Cookie business gets sweet surprises when employees bring parents to work

LinkedIn is sponsoring 'Bring in Your Parents' day on November 6. For one executive, inviting his own parents and the parents of his employees to the office everyday has proven to be invaluable in running a modern business.

Courtesy of Joseph's Lite Cookies
Joseph Semprevivo, second left, is surrounded by his family, including mom Josephine, left, wife Memory, and dad Larry, far left, at the company headquarters in Sebastian, Florida.

Cookie business owner Joseph Semprevivo will open the doors of his headquarters in Sebastian, Florida, and factory in Deming, New Mexico, to parents of employees on Thursday, not just because LinkedIn is promoting its second annual “Bring in Your Parents Day,” but because it’s been his year-round company policy for nearly a decade. 

“I think this LinkedIn Bring in Your Parents Day idea is brilliant,” Mr. Semprevivo, founder of Joseph’s Lite Cookies, said in a phone interview from his office in Florida. “I would need three lifetimes to learn what my mom and dad know.”

According to the LinkedIn website, “Bring in Your Parents Day” is a global outreach to parents being made by employees and companies.

“Parents of employees will get to see where their children work and what they do, and their children get a chance to say thank you for the countless ways they have been supported,” reads the page on the LinkedIn site where employees can sign up to participate. 

Semprevivo, a father of five, became a successful entrepreneur at age 12 with the help and support of his parents Larry and Josephine Semprevivo.

After his father suffered a crippling injury while working at a printing press in Philadelphia, and his parents’ efforts to start a restaurant failed, young Joseph began experimenting with making sugar-free, healthy cookies to sell.

“I remember being about age seven and sitting, big-eyed, at the kitchen table as my parents made all their business plans,” he said. “Then the tables turned. They lost their business. We were dirt poor and I was the one making plans. They listened and supported me.”

He and his parents have recently detailed how their family went from his mom skipping meals in order to feed her children, to a multi-million-dollar cookie business run by her son in the book, “Madness, Miracles and Millions,” released in 2014.

Because his parents were such an integral part in his company’s success, Semprevivo began encouraging his employees to bring their parents in for factory tours, free samples, and think tank sessions about 10 years ago.

His invitation earned him not only extra support from employees' families, but invaluable advice as well. 

“It surprised me,” he said. “I expected the result to be more support from home for employees. Instead I had all these knowledgeable people from different backgrounds coming into my factory with lots and lots and lots of advice. 

While some business owners might have found unsolicited advice to be the same as unwanted advice, Semprevivo already knew not to pooh-pooh what employees’ parents have to say about how he runs his business.

Last year this practice paid off for the cookie mogul after his sales director, Mike Folkerds, brought his parents, retired educators, to the office to see what he does as part of the company’s policy.

“They’re not in the cookie business, so at first I laughed when they were telling me all about how their son should have two computer monitors to increase his productivity,” Semprevivo recalled. “Still, I decided to invite them back to talk some more. That sparked a big discussion and his dad got us all talking about how we need to do our business in the cloud so everyone has access to information no matter where they are located.”

Semprevivo gets fired up as he recounts how these two former educators revolutionized his company’s entire sales, marketing, and inventory processes as the result of simply coming in for cookies and milk with their adult son.

“That was a year ago,” Semprevivo said. “It changed everything for my business. Parents are welcome here. Always have been. Always will be. To leave them out is to take a loss.”

If a business is offering to open its door to parents, then it may be a great day for a field trip for moms and dads. While many may have retired from our chosen careers, this is just another example of how parents never hang up their work tools.

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