Every Day is Father's Day
Two local father-and-son teams keep their business all in the family.
For most, Father’s Day is an annual celebration of everything patriarchal; a day of golfing, grilling, and appreciating the man of the house. But for someone like Matt Warman, a remodeling contractor for Warman Construction in Barrington, every day is Father’s Day.
Matt has worked with his father and company president, Glenn Warman, every day since deciding to join Warman Construction in 1993. After attending Northern Illinois University as an Accounting major, Matt changed his plans entirely, surprising even himself with the decision to join the family business.
“Growing up, it was the furthest thing from what I ever wanted to do,” said Matt. “But I tried it for a summer and really liked it, so I decided to just stay working for him and see where we could take the business.”
It was a decision that neither saw coming, and that left Glenn, who founded the company in 1978, “extremely apprehensive” at first. “I was in a business where it supported one family, and all of a sudden I thought we have to double this, because I now have two families to support,” said Glenn. “After bringing Matt on, I saw the potential. And that really opened the floodgates to me thinking we could do almost anything.”
As father and son soon enter their twentieth year as business partners, few problems seem to come between the two. “Our biggest hurdle is just a difference in opinion, but that’s nothing,” said Glenn. “As far as a relationship, if anything, we keep getting closer through working together.”
Both Warmans share not only identical ear-to-ear smiles, but a like-mindedness that has allowed for a close and trusting relationship to form. “I don’t ever have a single worry with Matt. We know how each other would do something,” said Glenn.
“We always know what needs to be taken care of, will be taken care of,” added Matt.
Bryan McGonigal, owner of McGonigal’s Pub on Cook Street, also knows what it’s like to have a “working relationship” with his father. McGonigal’s neighboring business, Park Avenue Wine Bar, is owned by Bryan’s father, Dennis McGonigal, and managed by his brother-in-law, Steve Berry.
Back in 2006, both McGonigal men found themselves at a turning point. Dennis McGonigal was moving back to Barrington and retiring from Medline, while son Bryan had left the same company to go off on his own in marketing, yet still had hopes for a future career in the restaurant business.
As all parties reconvened in Barrington (including Dennis’s daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Steve Berry, who had been living in California), the family began to talk about going into business together. “I’ve respected my dad as a businessman for pretty much my entire life, so I had no reservations about having him involved in this new venture,” said Bryan. “In fact, I was welcoming the opportunity.”
“It was something we could do together,” said Dennis. “My son-in-law and daughter had done a lot of wine-related things, and my son always liked the sports bar type of thing. So we decided to do both.”
Dennis said he initially wasn’t entirely interested in playing a large part in either business, other than getting both financially started, until Bryan’s sports bar dreams took on a new look. The idea was tossed around of changing the bar to an Irish pub, a plan that proved to be incredibly enticing to the family patriarch.
“I told them if we were going to be opening a pub, then I would be interested in helping,” said Dennis. “An Irish pub, if it’s done right, will be there for a long time.”
A short seven months later, an “authentic Irish pub” and an “elegant wine bar,” as Dennis described both restaurants, opened at Cook Street and Park Avenue.
For both McGonigal and Warman, the definition of “family” sometimes extends beyond the bloodline. “We tried to hire people who had the same goals as we did as owners,” said Dennis. “We’ve been unbelievably fortunate that a number of people who were with us from the beginning are still with us today.”
As far as the future for both local businesses, there seems to be a mutual hope to keep it all in the family. “I hope it does stay as some sort of family business. I don’t see this thing doubling or tripling in size, it will be something that we can always manage and keep our hands on,” said Glenn. “I will gladly and slowly pull myself away from this, and I think it would be a joy to work with someone like my grandson.”
For both Matt Warman and Bryan McGonigal, Sunday’s holiday may be just like another day at the office. Yet the bond between these fathers and sons is not to be taken for granted.
“I can honestly say that I’m really lucky that I had the opportunity to do this, to come work with him,” said Matt. “It’s amazing that we could be this close through business.”
“[My dad] has been there for me my whole life,” said Bryan. “Helping with this massive business venture only has proved what a great, supportive person he really is.”