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During the summer of 2011, Mark Piantedosi hired his teenage son Michael to work for his landscaping company. It was one of his best business and parenting moves so far.
Piantedosi, owner of Rudy’s Tree & Landscape and Commonwealth Landscape Lighting in Acton, Massachusetts, taught his now 21-year-old son everything about working at his landscaping and lighting design businesses. And Piantedosi learned a thing or two from Michael too, who is now in his senior year of college and planning to report to work at Commonwealth Landscape Lighting the day after he graduates this spring.
“He’s proud of the fact that he already has a job after graduation,” says Piantedosi.
Michael is majoring in communications and will be instrumental in putting the family-run businesses on the digital map. “Social media isn’t my strong suit and electronic communications aren’t my thing. But Michael is showing me how to keep the company current with digital public relations and I’m learning from him. He recently created a Facebook page for our lighting company,” says Piantedosi, adding that he’s looking forward to Michael building Commonwealth’s presence on social media channels.
Rudy’s Tree & Landscaping was founded by Piantedosi’s father, Rudy, in 1955. When growing up, Piantedosi worked at the business and eventually took it over. He started the new landscape lighting business in 2000, run under the umbrella of Rudy’s Tree & Landscape.
Rudy’s focuses on landscape maintenance, construction, and design for its 50 regular customers—as well as new clients. The company also provides snow plowing and snow removal services in the winter months. During the peak New England landscaping season, from April until December, Rudy’s employs up to eight full-time employees. In the winter the team goes down to about three with additional part-time help during snowstorms. Piantedosi does most of the work himself at Commonwealth Landscape Lighting, which specializes in creating and installing outdoor landscape lighting projects. When Michael is home from college, the father-and-son team spearhead the growing outdoor lighting firm.
Over the past two summers, Piantedosi took Michael with him on Commonwealth job sites so he could see the company’s potential for growth. “We align ourselves with designers and architects, and the work flows from there. You don’t need bobcats and heavy machinery. Michael saw the potential.”
Michael learned the ins and outs of the lighting business and could blend this knowledge with the hard work ethic that he gained working on lawn maintenance for Rudy’s since he was in high school.
Piantedosi says he’s passing along the values his father taught him: Treat clients right and be responsible.
“The number 1 lesson Michael learned was responsibility. He had to be someplace at a certain time. He also learned what it takes to work for and run a service company.”
From the time Michael was young, he would hear daily stories about his father’s work. But it wasn’t until he actually started working at Rudy’s that he truly understood what goes into successfully operating a service business. These life and business lessons will be with him no matter what his future holds, says Piantedosi.
Teaching your kids about hard work and customer service is something most parents would love to pass along to their children, right? But what if hiring your child not only solves your problem of staffing up your company—especially during the summer—but also helps your business financially and leaves your teenager with more money to spend and save?
Well, you’re in luck: putting your child on your small company’s payroll can offer you substantial tax breaks. Here’s the rundown on possible tax advantages that might be available to you and your child:
If you plan to put your kids on your payroll, make sure you do it right—there’s no need to encounter accounting or tax issues down the line.
Here are some tips:
One final piece of advice: Whether you’re considering hiring your child full-time, part-time, or just for summer help, it’s always a good idea to discuss with an accountant. This way you’ll have a better understanding of the specific tax breaks available to your business and your child. You can even do double-duty by discussing Roth IRA options and benefits—your child will thank you down the line.