Leadership: Business

Generation of family ownership: Third. We lease, develop and manage medical office buildings and have developed over 330,000 feet of office space. Our business was started by my wife’s family in the early ’60s.

Company revenue: Under $100 million.

Number of employees: 12.

Years with the company: 30.

First job at this company: General manager. Before this I spent 15 years in the electronics industry. My father-in-law asked me to join the company, and I said I’d give it two years. It’s hard to believe it’s 30 years later.

At what age? 37.

Best thing about this job: Working with terrific people and developing the real estate so world-class healthcare services can be provided in our community.

One of our greatest successes: Devel­oping an integrated cancer center as a result of years of focus groups and physician meetings and discussing the deficiencies in our community on how care was being delivered. That led to the opportunity to work with Stanford Health Care so that our vision could become a reality.

Best advice I ever got: Deliver difficult news within the first two minutes of the conversation and build the conversation from there. Too often people who have difficult news talk for a few minutes before they get out what they actually want to say. Finally you hear, “Well, you probably wonder why I called you into my office.”

Quote from our company’s mission statement: Our goal is managing and developing first-class medical office buildings and influencing medical services that will meet the changing needs of our medical community.

On my wall: A framed picture, Lighthouses in the Storm. There’s a guy standing outside the lighthouse with his hands in his pockets looking calm as ever while the water is rising 15 feet around him. I model much of what I do after that picture, because if you reflect chaos as a leader, you can only imagine where everyone else will be.

Best thing about working in a family business: Having a son join the business. We discussed it and planned it for over a year and are enjoying the professional and personal rewards of the decision. Greg has been with us for seven years, and it’s been wonderful to watch his skills develop related to what’s needed in the business.

Worst thing about working in a family business: There’s always a balance between developing the business and managing family expectations related to distributions. It’s a lifetime journey. My wife’s grandmother saw the business developing, but for six years she wondered if she’d see any money. One also realizes that business decisions and discussions are hard and on occasion will impact personal relationships.

My advice for other family business leaders: Balance between family and business is essential. Get outside help when you start sensing an imbalance.

On a day off I like to … see friends and family members, particularly grandchildren, and play a few holes on the golf course.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: Cancer CAREpoint in San Jose, Calvary Church in Los Gatos and Rotary Club.
 
I realized I had emerged from my father-in-law’s shadow when … I didn’t feel I had to agree with him.

Future succession plans: I have three children, two in their 30s and one almost there. We’ve alluded to discussions but haven’t planned yet. In a pinch, the board would meet, the chairman would take over, and Greg would be responsible for day-to-day operations.

Words I live by: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, just know how to attract smart people to the room and listen to them.

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Second. My father and three brothers started the business, and my brother Britt is our biggest distributor.

About the company: We have over 7,700 locations in 30 states and three foreign countries. We’re a turnkey operation in convenience stores. The business model is a crossover between restaurants and these stores.

Number of employees: I have approximately 56 in my group. Under the Hunt Brothers brand, we have over 480 systemwide.

Years with the company: Years ago I worked for my uncle for 3½ years, and then I worked in financial services for 18 years before I returned. This time, I’ve been here 16 years.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: To be vocal, to be a leader and to speak up or go against everyone else if you believe in something. I have no problem with that. But I’ve got a building full of people who are passive, and they don’t always talk when you get them around a table, so I hired a consultant to work with our senior leaders and mid-management. We try to encourage healthy conflict.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: You can make a difference without making a big deal about it. She was very quiet and gracious and did a lot for people behind the scenes.

Best thing about this job: Watching people grow with the company and enjoy its success. We’re about four times larger than when I came, but not because of me.

One of our greatest successes: In 2001 the first-generation brothers were still selling pizza supplies, and we made the decision to rebrand the company and put our name on it. It took us four years, and since then we’ve been able to raise our profile so much that we’re the largest company in our industry.

Best advice I ever got: You don’t have to know everything. Partner with people and ask for help, because successful people want to help you.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: We have four sentences, but the one that seems to get the most traction is, “Be a blessing.” That can take a lot of forms.

