Loading... Please wait...

Palace in the Press

 

Family Businesses article from
the September 2008 issue of MC InSight Magazine


FAMILY-OWNED

It’s not always easy to be a member of a family. And owning a business can be a challenge. So,
being a family member in a multigenerational family-owned business must be another trick altogether.

What makes a family business tick? How do family members divide up responsibilities? 

How do they all get along? How does the mantle of the business successfully pass from one generation to another?
These are some questions we had in mind when chatting with the principals of four local family-owned businesses.

 

             
 

Palace Florists, Inc.
1305 19th St., NW
Washington, DC
202-470-0507
www.palaceflorists.com

InSight: So, who were the founders and major players at Palace Florists?

Lee R. Herman (Executive VicePresident): The lineage goes back three generations. Barney Klateman founded the business in 1943. He worked for Blackistone Florist in the 30s, where he learned the trade and honed his craft working with floral arrangements in an artistic way. He decided to branch out on his own at the location of an ice-skating rink, The Ice Palace, which was located at Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street. The rink was upstairs, and Barney sold fresh flowers from a kiosk with a refrigerator. This is how the business got its name: Palace Florists. Barney’s youngest daughter, Donna, joined the family business in 1978 and her husband, Steve Dolgoff, came aboard when they got married in 1967. And then Donna and Steve’s two daughters, Beth and Andrea, both worked in the business. Beth started in 1992—and we were married in 1994— which is when I got in. Andrea worked with us from 1994 to 2005.

InSight: And how did the business expand?

founders.jpg

  Herman: Barney expanded the business in the 40s, to 10th and E Street, and
moved to Dupont Circle in 1943 to expand once
again. The shop had a dual
entrance on both 19th
Street and Connecticut
Avenue. In 1950, Barney
grew the business
by acquiring the florist at the
Statler Hotel. Business was booming. Business was booming. In the early 80s, with the pending arrival of the subway, Palace Florists relocated in 1985 and moved to the south end of 19th street, one block from Dupont Circle. This is our current location. For those familiar with Dupont Circle, our original shop was located where Krispy Kreme and Lawson’s is currently located.

InSight: That’s a lot of moving around. Any notable moments along the way?

Herman: Palace became the official florist for the Republican parties at the Statler Hotel, in 1952 and 1956 for President Eisenhower. That was an esteemed honor. Another political highlight: Palace created the flowers for President Kennedy’s inaugural party, given by Frank Sinatra. Recently, we created the flowers for the Papal visit to Washington, DC and the funeral flowers for Tony Snow and Tim Russert. We always have a flow of orders for
famous Washingtonians and visiting celebrities. Currently, we rank among the top 250 florists among approximately 22,000 Teleflora floral companies nationwide.
 
storefront-current.jpg



InSight: Has Palace met with
challenges?

Herman: In addition to facing the normal challenges that all small businesses face today, there’s the ever increasing competition from the 1-800 florists, supermarkets, and all of the additional floral and gift services online. It used to be that your only option for expressing your emotions was through sending flowers; now, there is so much to choose from. We have remained successful because our focus continues to be on high-quality fresh flowers, inspired floral design and exemplary customer service. This is why over three generations we have many loyal customers and are always earning the loyalty of new ones.

InSight: How does the family work together?

Herman: Our family works well together due to the fact that we all have mutual respect for each other. Everyone has his or her own strengths that have developed over the years. This helped us create job descriptions and match them accordingly to everyone’s individual talents. It works very well, like an intricately designed puzzle. It also works well because you not only get to meet new people with whom you work with, but we also get to spend our work day with family we love. We all remain sensitive to both our work and family matters. Open and honest communication is the key to a healthy family business.


 

Sign up for great floral deals!

View Cart Go To Checkout