Our Town – A Family Legacy
Michael Plummer, Jr never really wanted to follow in his entrepreneurial father’s footsteps. His father Michael Plummer, Sr had built Florida-based Our Town from scratch since 1972, but Junior had never really wanted anything to do with it.
Instead Junior decided to carve out his own life by joining the military as an army nurse, putting his life at risk on the front lines to help save the lives of others. But then a family emergency struck – Michael Plummer Senior suffered a major heart attack, and Junior was called home from his station in South Korea. But the setback made Junior realize one thing. The military had helped him grow up and find himself. It was time to start giving back, so he decided to return and help drive the family business.
Our Town is an interesting direct marketing business which essentially introduces people who move to a new neighborhood to the businesses within that community. It was not only a great way to help news residents integrate, but it helped boost local businesses too. Our Town was already a thriving new mover welcoming package company, but there was nothing Michael Plummer Senior wanted more than to hand the reins of the business to Junior.
It wasn’t like Junior was totally unfamiliar with the business – from the time he was five, Junior had been stuffing envelopes for his father. But for ten years, Junior had to grind it out and pay his dues. He started as a hybrid sales and IT executive, was later promoted to vice president of IT, and eventually took on another role as president in charge of franchising. Junior attended every trade show alongside his father and developed a firm understanding of his father’s vision for the company. These experiences allowed him to develop strong relationships with everyone in the company and it enabled him to become hard-wired to sell the business. As it was, he was being groomed to take over the business.
Our Town, His Way
That day would come sooner than expected.
Michael Plummer Senior passed away unexpectedly and left devastated Junior to inherit the business. Aside from coping with his loss, Plummer now had to decide if he should lead the company, or sell the business and start afresh. After struggling with the decision for some time, Plummer finally chose to stick it out – in his mind, the company was his father’s heart and soul, and he wanted to protect that legacy.
Faced with the immense responsibility and pressure of steering a multi-million dollar corporation with the lives of thousands of employees at stake, Plummer did, however, had to remodel the business. Michael Plummer Senior was a nonchalant, smooth-talking, old-school, “gut business” guy who created a business model that was inoperable without his leadership. Junior had to make tough decisions to “cut the fat”, and installed strategic policies to ensure the company can survive regardless of what happens.
In essence, Michael Plummer Junior ran Our Town his way.
Some family businesses don’t survive such a drastic transition. But Junior’s way worked, and the company today has grown to some 42 franchises around the country, the latest being in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As CEO of the company, Junior treats his franchisees the same way dad did – he takes them to baseball games and even lets them park their RV’s in his front yard to hang out with the Plummer family over the weekend.
And Junior carries on his father’s legacy that, in every way, would make Michael Plummer Senior very, very proud.
Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.