On the wall: On a whiteboard across from me, I’ve written the entire history of our organization. I’ve also got three posters of our family’s successful Nashville businesses behind me.

Best thing about working in a family business: Continuing the family legacy and having the ability to make good long-term decisions that may not make as much sense short-term if you only focus on short-term results.

Worst thing about working in a family business: Working with family can be difficult. Also, the challenges that it brings to non-family members.

My advice for other family business leaders: Surround yourself with great people and get outside help.

On a day off I … hope I’m on the water. I have a boat named Blind Squirrel, and there are a lot of lakes around here.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: We have two pizza vans — not food trucks — that we take to community events. Last year we gave away pizzas at more than 250 pizza events. We also support organizations that are partial to children, including Best Buddies International, which pairs high school students with children who are challenged, and Rocketown, a faith-based youth outreach center in Nashville.
 
I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … I really didn’t. I came into the business late, when my father was having some health issues and my brother asked me to help. I had a concussion after a car accident and I never would have joined otherwise.

Future succession plans: I’ve been actively focused on them for five years. That’s the reason the consultant is here. I don’t have a successor yet. My daughter’s a lawyer and my son just recently transitioned into the business. My brother would have to step in if anything happened to me.

Words I live by: I’ve been blessed, so “Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while.” Also, “Play chess, not checkers.” The world is changing so fast that we need to get ahead of it.

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

 

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Fifth.

Company revenues: Approximately $30 million.

Number of employees: 140.

First job at this company: Founder, president, president of the board of directors, CEO and chief bottle washer. I broke off from the original McKissack & McKissack and started my own company with the same name in 1990 with $1,000, an OK business plan, and my family’s history.

At what age? 31.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: To continue to work hard and be good to people. He was against getting handouts and thought you should be able to get work on your own merit. My father and our earlier ancestors grew up in a different time. He got projects that included black colleges and work from larger contractors. We were also more segregated then.

However, you can’t always get work based on merit, no matter how good you are. Often, contracts are awarded to companies that have long-term relationships and connections with decision makers. If you are not “members of the club,” it’s harder to get the work. Many minority- and women-owned companies are not given the same consideration. People are hesitant to change. At McKissack, we’ve worked hard to overcome these obstacles to build a great portfolio of work. If your company doesn’t have quality projects under its belt, you won’t get chosen.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: If you can believe it you can achieve it — and, by the way, being a woman is a plus.

Best thing about this job: The people part, which is in line with my purpose in life: enhancing the lives of others while building a business.

Our greatest success: Winning major projects that are significant to the country, including managing the construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and designing an addition to the George H.W. Bush Library in College Station, Texas.

Best advice I ever got: Hire people for where I want to be, and not for where I am.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: McKissack & McKissack, through agility, innovation and ­collaboration, delivers unique solutions to our clients, positively impacting the built environment and our communities.

On my wall: A photo of my grandfather outside one of his buildings. It reminds me of his strength, what our family has been through, and the discrimination he faced in the early 1900s. If he can overcome that, then what I face today is not that bad.

One of our greatest accomplishments: Working on the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It represents the history of America, not just African-Americans. People love every aspect of it.

Best thing about working in a family business: Getting to spend quality time with your family and really knowing the person you’re working with.

Advice for other family business leaders: Be proud of your legacy and be true to those who came before you, but also be confident in your ability to make decisions without feeling burdened by what others might think.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: My family is big on supporting education, such as the Living Classrooms Foundation.

Book I think every family business leader should read: The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … I achieved the salary I was making five years after starting the company.

Future succession plans: I have a great staff. I’m not sure my daughter wants to be me; she’s a teenager.

Words I live by: I walk by faith and not by sight. 

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Third.

Company revenue: $220 million in 2017 from our three companies: Rihm Kenworth, Rihm Leasing and RMC Truck Parts. Rihm Kenworth is the second-oldest Kenworth truck dealer in the world. RMC Truck Parts ships truck parts globally and delivers them in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Number of employees: 350, including 30 part-time.

