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Ain’t Talkin Bout Love

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OOH …Here’s One Thing



by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company



Ain’t Talkin Bout Love


So I was listening to NPR this past weekend.  Yes I actually admitted that.  I know, I know, crazy organization with a leftist agenda.  With that said, have you ever listened to one of their segments called “The Moth”?  Quite a thing.  Essentially its open mic night for anyone who has the cajones to get up in front of a live audience and let ‘er rip.  Oh, but one more thing.  Speakers are selected from a random drawing and given the necessary theme on the spot.  Some of the stories I’ve heard over the years will make you spit your coffee all over the steering wheel.  Others will make you pull into the rest stop for a good cry.  Huh.  Turns out ordinary people are quite amazing.  If you haven’t heard of The Moth, have a look and a listen.


Wow, I digress.  Long apology for justifying my NPR habit.  So as I said, I flipped on NPR this weekend only to hear the announcer announcing Wolfgang Van Halen.  I thought geez, that last name sounds familiar.  And yes it turns out a minute later I come to learn that Wolfgang is Eddie’s son. My apologies to all the Van Halen aficionados out there that I did not know that.  And also for forgetting that Eddie was married to Valerie Bertinelli, Wolfgang’s mom.  Anyone guess where Eddie and Valerie met?  At a Van Halen concert in  Shreveport, LA in 1980.  I’d give a few bucks to the person that can dig up a picture of a billboard from back then promoting the concert.  

In any event, there is a lot more I would like to delve into on Eddie Van Halen but I could not do it justice the way Dave Yacullo or Phil Stimpson could and it would take too long so I better save it for another day.  Suffice it to say that he was a Dutch born G.O.A.T. in many ways.  The interview definitely got me thinking though, and I would recommend giving it a listen.  


Here is one snippet that I really liked:

“SIMON: So what was it like to be on tour at the age of 15?

VAN HALEN: It was fun (laughter). I didn’t have to go to 11th grade.”

I also liked the fact that he referred to it as the “family business”.  How many of us think of it as a business when we switch on our apple music?  Something tells me that Eddie was most definitely thinking of it as a business as he got on stage for the first time at the Whisky with his brother and David Lee.  The Dutch are no dummies, having built a trading and banking empire all while being owned by the Spanish.  My guess is Eddie was very much thinking about a family business and legacy when he brought Wolfgang in.  

Whew, what a wind up Johnsen.  What the hell.  Agreed.  For some reason this little segment on Van Halen got me thinking about how many family outdoor advertising businesses there were and still are out there across the U.S.:  Lamar, Reagan, Formetco, Regency (1.0 and 2.0), Van Wagner, Artkraft Strauss, Meadow, Norton, Wolverine, Barnes, Burkhart, Whiteway, Huntington, Morris Communications (Naegele), Tyler, Gaess, Outdoor West, SignAd, Allison Outdoor, Sunrise, Sun Outdoor, Steen Outdoor, Drury (both DDI and DSW), Saunders, Yesco, Eller, Keggereis, Lind, Franklin, Highway Displays, Grace Outdoor, Logan Communications…the list goes on and on and on.  Quite amazing when you think about how many families are in the business together.  

So not having the good fortune to have ever worked inside of a family owned business, but having the perspicacity to have witnessed hundreds of them, here is my take in a simple sentence or two.  They can be the greatest place to work, but also the worst.  The can hum like a corvette, but also barely start like a Yugo.  Do love and business mix?  It’s complicated.  And because I have not been conscripted to that life, it’s pretty fascinating.

Far be it from me to pontificate on what makes a family business successful.  There are libraries and PhD’s for that.  But here are a couple interesting articles on the subject:



And remember, no matter what, put the hatchet down and always show up for Thanksgiving dinner.  

Ain’t Talkin Bout Love:





Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC


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