” said Charlotte DiLeonardo, owner of Zebra Print Solutions, a Morrisville company that provides print, direct mail and training materials fulfillment.

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