Years with the company: Eight. I joined in 2010 when my husband, John Rihm, passed away in 2010. His grandfather founded the company.

First job at this company: President. Prior to my husband’s death, I was on the board and was active once a year, when I attended the annual board meeting.

At what age? 53.

Most memorable thing I learned from my husband: Be generous with time, talent and money with whomever needs it. Also, appreciate employees’ talents.

Best thing about this job: It gives me purpose and pleasure to know that we support a great industry and supply good jobs for hard-working people and their families. One reason I kept the business was that I felt strongly that people had given their entire careers to the company, which had allowed my family and me to have a very nice life. If I sold it, people may not have been treated the same way.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: Rihm Family Companies is a third-generation, family-owned and -operated company focused on providing exceptional service delivered with the highest standards in the heavy-duty trucking industry. Founded in 1932, under the name Rihm Motor Company, Rihm is a growth-oriented company committed to doing the right thing — treating others the way we want to be treated.

On my desk: A glass paperweight etched with a capital R, owned by the three previous owners. When my husband was ill, his sister gave it to me. I keep it to honor the three.

One of my greatest accomplishments: Taking over the business under the worst circumstances and then turning it around and growing it more in the last eight years than it grew in the previous 78, in a male-dominated business. Maybe it took a woman’s nurturing touch. More recently, we built two new facilities, moving from one that was built in 1951. We also acquired a truck leasing and rental business.

Best thing about working in a family business: You get to work with your kids.

Worst thing about working in a family business: You have to work with your kids. Kidding aside, it can be hard to leave work at your office. We try to plan family outings and just have fun.

My advice for other family business leaders: Be firm with your expectations for your kids and your other family members regarding their roles in your business.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: My husband died from a brain tumor, so we support the American Brain Tumor Association, as well as local hospitals. We also support various food distribution organizations like Second Harvest Heartland and Feed My Starving Children, as well as World Vision, the Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission.
 
I realized I had emerged from my husband’s shadow … two or three years into this adventure. I had 180 days to convince the manufacturer I could be a dealer. Other dealers were suggesting I sell the business to them. After the shock of losing my husband and the grief I felt, it took that long for me to feel like I knew what was going on and to stop prefacing each decision by asking myself, “What would John do?”

Future succession plans: I’ve done some work to organize my estate to pass the business to my children and keep it in the family. We still need to get my son, a vice president, on the franchise contract as the designated successor. My daughter has worked here, and I’ll be excited to watch her career goals unfold when she completes college.

Words I live by: Be prepared, be humble and be truthful.

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

 

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Second.

Company revenues: $140 million projected for 2017.

Number of employees: 500.

Years with the company: 14. I joined the company in 2004 and became president in 2006. Our parent company in India manufactures rugs and textiles, such as pillows, and we do the selling.

First job at this company: After college I worked in New York in investment banking. When I joined Surya as vice president of sales, we were only a $3 million company selling to a small group of retailers at the time. My job was to understand the customer base and how to increase it, and to grow the company.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: Passion for the business. He loved what he was doing. Keep your word, and think long-term.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: Enjoy the simple things in life.

Best thing about this job: I get to do a lot of fun things. I get to travel all over the world and meet all kinds of people.

One of our greatest successes: We were able to weather the recession. Even in the worst days, you’ve got to be present. We knew fewer people would be buying, but if we tried hard enough, it would be an opportunity.

Best advice I ever got: Always believe in yourself, in your capabilities. Don’t second-guess yourself.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: To be the most customer-centric company offering the best selection of products and simplifying the buying experience.

One of my greatest accomplishments: Diversifying into multiple channels. We started selling to rug stores. Now we sell through furniture stores, interior design communities and ecommerce.

