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Business Owner Says Degree Helps Him Run Family Business

With the harsh reality of the business world being that most of them fail, for Ebon Glenn, it’s comforting to know there’s a team of people who will have his back. And for RDG Concessions, it’s all about family.

Glenn, 30, is the co-owner and vice president of RDG Concessions, LLC. – a family-owned specialty retail store that has six shops in San Francisco International Airport. The company was founded in 1999 by Glenn’s father.

“We have multiple travel stores. That’s pretty much the bread and butter of our business,” he said.

As with most things, there are pros and cons to working in a family-owned business.

“The pros are you get to know your family in a whole other arena and dynamic. I work with my father and I’m seeing him as a business man and it’s an interesting perspective,” Glenn said. “If something needs to be done, we’re a family so we’re going to stay late and work weekends to get it done. You’re around your family all the time.”

Glenn jokingly added some things serve as pros and cons.

“One of the cons is you’re around your family all the time,” he said. “You’re working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There’s never really a day off.”

Regardless of the negatives, Glenn said this is a dream job.

“You have the freedom to be creative, try new ideas, and see if they work,” he said. “When they work, it feels like a dream. When they don’t work, it feels like a nightmare because it’s all on your shoulders.”

Glenn, who earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix, said the skills he learned from his degree help him as a business owner.

“I acquired people skills and management skills,” he said. “For example, we have between 35 and 40 employees that we manage pretty much every day, and they all have different personalities, skill sets and strengths. And they all have different needs on different levels. I see their strengths and weaknesses and try to figure out the best approach.”


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Glenn has already achieved a significant amount of success as business owner and he offers the following advice to other budding entrepreneurs:

  • Network. “Get involved with a network group that’s interested in what you’re interested in. That’s free. Normally, those network groups have mixers that are after work hours. You don’t have to call in sick or lose your job because you’re chasing your passion.”
  • Get Legit. “After getting a great knowledge base, go to LegalZoom and get incorporated. It’s cheaper than going to an attorney.”
  • Get Business Cards Made. “Next time you go to a mixer, you will have a card that shows you are representing an actual company and that you have a license to do business in your particular passion. Once you have that, it’s honestly up to you how hard you want to work.”

Glenn is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Business Administration online. His dissertation is on airport retail businesses and how they can become profitable in the industry. Glenn noted that there aren’t many small business airport concessioners that have been as successful as RDG Concessions, at least not independently.

“At my MBA graduation, I looked over and I saw how few doctoral degrees were awarded,” Glenn said. “There were literally maybe only 11 doctoral recipients and I thought ‘wow, what does it take to achieve something like that?’ I started to do research on it and decided to go for it.”

As for future endeavors, Glenn said he’d like to develop a clothing line selling apparel with positive messages.

“The shirts will have positive messages on them. I want it to shout out positive messages to younger kids,” he said. “In five years, I see it becoming a culture: folks excited about it and encouraging each other.”

Glenn said he still plans on sticking with the family business, though.

“I don’t have any children now, but one day I’d like for my son or daughter to run this business. I just want to keep passing it down.”

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJ_tweets

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