All in the Family

Couples Partner in Marriage and Business

John Coon

May 6, 2013

Moving from California to Utah represented the first step in a major life changing decision for Alan and Rena Peacock.

Alan quit his comfortable job selling toys for Hasbro so that he and his wife could move to Springville and become small business owners. They took control of a struggling pizza place owned by the uncle of her sister-in-law. The couple added sub sandwiches to the menu and renamed it Zubs. They also entered into a 50/50 partnership with her brother, Ryan Moss.

The challenges of owning and operating their own business soon manifested in the months ahead.

Their store location was hidden from plain view from passing traffic, and there was little parking in front of the shop. The biggest challenge? Zubs represented the only source of income for the young couple.

 “I quit my job soon after we bought it, so I didn’t have an income except for this,” Alan Peacock says. “We only took home $4,000 in the first nine months. I had a 401(k) that we cashed in and had to pay the penalty. We lived on that. Then, the second year, we started to take in a bit more money. We didn’t own a home. We were just renting and squeaking by for the first couple of years.”

Eventually, their efforts paid off. The Peacocks were able to buy out Moss three years after opening Zubs. Their pizza and sub shop has remained a fixture in downtown Springville for the past 21 years, drawing customers from Logan to Las Vegas.

What the Peacocks faced underscores the joys and challenges faced by all business owners who run a business with their spouses, siblings or children. It can become a labor of love that requires striking a balance between family relationships and doing business.

Labor of Love

Making cupcakes is as much a full-time passion as a full-time job for Natalie Jensen and her husband, Kevin. They are the owners of So Cupcake, a cupcake bakery in Holladay. The Jensens were inspired to open up their own cupcake shop in 2008 after their daughter Celina met chef Emeril Lagasse through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Jensens saw how much their daughter loved cooking and how cerebral palsy denied her the opportunity to be a chef herself. So they decided to start a cupcake business for her.

At first, they just made cupcakes out of their house for family and friends. It soon snowballed into something much more. They found the right recipe through experimentation and found a building that was perfect to handle the explosion of orders that proved too much for their kitchen to handle.

The Jensens were blessed with good publicity from local media coverage and word-of-mouth from satisfied customers. Still, it didn’t mean running a cupcake shop full time was a piece of cake.

“We had never done it before,” Natalie Jensen says. “It was a crash course. We started with my husband and me. His mom would come down to help us. You don’t realize how much work it takes to pump out a bunch of cupcakes and keep everything going.”

Along the way, they received help from family in several ways. Natalie’s brother created and designed the So Cupcake website. Her father helped with accounting and taxes. Their help resulted in a business that is still thriving after five years.

“It’s amazing to see an idea you have work,” Jensen says. “You think, ‘Wow! Can we really do this?’ We put it all together and here we are five years later and it’s still going. We’re able to take care of our family on this. It’s good for Celina to be a part of something. As a whole family, we work on it every day.”

Finding Balance

When Sheryl Laukat founded Cannonball Musical Instruments with her husband, Tevis, in 1996, it started with the goal of making better saxophones. Both had a background in music. Sheryl played the saxophone and graduated from Weber State University in music education. Tevis was a professional musician who specialized in woodwind instruments.

They began with a single dealer and expanded to 10 dealers within the first year. Now, more than 350 dealers and distributors worldwide sell instruments created by Cannonball. Sheryl now is the company CEO and Tevis is the president.

Being a family-owned and operated business has actually made it easier for the Laukats to realize their original goals and be successful in the business world.

“We would buoy each other up,” Sheryl Laukat says. “We made good partners. The thing about a family business and a partnership of a married couple is you are with each other all day. There are a lot of differences of opinions, but in the end the money is mine and yours. There are no squabbles about who gets what because it belongs to both of you.”

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