Best thing about working in a family business: You’re building on something multigenerational. Every decision is not about current profit or thinking short term, it’s more about building a legacy. There’s pride in being a custodian of the family business. It’s fun and it gives you perspective. My goal is not the next five years, it’s the next 30. How do I build this business so the next generation can take it to the next level? How do I set it up so they win? I feel I have long-term options people in public companies don’t have.

My advice for other family business leaders: Make tough decisions fast and have a clear objective.

On a day off I like to … enjoy the fatherly life. I have three young children.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: Our biggest cause is Food for Education. Other charities include Project Mala, which works to eradicate child labor from the carpet industry in India; the March of Dimes; and the Pain Free Patriots Program to help veterans get help for their pain. We try to stick with three or four every year.

Future succession plans: My kids are very young, but it’s never too early to start planning. I’m building a leadership team by hiring from different industries so if something happens to me abruptly we’ll have a team that can step in and fill the void. They’ll be custodians of the business until someone emerges from the family that can lead it. But I don’t want one of my children to earn the leadership role because they’re in the family, I want them to earn it because of their merits. My goal is to bring this to a level where it attracts the best candidate. If that happens within the family, that’s great. If not, it’s still great as long as we continue to build value for our customers.

Words I live by: Show up every day. Learn from yesterday. Yesterday is today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream. Make the best of today.

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

$10.00

Every family business has a unique narrative with fascinating characters. There’s the founder, whose vision and values originally defined the company. The founder’s legacy directly affects the members of successor generations. Some may wonder if they have the expertise to lead, while others may question their parents’ or grandparents’ business decisions.

Then there is the supporting cast: the brothers, sisters, spouses, cousins, married-ins and non-family employees. Many will be concerned about the company’s future and their personal wealth. Clearly, you have all the elements of a compelling drama.

Compelling or not, drama isn’t a great business strategy. An extreme example is the long-running feud between family members who controlled Market Basket, a New England grocery chain. The company lost $583 million in sales and was targeted by employee and customer protests while two cousins, both grandsons of the founder — one a board member, the other chief executive — publicly vied for control of the business. The dispute ended with one cousin buying out the other and retaining control of the supermarket chain, but not without losing millions of dollars, enduring years of legal battles and permanently damaging family relationships, with the damage displayed in the media for all to witness.

Certainly, no business is conflict-free. However, it’s possible to plan for transitions without these explosive dynamics, reducing the stress all around while keeping family relationships intact. There are numerous critical steps in effecting a successful leadership transition, including articulation and alignment of core family and business values and determination of the future business strategy.

For those fortunate enough to have next-generation family members with the requisite talent who are interested in assuming leadership of the business and willing to put in the effort, leadership development is one of the key steps.

Developing leadership in a family business
Publicly owned companies like PepsiCo and Johnson & Johnson have talent management strategies for their fast-track employees. Developing NextGen talent within a family business should be afforded the same time, attention and disciplined approach. However, family dynamics and ownership considerations create additional complexities.

For example, a controlling shareholder may want his son to run the business, even if the son isn’t qualified, creating an understandable fissure in the family. Or consider the case of NextGens who show no interest in joining the family company, even if the business could use their talents.

Communication assumes a significant role in a family business setting. In addition to managing non-family employees, leaders must understand how to interact fruitfully with family members, including those who are not actively engaged in the business.

It is important to ensure family alignment around a set of values that will form the basis of the business values, vision and mission. This alignment is often difficult to achieve, particularly during leadership transitions. One reason for this often stems from the departing leader’s unwillingness to engage in such discussions. Other factors include a prospective successor’s hesitance to address alignment discussions until they are securely in their new role or a reluctance to think or act outside traditional ways of operating, especially when family members are vying for the top position.

When goals are not aligned across the family or the business, a heavy burden is placed on the next generation of leaders. All the various perspectives must be respected and managed. Family historical experiences are very real and can affect a business in unexpected ways, as in the Market Basket story.

When the daughter of the second-generation leader became CEO of a successful food distribution business (one of our clients), her uncles and cousins struggled with affording her the authority to lead the business through the transformations it needed to remain competitive. Although she was highly qualified and up to the task, her family continued to view her as the little gymnast on the balance beam. They could not imagine her running the family business.

