When Amber and Dave O’Brien opened their first location of The Goddard School back in 2005, Dave wasn’t quite ready to quit his day job. But then it took off, turning into a second location in 2008.
Their success with the early-education concept started generating a few questions at family dinners and before long, everyone was involved.
“My brother and his wife wanted to get involved and we helped them with location-finding and they opened their first school in October of 2016, so that was very exciting. That same year, my wife and I opened our third school and last year we opened our fourth school,” said Dave O’Brien. “Then my other brother and sister, after seeing our success, wanted to open their own school. We don’t have any more siblings, so we have everyone involved.”
Because of the Goddard School policy that each location needs an onsite owner, stamping out multiple locations just wasn’t allowed. So Amber owns the first school, Dave owns the second and Jodi Straub (one of the siblings) just opened her school this summer.
Straub is focused on the education program and interacting with parents at the new school. She said having that especially close bond has been helpful to get the new school off the ground.
“Whenever we have questions that we cannot answer, we have several of Dave’s schools to call on—those directors are just fabulous. They know the answers,” said Staub.
One of the key strengths of the group is a varied skill set. Dave O’Brien oversees the back-office functions, Amber O’Brien takes care of the day-to-day, Jodi is the face of the new school and her husband Bill, well he’s up for anything.
“I do whatever Jodi, David and Amber say. I am still employed and still managing sales while we do this so I’m weekend maintenance, gardening and marketing for sure,” said Bill Straub, modestly downplaying his marketing efforts.
But the best part of turning The Goddard School into the family business? Mom and dad are awfully proud.
“As you can imagine, for our parents it’s probably even a bigger deal. To see the three of us together and thriving,” said Dave O’Brien. “What a joy for them to see us all in the same business thriving and working together.”
Collectively, the family owns four locations, with two operating partners running a pair of schools in which the O’Brien’s have a small equity stake.