“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos
Brothers & Sisters Navigate Entrepreneurship
By Rachel Studebaker
Photography by Jess Harris/Creative Revolver
They say that two is better than one, and that rings true for these five pairs of siblings turned business partners. From mutual childhood dreams to a surprising change of career, one way or another these professionals arrived at a shared vision with their brother or sister. Read on to learn the benefits of working with family and how these local businesses are finding success under the helm of sibling leadership.
The brothers behind Pizza Bros, twins Cal and Jackson Todd are bringing quality New York-style pizza to Chattanooga. Experience working in the food industry and a shared love for pizza paved their way for restaurant ownership and the duo agrees that “brotherhood can provide a lot of confidence when taking on new challenges.”
Cal and Jackson debuted Pizza Bros in Northshore in 2018 and have since added locations in Southside and East Ridge. The brothers describe the ambience of their pizza joints as “a laid-back neighborhood vibe where all types of people feel comfortable.” Eclectic décor and murals by local artists adorn the walls and mirror the creativity of the restaurant’s menu. Customers can choose from a dozen mouthwatering specialty pizzas – Cal recommends the Pesto Presto and Jackson the Yeti Pie – or craft a custom creation. Cal notes that Pizza Bros specializes in New York-style pizza “because it is simply the best style there is, even if Chicagoans don’t want to admit it.”
Being a twin certainly comes with its similarities – “Sometimes our staff can’t tell us apart” – but the brothers add that “we share as many differences as any two siblings might.” These differences came in handy when delegating roles; Cal puts his creative skills to use as a designer and chef, while Jackson handles the logistics of account management and expansion.
Though Cal and Jackson operate primarily behind the scenes of Pizza Bros, the touch of sibling ownership is present from their restaurant’s name to childhood photos.
“If you go to our Northshore location, you can find a picture on the wall of little Jack and myself emphatically devouring some frozen pizza slices, smiling bigger than any four-year-olds ever should. I love this photo because it proves we’ve always had a passion for this food,” shares Cal.
As Pizza Bros continues to thrive as a spot for casual dining and late-night bites, Cal and Jackson confirm that they are here to stay: “We love being a part of this food scene, and we plan to continue growing here!”
Cal (Left) and Jackson (Right) Todd
Nichols Fleet Rentals
Following in their father’s footsteps opened the door for Nick and David “Buzz” Nichols to start a new business endeavor. The brothers joined Nichols Fleet Equipment (NFE) – Buzz in 2007 and Nick in 2011 – a company providing field service and material handling solutions that their father, David Sr. Nichols, started in 1991. The family-run business upfits and sells trucks for use in construction and utilities.
“We have been surrounded by this industry our whole lives, so while learning the ins and outs of running it certainly took time, this world has long been familiar to us … As dad starts to look at slowing down, we’re ramping up and the timing is good for us to take on more,” shares Nick.
In 2022, Nick and Buzz founded Nichols Fleet Rentals as “essentially a rental arm of our primary business, although a separate entity,” says Buzz. “We had seen the opportunity for rental for a long time, and were finally presented with a good window to act on it, so we did.”
The brothers now run their fledgling rental company while remaining on staff with NFE, and when asked whether there are challenges, Nick laughs, “Every day!” Buzz adds, “There are always going to be some challenging days, but we are very cognizant of the importance of family and have never let the business overshadow our relationships.”
While Buzz manages plant operations and is an avid outdoorsman, and Nick focuses on administration and plays music in his free time, the brothers are “very much aligned on our vision for these companies and where we think they can go,” says Nick. “We don’t bump heads often, unless he gets his paws in my snack drawer,” jokes Buzz.
Considering the success that he and Nick have found at each other’s sides, Buzz concludes, “When we talk about family and family business, it’s easy to put the focus on just us – the Nichols. But to me, our family business is so much more than that. We have been blessed with a group of tremendous individuals who work hard each day to make our business what it is.”
David “Buzz” (Left) and Nick (Right) Nichols
Splash Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
Drs. Beth Webb and Jennifer Cole have always wanted to be dentists. As girls, the sisters observed their father’s work as an orthodontist and fell in love with the field.
“We got to grow up watching him build and grow his practice. I always admired his passion for what he did and the way he was able to maintain a healthy work-life balance,” recalls Jennifer. “I have a picture I drew in first grade for a ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ project that I keep at the office that is me as a dentist,” adds Beth.
Though their shared passion for dentistry was no secret, the sisters didn’t consider working together until dental school, when Beth decided to specialize in pediatric dentistry and Jennifer followed suit. The sisters began to daydream about a future as colleagues, and after Jennifer, younger by six years, completed her education, the pair decided to make it a reality. The sisters opened Splash Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Northshore, and today, operate a second location in Hixson.