A leadership development plan for a family business addresses these unique challenges. It acknowledges each family team member’s current set of core competencies and aptitudes and those that will be required in the years ahead, based on the needs of the business and family. It creates a path to acquire the skills necessary for executive positions through training, development and independent assessment.

A proper family development plan helps remove favoritism and biases from the leadership transition equation. The plan must be continually reviewed and may have to be modified to reflect changing circumstances in the family or the business, such as through death, divorce or divestiture of a major operating division.

Achieving leadership competencies
Growing up in the family business doesn’t mean a family member is ready to step into a leadership role. Effective leadership requires competencies beyond technical, functional and industry knowledge.

A leadership development plan for NextGens should begin with an honest assessment of their current skills and aptitudes. This should include a self-assessment, consideration of prior performance reviews, interviews with appropriate team members and other elements of a 360 review as appropriate. Candid discussions about the NextGen team member’s personal aspirations for the future should also occur. All too often, the senior generation makes assumptions about NextGens’ career goals without asking the NextGens what they think.

One key element of a NextGen’s development logically includes direct experience in the family business. Before a family member joins the family business, we highly recommend a minimum of two years, and ideal­ly five years, of working outside the family business. This experience is important in the development of a NextGen’s skills from the perspective of not only learning how another business operates, but also what it is like to be a non-family employee.

It is vitally important that NextGens visit customers to understand why they do business with the family organization and the impact of the family firm on the customers’ businesses. Consideration should be given to what could be done better or differently moving forward. All NextGen members coming into the business, regardless of future aspiration, should spend time in the market to understand and appreciate the sales process and how their business makes money.

NextGens also must immerse themselves in the industry. Attending trade association meetings and events, visiting strategic partners to see firsthand how they conduct business, touring distribution channels (for example, if your family business is in the consumer products sector, tour an Amazon facility) — these experiences inspire new thinking and begin the process of developing meaningful business relationships. However, the development process involves more than just attending these events. Afterward, the NextGen should debrief with a leadership development adviser and should present these learnings to colleagues within the family business. This makes the visits more than just a “field trip”; it gives the NextGens the opportunity to share their knowledge and demonstrate effective analysis and organizational and communication skills, all of which are important elements of leadership.

As they develop, NextGens should participate in strategy sessions and even attend board meetings as an observer on a selected basis. Going to national programs and conferences focused on family-controlled enterprises, such as Family Business Magazine’s Transitions conferences, is an excellent opportunity to spend time with other family business members and learn how they deal with issues affecting their businesses.

There’s no set development timeframe for NextGens to be prepared to successfully work in the family business. Most of these development activities occur over several years. Each element of the development plan should be thoroughly articulated and should focus on core competencies, which should be assessed and mastered before the NextGen moves on to positions of increasing responsibility.

Leadership and management skills are key to NextGens’ success
As the world becomes increasingly complex and technology continues to drive innovation in the workplace, it’s essential to formally develop NextGen leaders if family businesses are to remain within the family and thrive. Gone are the days when it was enough to grow up on the factory floor and rotate through various company departments without a formal leadership development plan. 

Every family business must identify competency gaps and assist NextGens in developing leadership skills. This involves assigned readings, webinars, journaling, special assignments and more, all tied to the needs of the business and the competencies that will be required in the next generation. 

Families with multiple NextGen members involved in the business might consider establishing a working group of NextGens focused on strategic business initiatives. This allows the NextGens to experience working together and solving problems, developing individually and collectively as a team long before they become the executive leaders of the family business.
NextGen members must master important leadership skills such as:

• Data-driven strategic thinking and execution
• Communication skills, including being an active listener
• Ethical decision making
• Motivating people
• Assessing and developing talent
• Identifying conflict with family and non-family members and being able to resolve and compromise when appropriate
• Understanding risk and risk mitigation strategies
• Establishing a collaborative culture
• Understanding financial data and reporting

NextGen leaders also must understand the company’s ownership dynamics and be willing to shoulder the responsibility of stewardship with a view toward the generations that preceded them and those yet to come. No small feat.

