Family Business Q&A: John Neretlis

A brief chat with a family business stakeholder.

John Neretlis
Property Manager, Rowntree Enterprises


What is your company background?

JN: Currently we are a real estate management company located in Toronto, Ontario. We were founded in 1970.

What generation of family ownership do you represent?

JN: I am from Generation 2. Brian Rowntree is still the only owner of the company.

And what is your role in the family enterprise?

JN: I am married in; I’m a manager within the business, and I perform the role of Family Council Leader. I formed the Family Council, and we’ve been going through the formalization process for the last two years. We just drafted all the documentation. We have identified the issues in transitioning to G2. We’ve seen the problems, and we’re trying to jump on it early.

What were some of these issues?

JN: Trying to not have my kids be like the previous generation. Things were changing directions [within the company], and some people were very confused. We need to have a plan [to advance the company] or else they’ll lose interest. Generation 3 didn’t know what was happening [with the company's plans for the future]. There were a lot of mixed messages – that continued into G3 – so we said, ‘Let’s get the messaging correct.’

What are some of the biggest challenges regarding educating the younger generation?

JN: Working for a business and owning a business are two different things. The new generation (ages 11-25) is at the age now where they are questioning: what will they do in college versus what makes them happy. Those nuances need to be cleared up.

What are some other challenges of a family-run business?

JN: - Identifying problems that may arise in the future. We’re trying to come up with ways to transition [to the new generation] and how things will move forward [in the business].

- Identifying a clear process for the younger generation. Their lives shouldn’t be governed by business.

Rob Chakler

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