November 16th, 2015

Demakes Family Creates a “Meaty” Success

Family business

By Elias Demakes

Many people ask me how I tolerate working with my father and two brothers every day, and I’d be lying if I told you that we don’t have our battles every now and then. The truth is, we all share a similar vision and goal to grow our business, to maintain our reputation for making the highest quality products in the market, and to continue to support the community around us, which has been our backyard for over 100 years.

Having grown up in the food business, my brothers and I know most of our employees—they’ve been with us for over 40 to 50 years. These are loyal, hard-working stewards of the company and a major reason we’re still in business today. Having worked outside the family business in corporate America, I received a first-hand lesson as to why some family run operations are hard to compete with.

Family businesses have a distinct advantage over big corporations. Businesses in corporate America are at the mercy of their shareholders, and the bottom line is about producing profits, while our family-run business puts a focus on our customers and their needs. To know that a company, especially a family-run company, in the food business, relies on quality and taste instead of on profits and margins is a powerful statement that resonates with the consumers.

In addition to working with my family, all four of us—my father, two brothers, and myself—had the rare opportunity to go to business school together. For five years, we would go to the Sawyer Business School in Boston after work to attain our Masters in Business Administration. After spending the better part of the day in the office together, we thought, “why not tack on a few more hours at school?” We had the chance to meet people of all different ages, backgrounds, and many students from around the world. This experience has helped us to evolve into a more flexible and dynamic operation. Through our MBA, we have grown our brands, introduced natural and organic deli meats into our product lines, and expanded our offerings to include products outside the meat and deli world, such as our coconut water. We continue to change every day; business school taught us that we are not just in the meat production business—we are in the food and beverage manufacturing business, the distribution business, the quality control and quality assurance business, the logistics business, etc. We adapt to our consumers’ interests, and being able to change with the food trends and give our customers what they want, is what I believe makes us special.

Having been thrust into this business at a young age has helped my brothers and I establish a solid working relationship with many of our employees. My father, the current CEO, has always preached to “lead by example,” which in his mind, means you need to get down and dirty. During our summers off from school, my brothers and I inherited some of the most coveted jobs in the plant: Whether it was working the trash room (a.k.a. Lord of the Flies), getting up early to work the production lines, sweeping the streets, and mowing the lawns, or during our winter vacations, shoveling all the trucks and buildings out of the snow, we did it all. I can’t say for sure, but I believe many of our employees understand that we have been working hard, right alongside them.

As a member of the fourth generation of this company, it is my goal to carry on the spirit of the family-run business with my brothers, and our fellow employees. Together, we will try to bring cleaner, less processed products to market, which will taste great and sell at a great value. Our family will continue to support the city of Lynn, which has supported us for over 100 years, and we embrace the responsibility of being a generous and ethical neighbor within this community. This intrinsic family commitment is the core of our involvement in numerous community events, such as sponsoring and supporting Girls, Inc., Kipp Academy and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. We have children, and we know the importance of nurturing young minds as an investment in our future, teaching them the meaning of teamwork, developing friendships and imparting values that will last a lifetime.

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