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Working with family

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Erin Holohan Haskell
Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,347
Many of us work with our family members (for better or worse!). As the third generation of my family in the industry, I've learned a lot from watching my parents work with my grandparents, with each other, and with me - their youngest daughter.

If you work with family, what have you learned along the way? Other than, "Don't work with family." ;)

President
HeatingHelp.com

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,497
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    Complicated!
    It varies, and sometimes changes from family to family. Good communication is important, who does what, who makes the final call, and of course the biggest issue $$.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    That's tricky. A number of things have to fall into place. The original owner has to let go of the reins and trust in the next generation. Sometimes with multiple family members this has to be a written out and well known..
    Someone has to be the final word, as @hot rod stated.
    My situation was to just purchase the heating oil business straight away from my father about 15 years ago, so I could be the final say. It helps in a business with a physical component, that my father just couldn't and didn't want to do it anymore (although he's always around to help).
    Our friction comes from the fact that he's:
    a) Italian immigrant (hard headed-like his son).
    b) To paraphrase him, "You can't change this or that...you'll lose customers..." and "...I don't need combustion analyzer. I set them up by eye and they work fine..." Also, "...why are you spending so much time on the annual tune-up?..." And my favorite "...You cleaned and tuned them up too good. You're not getting any service calls".
    Still wouldn't trade it or him for anything else.
    So to paraphrase Dan, don't forget to "Hug your parents (and grandparents if they're still around)".
    All that experience and wisdome they have needs to be passed on.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,347
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    Great points, @hot rod and @STEVEusaPA. Thanks for sharing.

    I agree about communication and having a formal, written plan for transition and selling the business to the next generation.

    I'm very fortunate to have a strong relationship with my parents. I love and respect them and am in awe of what they built together in terms of both our family and the business. I never took anything for granted and knew I had to put in the hard work just like they did. To their credit, they never treated me like a kid when it came to business. They allowed me a seat at the table and considered my suggestions. I think it was their openness to my involvement and my respect for their knowledge that made our transition so successful. We've also have a lot of fun together and laugh often.

    Yes, all three of us are stubborn (and how!), but we like to call it "strong willed." And I think you need a certain amount of that to be an entrepreneur, but when working with family, just because you know the hot buttons, doesn't mean you have to push them. We just try to remember that we were family first and always will be that.

    Oh, and if you work with your mom and are ever at an event that involves pinot grigio, just know she's going to spill some embarrassing childhood stories. That's just a mom perk. Here's to The Lovely Marianne!

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • Noel
    Noel Member Posts: 177
    edited October 2017
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    You have great parents and are lucky to be in the position that you find yourself in. Cherish it always. I enjoy working with my son in the building trade, and he's a craftsman that makes me proud. He's building tiny houses and at the show in Brattleboro, took "best in show" at his first one. I've only worked with him on a few jobs (putting radiant tubing in the floors of a new home) and I find it enormously satisfying. https://www.facebook.com/tinylivingspaces.net/
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    The smartest business decision Marianne and I ever made was to get out of Erin's way.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Noel
    Noel Member Posts: 177
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    Smart people. You have a good thing, here.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,347
    edited October 2017
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    @Noel, I am lucky to have them. And congratulations to your son. He does beautiful work. I'm glad you've had the opportunity to work together. Thanks for sharing.

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
    edited October 2017
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    And she’s right about respect. We listened to her because she made sense. She saw so many things we were missing. She’s been running this place for a lot longer than most people realize. I was very happy when she stepped out from behind the curtain.

    Recognizing the talent and learned skills of others is important in any organization, but even more so in a family business. Too often, the old think they’re smarter than the young simply because they’re older. I’m not smarter.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,347
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    Recognizing the talent and learned skills of others is important in any organization, but even more important in a family business. Too often, the old think they’re smarter than the young simply because they’re older. I’m not.

    Thanks, Dad. I think mutual respect and a willingness to learn from one another is key.

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    Noel! Gosh.
    Retired and loving it.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
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    I learned my son talks to much... :#
    Erin Holohan HaskellYoungplg
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    Lol
    Retired and loving it.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,255
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    Because you & TLM did a bang up job raisin the kids,
    It's ok to step aside when they stand their ground. You're getting the common sense
    You taught them back at ya. Mad Dog
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    Thanks, pal. I think I learned more than I taught. I paid attention.
    Retired and loving it.