Musical Bridges Around the World is extremely proud and excited to announce that Board Member Susan Franklin and her husband Aubra Franklin have been honored as the 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year! We are so thankful to such a successful Board of Directors as we prepare for our 17th season!
By: Colin Pope, Editor
Aubra and Susan Franklin started their entrepreneurial journey in 1995, and since then the Franklin brand based in San Antonio has been a market leader for senior housing.
Aubra Franklin in chairman and CEO of Franklin Companies, a business that takes on development, construction and management capabilities. He also oversees the Artisan brand of multifamily communities. The Franklins employs 450 individuals and improve the lives of about 5,000 residents.
What’s the best advice you can offer an aspiring entrepreneur? Susan: First, you must identify and live into your core values, which should be central to your enterprise. Aubra and I live by the values of integrity, transparency, and empowerment. They form the lens through which we evaluate our opportunities, and they are the cornerstone of our success.
Second, you must be constantly moving forward. Staying idle is not an option. In the face of uncertainty you cannot be stymied by indecision or doubt. In the early stages, your fledgling enterprise will derive its lifeblood from your passion and tenacity. Overcoming the challenges that arise will make you a stronger leader through the life of your company.
Third, surround yourself with people who thoroughly understand you.
What’s the secret to your company’s success? Susan: Our culture. Franklin Companies is a unique organization made up of over 400 employees, and we consider them all to be an extension of our family. We take interest in our employees’ professional development and personal success and provide an affirming environment where they can flourish. We are the standard bearers for the culture we want [to spread] across our company. We know it all starts at the top, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
In regard to your company’s culture, what are you most proud of? Aubra: I am particularly proud that “empowerment” is not simply a buzzword at Franklin Companies. Leadership and management approaches that rely on employees to simply “follow” are things of the past. Today’s leaders need to put their people first, translate the corporate vision and empower their people to achieve it by providing hte knowledge, skills, and the opportunity for performance. Involving others and encouraging them to take ownership instills a sense of pride that can unleash incredible outcomes.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business, and what did you learn from it? Aubra: Allowing functional divisions to operate as independent entities. As we grew, our primary divisions-development, construction and management-operated within individual silos leaving tremendous economies of scale untapped. When I realized the synergies available to us through a more integrated approach, I changed the corporate culture to be inclusive of all divisions by re-organizing our structure to capture all divisions under the umbrella of The Franklin Companies.
Tell us about an unexpected obstacle to your company’s growth and how you dealt with it. Aubra: Like many, the financial collapse of 2008 was certainly an unexpected obstacle for us. As others were retreating and the lending markets had shut down, we stood firm and set a new vision for senior living in San Antonio. Franklin Companies moved forward with its flagship project, Franklin Park Sonterra, which was completed as the market corrected. Sonterra is now 100% occupied and has paved the way for Franklin Park Alamo Heights, which is expected to open in 2015. I am very proud of the way we stayed focused and navigated those turbulent waters.