Next-Gens Offer Advice on Joining the Business

By April Hall

Joining the family business as a next-generation family member can be challenging. Many next-gens fear they’ll be written off as entitled or too young.

What’s the best way to prove your worth -- to your family members, to your non-family colleagues and, just as important, to yourself? Here’s some advice from young family business members.

Star Hughes-Gorup, 26, a director and broker at Hughes Marino, her family’s Southern California commercial real estate firm, recalls that when she first joined as a full-time employee, “I worried about how it would be perceived if I spoke up about a different way to look at things.”

Hughes-Gorup says her perspective has paid off. Her understanding of younger employees’ preference for collaborative work areas has helped her serve her clients, she says.

“I think there is a bit of a bad rep for millennials in the workplace,” Hughes-Gorup says. To combat that, she says, she works 80 hours a week.

“Effective generational transitions require leadership from both sides,” James De Pietro, 37, a commercial real estate asset manager at Frank DePietro & Sons in Los Angeles, tells Family Business via Twitter. “One generation cannot succeed without the other.”

The real estate investment and management company will rebrand itself later this year as De Pietro Holdings to reflect the growth of the business, James DePietro says.

“We are still trying to plan our company’s transition,” De Pietro says. “I am a member of the third generation, and we believe in developing a plan for the company’s future. The second generation focuses more on operations, so it has been a challenge engaging them in this process. The lesson is that both living generations need to lead the process.”

Jason Percifield (pictured above), 33, a third-generation family member at L&H Industrial -- a Gillette, Wyo.-based company that designs and manufactures components and assemblies for heavy equipment -- admits that when he joined the family business, he could have communicated better with the older generation.

“As a young man in my early 20s, I would have disagreements with people in the company about things I thought I knew a lot about, but were really not that important,” Percifield says via Twitter.

Percifield, now operations manager at the company, says he learned to accept people and experiences for what they are. He now adjusts his reaction to them instead of trying to change them, he says.

“There will be both great customers and employees alike that leave the company over the years. You can’t worry yourself to death about it,” Percifield says. “And it usually always works out at the end of the day.”

Percifield says he’s also learned about work/life balance. “I think it is very important to separate your work from your personal life,” he says, “and this is especially true in regards to family members you work with every day in the business.” 

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