A few weeks ago, you read about how my sisters and I decided to start a business, which makes it a family business. As it turns out, we aren’t the first Zitelmans to take on this challenge. A previous generation was devoted to running Bassins, an iconic DC restaurant, cafeteria, dining room, outdoor café, lounge and discotheque. (Seriously, it was all of those things!) Bassins opened in 1939 and was sold in 1976. Our grandparents, Harry and Beverly Zitelman, and their siblings ran the business, and our father, uncle and their cousins worked there. From what we’ve been told, it was quite a consuming aspect of the family culture and identity.

Given this history, my sisters and I were warned about the complications involved in operating a family business. So instead of making Soom Foods an ordinary family business, we are working hard to make Soom Foods a business of family.

What does “a business of family” even mean? It means that we strive to incorporate the ideals, morals and guidelines that our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have handed down to us.  More specifically, we believe (because we have been taught) that hard work, health, honesty, sustainability and philanthropy are essential for living a quality life, running a quality business and creating a quality world. And it is important to us that our family values permeate our entire supply chain.

For those of you who don’t know what a supply chain is, it refers to the different processes that occur in order to move a product from its origin to its point of sale. To be honest, I had never thought much about supply chains before starting a food business. Now I am amazed at how many moving pieces and people are required for a product to reach the consumer!

The Soom supply chain starts in Israel where the sesame seeds are hulled, roasted, pressed, bottled, labeled, packaged and shipped to this country. Once in US territory, the shipment needs to pass through customs. Upon approval, it is trucked to a warehouse for storage, repackaging and ultimately delivery to the retailer or the consumer if selling directly.

Believe it or not, we have condensed all of the above into working with just two other family-owned companies.

Our tehina manufacturer handles all of the processing and ensures that the product is delivered to our warehouse. The company describes itself as “a family tradition.” It was started by two brothers, Afif and Isa, with a dream to produce tehina, a staple of their family in Israel’s Galilee.  Now they are one of the largest manufacturers of tehina in the world, claiming that theirFamily Rules success is possible only because of the love, care and respect that accompany their commitment to excellence.

Our tehina is delivered into the trusted hands of Frank Brown Sr. who started Warehouse America in Philadelphia more than 30 years ago, and his son. Frank Brown Jr. grew up with the warehouse as his playground. Now, working together, they provide a high level of service and expertise when it comes to storage, repackaging and distribution.

It’s been comforting to work with other businesses that are successfully based on family values.  We want to incorporate the love, trust and respect that we’ve learned from our family into our business.  What else is part of the family business we are building?  Health, honesty, sustainability and philanthropy, just to name a few of our ingredients.

Or, just check out our family rules…