ENTREPRENEUR IS HITTING A HOLE IN ONE FOR HIS MOM
By Azriella Jaffe
Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA)
Published: July 19, 1999
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - It's one of those gorgeous summer days, just made for a game of golf.
To say that Fredrick Taggart of Mount Joy would like to be on the golf course is the understatement of the century. Fred wanted to be a professional golfer since he was old enough to carry a club. And, he almost made it.
He was starting to turn pro, playing in tournaments and mastering his skills, with his sights on competing in the most competitive tournaments in the world, like the Masters and the U.S. Open.
He can't remember when he didn't dream of competing professionally, but he does remember when he gave up the dream - at least for now. It was on the day that his dad, Don Taggart, suddenly died.
Fredrick grew up in a family business. Twenty-five years ago Don started Fredrick and Emily's Woodworking, a furniture restoration business.
Emily is Fredrick's sister, and the business was named after the two of them. It was the classic family business, and with a son like Fredrick who grew up learning every aspect of the business, even accompanying his father on sales calls, you'd assume that Fredrick was the natural successor to the business.
But Don respected Fredrick's passionate dedication to professional golfing, so he never asked that of Fredrick.
Instead, when he was ready to slow down, he sold most of his equipment and just took on some part-time work from the steady source of referrals he had built up. And then, unexpectedly and before anyone was ready for it, Don died.
Fredrick was only 24 years old at the time, just out of college and making it in professional golf. He came home to find a disaster.
Because of some health problems, Don had been unable to get affordable life insurance as a self-employed professional. He left behind a financial mess, one that would surely put his wife and family into financial ruin and bankruptcy.
His wife, Fredrick's mom, Shirley, had never worked. Their mortgage was two grand a month. The warehouse carried tremendous debt. It was not a pretty sight.
Fredrick grew up overnight. With a torn heart, he gave up the professional sport he loved for something he loved even more - his mom.
He couldn't abandon her and leave her to cope with the loss of her husband and financial instability at the same time. He became an overnight entrepreneur.
Determined to grow the business to be able to support his mom, he literally rolled up his sleeves, took off his golf shirts and got to work. His sister Emily helped briefly, but mostly it was all up to him in the beginning.
That was five and a half years ago. Fredrick has grown the business, expanding from a one-man operation to eight employees.
Long ago they traded the 500-square-foot warehouse space for their current warehouse of 21,000 square feet. The Internet (http:/www.Fredrickandemilys.com) has radically changed their business.
Although they still do residential restoration work, they have become known as the premiere service providers of church restoration work in the area. They specialize in restoring church pews from a distance, hauling pews out of churches as far away as Ohio, trucking them back to the shop for restoration, and then returning them to the church looking brand spanking new.
He just began restoration work on the Zion Lutheran Church in Harrisburg. He expects the Internet to expand his business across the country.
Fredrick's mom is now gainfully employed as a full-time secretary for Mount Joy Wire Corp., so, theoretically, Fredrick could sell the business, make sure his mom is set up for life and return to the golf course.
It's tempting. But he shares candidly his dilemma: "I have obligations to my employees and their families who have joined me with great commitment and sacrifices. I can't just sell the business to anyone. My father started this business. How can I make sure that a new owner would take as good care of our customers as we do? My father's reputation is at stake."
And yet the clock ticks. In the world of professional golf, if you don't make it in your prime, you're left with trying to compete in the seniors tournaments.
He knows he doesn't have years to make this decision. There is no win/win at the moment.
To do one thing, he must give up the other. No matter how smart or creative he might be, he can't have it all.
And so for now, he chooses family and entrepreneurship over his sport. It isn't an easy decision, but he knows that it is the right one for him if he wants to be able to look at himself in the mirror.