Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 34

small business matters

It's Never
Too Early for
Tracy Hoffmann, Hoffmann Publishing

A

ll the while life is humming along, we know the proverbial
curveball can be only seconds away. The idea that things can
change in a moment's notice is probably the biggest reason small
and large business owners need to be more attentive to their own plans
for business succession.

The process of planning for business succession and continuation
in the event of the death of a principal is never easy. Conversations and
thoughts often include emotional, financial and operational issues that
may be hard to discuss or share with family and business associates.
Who's going to run the company? How will it continue to be financed?
Is the business intelligence in place to achieve continued success? One
thing is certain, however; failure to plan ahead can be devastating for
any business, and perhaps be more impactful on small businesses with
life-changing financial implications.
While we witnessed several examples over the past few years with
Boscov's Department Stores, East Penn Manufacturing and Custom
Milling and Consulting, Inc., it was the recent passing of a small
business owner, Dave Zerbe of Dave Zerbe Studio of Photography,
Reading, that had us wondering about the business succession and
continuation plans for small businesses, especially those that are
family-owned and managed.
Dave Zerbe Studio of Photography was founded in 1977, primarily
as a wedding photography business. Sole proprietor, Dave Zerbe, had
just returned home after a two-year active duty stint in the U.S. Army
when he and his wife, Bonita, decided to open a photography studio
in their home in Reading, PA. Bonita worked weekdays as a nurse
with the Reading Health System while Dave worked sales, service
and scheduling, in addition to still being active with the U.S. Army
Reserves and holding other jobs. Throughout much of the '80s, Dave
and Bonita photographed over 200 weddings annually, shooting these
events personally.
By 1985, the volume had increased enough that Bonita decided
she needed to commit her full-time efforts to the business. Soon after,
Dave went back to full-time active military duty in 1988 with the
Public Affairs unit of the U.S. Army. Bonita would again carry much
of the load while Dave served his country. From 1980 through 2000,
the husband-wife team focused primarily on weddings and senior and
family portrait work. But the biggest game-changer for the studio was
the contract they received from the Reading School District in 1990
to shoot the photography for the high school yearbook. This contract
was expanded in 2009 to include photography for the entire district.
Bonita kept the studio running while Dave relocated to serve in
active-duty military positions in New Hampshire and Illinois between
1994 and 2008, in addition to the five tours of duty he performed in
Iraq, Bosnia and Guantanamo. All the while, the company was still
listed as a sole proprietorship with Dave Zerbe as the owner. Their
son, Chad, joined the company in 2000, leading the charge in digital
photography and an expanded in-house photo lab.
In 1988, they moved into their first official out-of-home studio, a
back room in the Deluca's Camera Center in Muhlenberg Township.
Then, in 1991, they bought Loring Studios, a long-time Berks portrait
studio. And, finally, in 2000, they fortuitously found their current

34 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SUMMER 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017

Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 1
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 2
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 3
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 4
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 5
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 6
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 7
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 8
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Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 21
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Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 33
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 34
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Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 64
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2017
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