Our experience in working with family businesses over many years suggests that no one feels they started too early. In fact, many feel they may have started too late. Independent assessment is very important along with a formal development plan for NextGens. This approach has benefits well beyond the NextGens’ leadership development. It provides a framework for the family business’s future success and will enhance family communication and harmony as a result.

Each NextGen development plan is unique to the business, the family and the individuals in the mix. A plan is somewhat fluid in that respect and can change over time as each of these elements changes. Leadership development plans are hard work and require objectivity, commitment and flexibility. The benefits of planning and taking time to implement the plan extend well beyond the NextGen members. The payoff is well worth it: a drama-free family business story with a happy ending.                                         

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: I am the third generation. My grandfather started the business with my father and uncle.

Company revenues: Just under $700 million.

Number of employees: 1,300.

First job at this company: Every summer during college I worked in European cheese factories, learning cheese production and the cheese trade, apprentice-style. I did it for seven weeks out of the 10-week summer vacation and then traveled around Europe and learned cross-cultural differences, which was invaluable.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: To trust my instincts and that even if you make a marginal decision, through hard work and applied intelligence it will become a good decision.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: Perseverance. It would be interesting to study spouses of entrepreneurs because they play such a vital role, from helping transition the next generation to being the “glue.” My mother saw the start of the company, she was there when vendors came to the house for dinner, and she traveled with my father for business.

Best thing about this job: Working with people who are passionate about making our family business better.

Our greatest success: Our ability to maintain the delivery of the highest-quality cheeses to the marketplace for four generations through partnerships with our vendors and customers.

Best advice I ever got: Know what you don’t know.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: Our mission is to enhance everyday eating experiences with the highest-quality cheese, and we’re led by core values, including honesty and integrity, commitment, pride, adaptability and innovation, and leadership.

On my wall: Intermixed with family photos is a photo of our senior leadership team from 2017 when we won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

One of our greatest accomplishments: Being a vital company that is adaptive, creative and innovative, with an unwavering regard for quality.

Best thing about working in a family business: The pride that you get from continuing a tradition that enhances people’s lives, while sharing the knowledge of prior generations with the youngest generation.

Advice for other family business leaders: Trust your instincts. Regarding the next generation, let them be mentored and coached by someone other than you, because as parents we may not have the perfect prism through which to view our kids.

On a day off I like to … be active outside with skiing, golf or tennis.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: We were the 2018 Employee Giving Partner for St. Jude’s. We also support Susan G. Komen and breast cancer programs, both educational and fundraising, and we’re active with food banks in the communities we work in.

Book I think every family business leader should read: There are so many that conflict. I would advise family business owners to avoid “flavor-of-the-month” books regarding management style. Read many and select what they believe is the best approach for their situation.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … my father was in his 70s and we were sitting in a couple of meetings and he asked me for life counsel. The company still respected and honored him and found him vital, but our internal conversations had changed. There’s a transition when the son becomes the father and the father becomes the son.

Future succession plans: My three children are all in key positions, but it’s too soon to have those conversations. We have succession planning for every key job, which is a regular exercise because everyone in the company gets older every day, not just your family. We look at it holistically. We’ve taken care of estate planning, but we haven’t defined ascendancy into certain roles because my children are still early in their evolution in the company. 

Words I live by: Do the right thing.

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Fourth.

About the company: We have a corporate office [in the Philadelphia suburbs] and a manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. We develop, manufacture and distribute innovative consumables for the oral health professional (dentists and hygienists) around the world.

Number of employees: 160.

Years with the company: 15.

First job at this company: Product manager. I was responsible for the launch and subsequent development of our ultrasonic insert line, for use in hygiene appointment tooth cleaning. It gave me the opportunity to learn many aspects of the business and how they all interfaced.

At what age? 29.

