There are two sides to every family business. On one hand, it’s about dollars and cents, the bottom line, and making a living. But on the other hand, for many successful small businesses, it’s also about family. At the intersection of those two concerns is where Patrick Lucchese sits.
Lucchese is the founder and director of Urban Advisors, which helps family businesses navigate their initial public offering. Moving a company from private ownership to public ownership is always a big challenge, but adding in a family dynamic can make it even more complicated.
Patrick Lucchese and his group work hard to ensure that both sides of the equation — the family and the business — benefit and grow from the experience.
“We have become one of the most important advisory firms for IPO simply because of the relationships we build with our clients,” he said. “We have many successful cases that we’ve done, and we earn client trust because we show them that we are with them for the long run. Our relationship doesn’t end after the IPO. We keep close to the company. We help them to continue to achieve their goals as a publicly traded business.”
Valuing the human aspect of the business comes naturally to Lucchese because of how he started his career trajectory. While many teens take summer jobs as lifeguards, grocery store cashiers, or warehouse workers, Patrick Lucchese got a crash course in the ins and outs by joining his family’s firm.
“I started my life in a real estate company, which was our family business. I started to work very young, and my mother, she used to run the company. When I was 14 years old, I was already working beside her. After a while, I realized that I really liked the business aspect of it. I understood it. My father, he’s a medical doctor, a heart surgeon. He wanted me to be a doctor, but that wasn’t what I liked. So, I decided to move into business, and then I went to do my bachelor’s at George Washington University, a bachelor in business administration,” he said.
“During my college years, I had to take over the family business, which by that time was really more like a real estate investment company. I did well in that, and I was still learning a lot in my studies. But no matter what I did, getting an engineering degree, going to George Washington University to get a master’s degree, I kept coming back to the family business.”
Even as he took jobs with international corporations like Credit Suisse or regional construction firms like Rossi, Patrick Lucchese could never fully let go of his family’s organization. In many ways, he said, the business felt like part of the family. So then, he helped lead Rossi to its IPO.
Those thoughts formed the core of his vision for what would become Urban Advisors. He thought he could build a company that helped family-run firms achieve an IPO in a way that preserved everything they loved about their business.
“I always believe that the best deals are the ones where you can take care of everyone in the family and do good for the family business at the same time,” he said. “We like to be very, very close to the owners of the company and to the executives of the company so that we understand what is important to them and we understand how we can best advise them.”
“We like to do a lot of benchmarking because sometimes the owner of the company has never had an outside partner. For them, giving stock options is something completely new, and they feel a bit afraid of what can happen there. They don’t understand why you have to do it. And so we like to make that owner talk with other entrepreneurs who have had the same type of doubts, the same type of insecurity about putting together a stock option plan. And then we put it together for them to talk, to make them feel safer and more secure in moving forward. It helps owners to see how publicly traded stocks are something good for the company because then your employees become like owners. They think the way owners do, and they’re going to do their best to make the most profit possible.”
“When we work with a company, we become very close to them. We end up being trusted advisers for the company for years,” Lucchese added. “When they have problems, they call us, and we love to help them. Just like a family, our relationship doesn’t end after the IPO.”