…With a ‘Grit’ for Business
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is a saying expressing the power of family influence. For three Legate families, both intentional formation and the osmosis of shared lives brought forth a new generation looking very familiar indeed.
Matthew Pinto and his wife, Maryanne, parents of six children, are members of the Philadelphia Chapter. Matt is president and founder of Ascension Press, a Catholic media and faith formation company specializing in small group studies for Catholic adults and teens. And two of their sons own and operate a young company—Home Court Advantage®. It is 15-year-old James who started it two years ago, to paint lines for basketball courts in local area.
James, a sophomore at Archmere Academy High School, thought it would be cool to paint court lines under the family’s basketball hoop. “I have five brothers and we love playing basketball,” he said. “I found a stencil kit and painted it myself.”
The results so impressed a neighbor that he asked James to do the same for his court. When other neighbors started calling, James thought of making it a business. He went to his dad who offered advice and helped to create a single business model as well as one for a franchise.
“Even if it never becomes a franchise, I explained it is smart to have standard operating procedures, and to run a single location with the efficiencies of a franchise,” Matt said. “The boys are keen on the idea of a national franchise and hope to present their ideas to the producers of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Talking about business was something he began with his sons when they were all as young as seven or eight. “I heard that if you introduce your kids more intimately to your work—where fathers are often at their best from 9-5—the respect they give you will increase,” Matt said.
Michael, the oldest, is a junior finance major at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida and is president and co-owner of Home Court Advantage®. “When James painted our family court, it made playing basketball at home more fun,” he said.
Requests for painted courts began to pour in. “James and my dad called to see if I could help,” Michael said. “I was a freshman at Ave at the time. I had interned before at my Dad’s company and was looking for another internship, but the chance to run our own company was too big an opportunity to pass up. Plus, I wanted to help my brother.”
Their younger brother Andrew was brought in as a manager and painter along with other friends as painters. Working with their uncle, who specialized in the tradeshow fabricating business, they built a “puzzle-like” stencil, that folds into small pieces and allows for quick assembly at the job site and reduced painting time from five to two hours.
“My dad’s example made the idea of running a business plausible,” James said. He explained that owning his own business has given him a lot of confidence, while he has also learned to juggle sports and academics, not “letting other important things suffer.”
One of those important things, according to Matt, is God. “I have talked to them about tithing and giving back to God,” he said. “Ultimately this is God’s money and resources to use for good.”
Penchant for planning
Wayne Kandas and his wife Kay, parents of four children, are members of the Phoenix, Arizona Chapter. Wayne is the managing director and certified financial planner of Kandas Financial Group, which is a practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a financial advisory company. Their son Christopher came on board while the firm was at MetLife and helped transition it to Ameriprise in June 2016. He graduated in 2015 with a business degree and minor in Catholic theology and immediately started working for the firm full time.
Wayne has always had an aptitude for finances. In grade school, he sold Grit magazine door to door in Plentywood, Montana, and saved $1,000 to help his parents buy a house.
Wayne became a baker from seventh grade through high school. “I made donuts before school so everyone smelled me coming down the hall,” he said. After high school, he attended DeVry University in Phoenix, Arizona for engineering and worked at a donut shop. Wayne had admired the tie pin of a customer who worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and struck up a conversation.
Later that day, Wayne got a call and was offered a job with the company. He worked there for 29 years and was the top producing financial planner for nine years straight and is number one in their Hall of Fame. In 1991, Wayne started the financial talk radio show Your Financial Plan and became known across the country.
When his oldest son Chris was a high school junior, he came to watch his dad at work one day. “I was the VP of my school’s debate club and a member of the National Forensics League,” Chris said. “As I sat in on my dad’s appointments, I noticed he presented tailored recommendations and defended investment decisions. It was a lot like speech and debate. I knew it was something that I could be good at as well as enjoy.”
The following summer, Chris came into the office every day. “He never asked for pay and did whatever I asked—all the grunt work,” Wayne said. “He was a natural.” Chris got married last year and now runs his dad’s practice. “I love being around him,” Wayne said. “I love the fact that my clients love him, too.”
Outside of work, Wayne leads music at his parish and Chris sings harmony with him. “We’re about more than money,” Wayne said. “I know Chris will carry the Catholic baton in a big way. Catholicism is a deep way of life for us.”
“I’m blessed beyond words to have so knowledgeable a mentor,” Chris said of his dad. As for work, Chris likens it to the parable of the talents. “We are entrusted with much and will be held accountable for how we exercise our dominion over others’ resources.”
At home in housing
William “Bill” Orosz and his wife, Jody, have three sons and are members of the Orlando, Florida Chapter. In 2007, Bill formed Hanover Capital Partners and its subsidiary, Hanover Land Company, as private real estate investment and development companies. His sons Stephen, Andrew, and Matthew work as vice presidents and also formed Hanover Family Builders.
“Currently, the family manages the development of 3,000 residential lots and have completed more than 2,500 homes over the past five years, with plans to continue that pace for years to come,” Bill explained. His own dad worked in real estate and they also occasionally worked together on fixer-uppers.
“It was always a great time with my dad, so housing became a family tradition,” Bill said. “By the time the boys were in college, I had built a significant home-building company (1,000+ homes per year) and they all worked summers doing manual labor and learning about the construction process.”
Andrew: “Although we all started down different paths after college — all with a tangential link to real estate — we were ultimately drawn to the family business. The three of us have very complementary skill sets that allow us to work well together. The positives are getting to work with people you trust and care for and who have your best interests at heart also.”
Steve: “Coming out of school with an accounting degree, I started in public accounting performing audits for all different industries. To me, real estate development and construction was an exciting field. But in general, buying land, completing site work and infrastructure improvements, monitoring home construction, and seeing a happy homeowner is a rewarding career.”
Matt: “Obviously the family experience in real estate made my career path more logical, but the real driver was the tangible and scalable ability to create value.”
Bill said he enjoys being “mentor-in-chief” and has complete confidence in his sons. “They run a top-notch company that is well respected,” he said. “It’s very rewarding for a dad to be able to work together with his children.”
PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG, who wrote the newly published book, Legatus @ 30, is an award-winning author and Catholic journalist, TV and radio commentator, and mother of 10.