Best thing about this job: The people, the energy, the variety, and knowing we’re helping people’s lives in delivering good oral health.

One of our greatest successes: Making the transition from the last generation, and maintaining and increasing the success that we’ve had. This has been done with respect, with love and with important counsel.

Best advice I ever got: You need to share your successes, burdens and anxieties with others, with a core group of people who will just listen or help and guide. That could be an advisory board, family business consultants or even your core group at your company. As amazing as you might be, you can’t just internalize everything.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: To drive relevance through targeted innovation, select partnership, brand strength and human capital.

On my desk: A rock that has our company name and logo with our tagline, “Inspired solutions for daily dentistry.” Under that are our four pillars: meaningful innovation, deeply connected, standard-setting solutions, and undeniably proven.

One of my greatest accomplishments: An early achievement that really impacted my future as a leader was licensing technology from a major consumer. That helped us develop a related product, which in turn helped us to become leaders in the category. This then gave us a platform to develop even more products and served as the next evolutionary phase in our business.

Best thing about working in a family business: The sense of pride it gives me.

Worst thing about working in a family business: Sometimes you have to be two [different] people with your family, especially with those who aren’t working in the business.

My advice for other family business leaders: Compartmentalize, especially with family members. You need to be able to emotionally separate business issues from other issues.

On a day off I like to … hang out with my husband and kids, especially outdoors or on the water. If I don’t have much time, I like to go to the movies.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: Dental causes that include Give Kids a Smile (offering free healthcare to kids who don’t have access to oral care) and Dental Volunteers for Israel (a clinic that helps all ethnicities and religions there). In addition, we are involved with the University of Pennsylvania Dental School, the Temple University Dental School and the ALS Association (a non-profit that advocates for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
 
Book I think every family business leader should read: The Trust by Susan Tifft and Alex Jones, about the New York Times.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … I never felt like I was in anyone’s shadow. However, once my father said he had gone to a meeting and someone asked, “Oh, are you Julie’s dad?” That made him very happy.

Future succession plans: There are lots of possibilities. I have two children, 16 and 13, who could both run the business.

Words I live by: My grandfather had two adages, “Remember who you are” and “The dollar is round.” Essentially, always be aware of who you are, what your values are, and what and who you represent. In terms of the dollar, this speaks to the responsibility around wealth, finances and philanthropy.

Copyright 2018 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Second.

Revenue: $27 million.

Number of employees: 80.

Years with the company: 31.

First job at this company: Account executive for local businesses. I managed their advertising and public relations activities.

At what age? A very green 24. I originally worked in radio advertising sales after college. After a while, I wanted to be on the other side of the desk creating ad campaigns, and my father asked me to join his agency.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: Family always comes first. Also, having integrity and a strong work ethic are critical to success. 

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: To appreciate everything that you have and care about those who are less fortunate.

Best thing about this job: I still get a kick out of solving marketing challenges for clients, such as our national communications campaign for the Department of Health and Human Services to increase organ donor registrations. Also, I get to work with great people every day. We have a growing, learning organization that keeps me on my toes.

Our greatest success: We’ve been able to grow by working with top national organizations, such as Kaiser Permanente, Energy Star and Disabled American Veterans.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: “Our whole mission is to help our clients ‘Inspire Actions That Matter.’ These actions ultimately improve people’s lives. We serve healthcare organizations, nonprofits, federal agencies and businesses that believe in the power of doing good.”

On my wall: Framed album covers from some of my favorite bands, including The Who, The Clash, Joe Jackson, The Pretenders and U2. They’re great conversation pieces.

One of my greatest accomplishments: In June 2017, the Washington Post named me the top CEO in the region for businesses with under 100 employees. The recognition was based on an anonymous survey of company staff members, so that employee feedback is very rewarding.

Best thing about working in a family business: Working closely with my father for more than three decades to build a thriving company from scratch has been an amazing experience. My brother-in-law is our VP of multimedia production, my two sisters have worked for the firm and most of the kids in our extended family have had internships here. It not only provides a living for us, it’s part of our family.

