By Kristen Wright
here aren’t as many family businesses as there used
to be. Some sell to outsiders. Others simply fail. The
PEI Journal examines two second-generation family
businesses and shares what their leaders are doing right.
“My father came here in 1960 with a suitcase and
$100 in his pocket,” said Paola Bravo, president and
second-generation leader of S. Bravo Systems Inc., a
Commerce, California-based manufacturer of secondary
Sergio Bravo came from Chile, where he’d inadvertently
studied some engineering by doing his friends’ homework,
his daughter said. Speaking no English when he arrived in
the U.S., the elder Bravo got a job stuf;ng doughnuts.
“He was a jelly ;ller,” Paola Bravo said.
After a while, her father landed a job in the service station
equipment industry. Just nine years stateside, Sergio Bravo
had learned enough English, trade skills and business contacts to start his own service station maintenance company.
York Serv Inc. serviced all the Shell and Texaco service
stations in Southern California, and its leader didn’t like how
the industry was affecting the environment.
“It really bothered him to see fuel go into the ground
every day under the dispensers,” Paola Bravo said.
Sergio Bravo expressed his environmental concerns to
others, but no one offered a solution.
“Nobody wanted to listen to this 5-foot- 7, mustachioed
man,” Paola Bravo said.
In 1985, Sergio Bravo invented and patented the Bravo
Box, the world’s ;rst under-dispenser secondary containment
for the petroleum industry. Two years later, he launched S.
Bravo Systems Inc.
Paola Bravo Sergio Bravo