What’s your business, what makes it special?
Williamson Caterers is a third generation family business that provides full service event catering and food service management throughout the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware Valley region. Traditionally, the catering industry is fickle with a parade of new companies entering the market every year. Caterers come and go and we see a lot of high fliers that fizzle out after a few years. Yet, we’ve been in operation since 1943; that makes us unique in our expertise and reliability with clients.
What is the history or background of this business, why did you start it?
Everything began with my grandfather. At age 14, he started off in the restaurantindustry working as a bus boy for a high-end department store. He learned very quickly that the industry was something he could do on his own. With the savings he had in 1943, at age 18, my grandfather left his position at the department store restaurant to open his own business – Williamson Restaurant.
From the start, my grandfather differentiated his restaurant by offering private banquet services in addition to the public dining room, and eventually an off-premise catering operation– services that were rare of private facilities at the time.
I started working for my family at age 13 and full time in 1989. When I first began working full time in the catering company, a business statistic I had read really stuck with me: “85% of family owned businesses fail between the second and third generation”. I was determined to be the 15% that succeed and in 2011, I successfully purchased the catering business from my family.
Why did you join EO?
Growing up in a family owned business, I had limited professional experiences beyond working with my family. We have a saying at work that “there’s the right way, the wrong way and the Williamson Way”. Before joining EO, the “Williamson Way” was the only method I knew when it came to running a business. It does not mean that our way is right or wrong; it’s the only way we know after having been together at Williamson Caterers for so long.
EO was a great opportunity for me because it provided an environment to access a wide range of business and personal experiences that I could learn from and apply to Williamson Caterers and my daily life. We as a company have been successful with the “Williamson Way”, but EO has provided me with the resources to help me do it better.
What has been the greatest impact on your life since joining EO?
The most impactful thing EO has provided is simply having the opportunity to meet and get to know other business owners. Regardless of our respective industries at EO, we share the challenges and successes we experience, and there is a mutual appreciation of the effort and energy it takes to achieve milestones in our businesses and personal lives.
What would you tell others who are considering joining EO?
You have to make time for EO. You have to be willing to engage and be open in your Forum experience. Just belonging to EO isn’t enough. You have to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities and resources EO provides. EO has taught me how to be a better husband, father and leader. It has taught me the power of listening and communicating with my team better. EO isn’t just about business; it has benefited all aspects of my life.