Advice for other family business leaders: Build a shared vision and make sure you are in the family business for the right reasons. You have to really want to do it, not do it just for convenience. You also have to hold yourself to a higher standard in everything you do each day.

On a day off I like to … ride my bike, watch a lacrosse game or just chill out.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: We support a wide range of non-profits and causes and fund scholarships to the University of Maryland College of Journalism.

Book I think every family business leader should read: The Practice of Management, by Peter Drucker, which has timeless insights.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when … I started managing some of our firm’s largest accounts on my own.

Future succession plans: I’m in my mid-50s and plan to continue working for quite a while. However, we have an executive team of 10 who are already helping run the company, and we’re working with a consultant to determine what the next phase of leadership might look like.

Words I live by: Keep growing, learning and challenging yourself.

Copyright 2018 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

 

$10.00

Generation of family ownership: Second.

Company revenue: Between $5 million and $10 million.

About the company: Kaddas Enterprises, a 100% woman-owned company, manufactures thermoformed plastic parts for a wide variety of industries, including medical, transportation and utility. The company has 25 employees.

Years with the company: In the summer of 2018, it will be 10 years.

First job at this company: General manager. My husband’s family started the company in a kitchen in 1966, and since college he’s worked here as an engineer. I did a short stint as a receptionist in 1992 when I was in school, but following that I spent 15 years with Marriott, rising to director. When my mother-in-law said she needed help, I stepped in as general manager. I wasn’t sure my husband and I would work well together, but we do.

At what age? 35.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father-in-law: He’s the ultimate innovator. His tag line is, “We can make that.” He has a reputation for finding solutions for customers, and says if we can do that, even if it’s not our product, they’ll remember us.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother-in-law: Perseverance. She’s been through some tight times, but she never gave up. She refinanced her house, cashed in stocks and put her retirement funds into this company.

Best thing about this job: Watching my team come up with solutions I couldn’t necessarily come up with on my own. Watching the spark of creativity grow, and then seeing a product being developed, and shipping that product.

Our greatest successes: Turning a customer into a friend. One company was really frustrated with us. At one point I thought we could lose them, but we came to understand the root problem from their perspective and made some design modifications for them. It took the whole team, but we turned it around and, through that, we developed a friendship. They’re our largest customer and our biggest advocate.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: Continuous improvement. We’re constantly trying to improve our systems, our processes, our products and our people. It’s part of our work ethic.

On my desk: A Ritz-Carlton doorknob from the original hotel in Boston in the 1920s. I use it as a paperweight. It’s a significant piece of my professional development. Their philosophy is, “We’re ladies and gentlemen taking care of ladies and gentlemen,” and I feel that way.

Special Report

Read more

From slave labor to thriving business: The storied history of McKissack & McKissack

Women at the wheel

Women's progress: Steady, but slow

#MeToo can affect you, too

Women add value to private boards

One of my greatest accomplishments: Growing the family business. When I arrived in 2008, we had to let a lot of people go because of the economy. We were down to six people and were able to grow it into a company with an international presence. We sell products in 14 countries.

Best thing about working in a family business: The opportunity to take the legacy and move it forward. There’s pressure to do that because I’m an in-law, but I can see the greatness that is the foundation.

Worst thing about working in a family business: The pressure of moving the legacy forward as an in-law. When the family name is on the building, there’s pressure to make everyone proud.

My advice for other family business leaders: Have a succession plan, document it and communicate it, whatever it is, whether to pass the company down, bring in outside investment or sell.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: We support HawkWatch International, a science-based non-profit that studies the impact of urbanization on birds of prey. We also support the Girl Scouts of America.
 
I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when… the company was able to fund my in-laws’ retirement. Now they can relax in this next chapter of their life.

Future succession plans: We’re going to continue to grow the company and position it for the next step, whatever that is. We’re focusing on new products and moving into a new facility. I don’t know if our children will play a role.

Words I live by: “Seek first to understand.”

Copyright 2018 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.
 

$10.00