This CEO Brings His Dad to Work With Him Every Week. He Says It’s Made Him a Better Businessman
As a kid, Andrew Barrocas always dreamed that he’d work with his dad on the family business, a garment manufacturing company in New York City called Mona Slide Fasteners. Instead, he ended up bringing his dad, Joel Barrocas, to work with him.
Andrew is the CEO of MNS, a real estate development firm that currently has 12,000 units for rent and sale in New York City. Since 2021, each Thursday, the 43-year-old Andrew and his 77-year-old dad, Joel, have commuted together–driving to MNS’s headquarters in Brooklyn. They keep the radio off, and discuss all matters of business. Once they get to the office, Andrew goes about his day, taking client calls, managing meetings, and running the business. Joel joins him, offers his own suggestions, and typically heads home sometime in the afternoon. He takes an Uber.
Andrew isn’t just helping his dad stay active in retirement. He says Joel’s advice and counsel has been essential. “He’s basically been my coach through business my entire life,” Andrew says.
In addition to running Mona Slide Fasteners–the business named for his mother-in-law that he took over in 1971–Joel launched a separate manufacturing business in 1985, Menu Solutions. He sold the company, which made menu covers for restaurants just prior to the pandemic in 2020.
Joel also managed to grow his father-in-law’s business from two employees to a staff of 400 during his nearly five decades as steward. Eventually, Joel says he saw more and more apparel manufacturing move overseas, so he sold the business in 2020.
With nothing tethering him to entrepreneurship anymore, Joel started to get restless. But not for long. His son, Andrew–who by then had founded his own real estate business–proved to be his ticket back in the game.
Andrew, who has two siblings, was naturally inclined to business as a child, Joel says. At age 12, he ran a snow removal business, using an ATV with an attached snow plow to shovel driveways as quickly as possible–and eventually pulled in more than $1,000 a day. At 16, he made more than $50,000 one summer driving a Good Humor ice cream truck. “My father never said no to me about anything–whether I wanted season tickets to the Mets, to a Ferrari, to a nice house and a pool,” Andrew says. “His one rule was that I had to pay for it myself.” And so, he became a salesman.
Joel insisted that Andrew get work experience on his own before joining the family business–but once Andrew stepped into the world of real estate after college, he didn’t look back. When Andrew started his own business in 2004, Joel helped him train his employees, but stayed focused on his work at Mona Slide Fasteners and Menu Solutions. Once Joel retired, though, he was free to trade.
“My dad has coached me through everything my whole life,” Andrew says. “He’s never given me money for any of my businesses, but he’s given me his time–and that is much more valuable.”
Andrew and Joel compare their relationship to that of basketball legend Michael Jordan and his coach, Philip Jackson. “He challenges me to face the things that I don’t want to talk about,” Andrew says. “We talk through potential solutions and strategize.” Their Thursday drives into the office, he says, are a “mental workout,” which often result in him making a change to his business. It’s a practice that the two have shared since Andrew’s childhood: Even in his days driving the ice cream truck, Andrew found ways to get new customers (like giving out free dog treats) thanks to his dad’s coaching.
Joel had his own mentor growing up, too: His grandfather, a New York City taxi driver who was known for sharing New York trivia with riders–which would result in consistent tips. “He was the smartest man I ever met,” Joel says. “He taught me that there is always a better way to do something–you just have to think about it.”
Business coaching is a family tradition that has led the Barrocas family to success: To date, MNS has sold and leased over $10 billion in real estate, and the firm currently has over 20,000 condos being leased and built–double the amount it had pre-pandemic. And it’s a tradition that Joel hopes Andrew will continue by guiding his three daughters through whichever career path they choose. “That’s what’s important,” Joel says. “Family.”