I don’t know how many people know this about me, but when I was in college, I genuinely thought that one day I’d move home and run my parents’ business.
They owned Montgomery Associates, Inc., a remodeling company in Atlanta, GA. Growing up, it was all I knew. Mom & Dad didn’t have “real” jobs – they ran MAI from our home for over 25 years. Back in the early aughts, they had finally, it seemed, achieved success. They had a big fish of a client that was paying the bills, allowing my dad to do what he loved – small projects for homeowners that were problem-solving challenges at their best.
Dad’s ability to listen to a client, figure out what they wanted, and then give them that plus what they needed, is something that I pride myself on professionally. Mom organized everything from top to bottom, billing, sub-contractors, supplies, everything. And my brother and I – our entire childhoods were consumed with the business. We saw everything. Every phone call that came in at 2AM about a busted pipe in the ceiling, every argument about invoicing, every trip to bail a subcontractor out of jail (no joke).
The fact that MAI had finally achieved success was not something that came out of the blue for us. We’d seen how hard the struggle had been and when we went off to college, we went feeling secure and happy. After all, we were children of the late 80s & early 90s. Apple was booming, the internet was coming and I, for one, was well cosseted in my Ivy tower.
I had started BIPI in 2006, soon after graduating college, with an eye towards the future: I loved Nashville and thought, perhaps, that MAI might move to Tennessee (my dad’s family home is outside Tullahoma). Incorporating seemed a smart move – I was freelancing a good bit and the tax benefits, although initially small, would allow for a very easy transition when my family wanted it.
Well, for those of you keeping score at home, 2007 rolled around. Everything fell apart. No more housing industry meant no more work. And the big fish client? Well, they decided that they’d wait on pretty much every project MAI had going with them.
As it all ended, the surreality was accompanied by a nice little mid-twenties identity crisis for yours truly. Wasn’t I meant to take over my parents’ business? What good was my mediocre grasp on job-site spanish and the 25 years I’d spent as essentially an apprentice going to do for me now?
… Stay tuned next week for BIPI origins, part 2: Berry Interesting Productions, indeed