Ferri Enterprises is a small, family operated corporation in and around Murrysville, Pennsylvania. The company was started in 1964 by Ed Ferri, with the purchasing of his first grocery store, Ferri’s. Through the years, Ed, in collaboration with his wife, his son, and his brothers purchased a restaurant, various strip malls, and opened (and closed) two additional grocery stores. After the death of Ed, and his wife Carole, various discrepancies occurred between family members with regard to how the business should be run. These situations exposed additional challenges that occur in small and/or family businesses. Throughout this essay, I will be analyzing the various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats represented through Ferri Enterprises.
A strength exhibited in Ferri Enterprises is the fact that they are a small, family-owned business. For those in the family members who work well together, this creates a great intimate working environment. The family can get closer to their employees because they work closer to them, and are not cooped up in an office giving out commands and dealing with solely corporate dealings. This close work with employees and with customers has, over time, created a supportive relationship with the community. Many individuals living in the area know the family directly and/or understand their ties to the community. Many people also look to support the company because they like to support small businesses, instead of large conglomerates. Their final more apparent strength is the fact that they have amassed a history over the years. Ed Ferri was one of the first individuals in the country to combine a meat shop, deli, bakery and grocery all into one. He traveled around the country in the 60s instructing other grocery owners how to connect all of these to be what now is the modern grocery store. This combined with the 60 years of service in the area creates a historical aura about the company.
The grocery, real estate, and restaurant industries all advance at a rapid pace, which can be overwhelming for small businesses. While they have been in business for such a long time, they’ve gotten stuck in the past and have difficulty updating their general “look,” as well as technologies within the various companies. Within certain businesses in the company, the quality of the product can be lacking. Their restaurant, The Lamplighter, only really create heavy, not-exactly-well-made food that is not streamlined. Customers don’t want their dish to look and be made completely differently from week to week. In keeping up with the times, certain sectors of the business, mostly the grocery store, have difficulties maintaining their social media presence. Each week they only post a single item on Facebook, their weekly sale ad (seen here). To continue to have a presence with younger generations, the organization need to create more engaging content for their followers, as well as expand into Twitter and Instagram. Their final apparent weakness is the fact that certain family members don’t exactly work well with each other, other employees, and customers. To be a well-oiled, well working organization, people have to work together to create something that the customer, renter, or general public would find appealing. When certain individuals have superiority complexes, and can’t be bothered by their fellow worker, or even a customer, it lends itself to creating bad, unappealing business.
Ferri Enterprise’s small size allows for the opportunity of growth for the business. While they’re not one of the smallest small businesses, there is still always room to grow and capitalize on other business opportunities. Their variation and breadth of businesses also keeps them open to building and expanding the kind of business that they do. The corporation is also tied to Murrysville area community. These ties allow for greater action within the community, such as working with other Murrysville based businesses and even potentially non-profits to do good for the area. Another opportunity stemming from their base in Murrysville is the fact that it is a newly booming area with a many individuals moving to this area. As long as they can keep up with the times, this is a great opportunity for gaining more customers and even potential renters.
The greatest threat that is approaching Ferri Enterprises, and more specifically Ferri’s Supermarket, is the fact that grocery chains are becoming much more commonplace than they were 60 years ago. Many people automatically just think to go to the Giant Eagles and the Walmarts, there isn’t a lot of thought or consideration anymore for independently owned grocery stores anymore. An additional threat that stems from within the company is the fact that disagreements and unfair treatment can happen within the family. This can not only start the downfall of the organization, but it can also create separations within the company. If people spend their time being angry or holding grudges against individuals, they aren’t focused on the foundation of the business: the customer. This can only lead to a crumbling of the organization. If members of the family get tired of the games that can be played, they can also leave the company, causing additional fraying.
Every company has their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Ferri Enterprise’s are neither new or very surprising for a small business, but they are still valuable to understand and to use to understand where the company sits and where they can improve and grow.