“It was a little intimidating to start our own business as moms with three kids each and busy schedules, but we decided to leap into practice ownership and it has been a wonderful thing for us,” shares Beth. Jennifer agrees, adding “We really understand each other and know the challenges that can sometimes come with owning a business and being a mom at the same time, and we have each other to lean on when needed.”
The sisters make balancing work and family time a priority, though Beth laughs that since both her father and husband are orthodontists, “family dinner somehow ends up bringing up teeth at some point!” She jokingly adds, “We have another sister, Katie, who is a teacher that we’ve tried to rope into working with us, but no luck so far!”
When a member of Splash Smile’s thriving clientele arrives for their visit, they are met with a cheerful whale logo and an environment created to make even the smallest of patients comfortable while receiving quality dental care.
“We work to make dental experiences positive and happy for every child who comes in our door,” says Beth. “It is a really rewarding job, and it is especially fun to be doing it alongside my sister.”
Dr. Beth Webb (Left) and Dr. Jennifer Cole (Right)
For Ben and Chris Berry, starting a civil engineering firm together was an easy decision. The brothers grew up in proximity to the construction industry watching their father build homes, and teamwork has always come naturally.
“We have been working together since we were kids,” says Ben. “We would divide up chores that mom had for us so we could go play faster. We would coordinate our Christmas lists so we could get that ‘one big thing’ instead of smaller, separate gifts. During the summers we would work together mowing yards and doing landscape maintenance.”
After working at an engineering company in Chattanooga for nine years, Ben decided to create his own business. He shares, “When I talked to Chris about this, it didn’t take but a couple of seconds for him to say, ‘Count me in!’” Soon after, Berry Engineers was founded. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the firm specializes in private site development throughout the Southeast for projects ranging from retail and hotels to apartments and subdivisions.
Older by four years, Ben took the lead in a management role, while Chris focused on project details. “The age difference is no longer significant, but we have found that the roles we established early on have worked very well, so we have largely stayed the same. Although we have different roles, we are equal partners in the business,” says Ben. Chris adds, “We have very similar values and work ethics, but different personalities and strengths. It is great for business because we will come to the same conclusion or opinion about a situation, but we have different strengths in the day-to-day.”
Learning curves are part of any new business, but Chris and Ben discovered that working alongside a sibling introduces its own unique challenges – such as scheduling family vacations. Chris clarifies that when it comes to navigating a work-life balance, “working alongside family doesn’t make that balancing act any easier or harder, it just looks different.”
Reflecting on the past decade, Ben and Chris are grateful for Berry Engineer’s success and to work alongside family in the hometown they love.
“When running a business, I feel like it takes off a lot of burden when you have someone working with you that you trust completely,” says Ben. “I have that with my brother, and I would not want to do this without him.”
Ben (Left) and Chris (Right) Berry
Cain Development, LLC
As a former professional football player and criminal justice graduate, respectively, running a custom home building company was an unexpected career change for Josh and Jordan Cain. The brothers never guessed they’d be in business together, but today, Cain Development is an award-winning, multi-million-dollar company and has built countless homes across Chattanooga and beyond.
“We strive to build quality custom homes that surpass all expectations. Our business is built on a solid reputation, and we pride ourselves on the standards we have set. We work tirelessly to make new home dreams a reality!” shares Jordan.
Josh and Jordan agree that a childhood of brotherly competition and sportsmanship informs their approach to operating Cain Development. “We were both involved in many sports, which made us learn how to be team players,” says Jordan. Josh notes that their competitiveness “has helped us in the industry we are in [and] work as a team, not only with one another, but also with our entire group.”
When asked how they balance work and personal life, “We work in different area codes,” jokes Jordan. “But in all seriousness, Josh is more of the numbers guy while I spend more time on the jobs. Since we mainly work apart from each other, this allows us to enjoy when we get together for family gatherings.” Josh adds, “We agreed a long time ago that when we are having family time, we would not discuss work, so we can enjoy quality time.”
The brothers readily admit that they are not alike and take different approaches to their work in development. However, Jordan shares that these differences partnered with a shared focus on quality results is “how we have run such a successful company for so long, because we can divide responsibilities based on our strengths.” At the end of the day, as Josh says, “We always have each other’s backs.”
With each stunning new build, the Cain brothers continue to elevate Chattanooga’s real estate scene and supply residents with their dream home. Josh concludes, “We truly pride ourselves in building our clients’ dreams, and we could not do it without each other!”