Many tree care companies are family-run organizations, which brings a unique dynamic to the workplace, complete with its own set of rewards and challenges. After all, when you mix family and business, you’re never off the clock, and separating family roles from business responsibilities is often a difficult feat.
So, how can family-run companies best keep the peace while running a profitable business? David Ransburg, consultant for The Family Business Consulting Group, offered a few practical pointers for families in business in an interview with the Tree Care Industry Association.
“I would suggest that every family that owns a business get very clear about where they want the family and the business to be in the future, and why they’re all in business together,” Ransburg advised. “In my experience, having that shared vision and purpose can help families get through the occasional rough patch.”
Such rough patches, according to Ransburg, often stem from “knowledge gaps” in working family relationships. “In other words, you and I disagree not because one of us is right and the other is wrong, but it’s likely because there’s some piece of information or a certain perspective that one of us has but the other does not,” Ransburg said.
“Instead of immediately getting angry when you hear something you don’t like – which is, by the way, very easy to do when you are interacting with family members with whom you share a lot of history – try to figure out what that knowledge gap is, and do your best to shrink it,” Ransburg added. “Don’t get mad; get curious!”
TCIA member company Jim’s Tree and Multi Service LLC, founded and run by Jim Meaux Jr., CTSP, offers a similar perspective on what it’s like to run a tree care company as a family operation. Meaux’s father works with him on a day-to-day basis, and his 26-year-old son occasionally works with him on contracts.
As such, three generations of Meauxs can often be found working together on a job, which presents challenges for Jim Meaux Jr., who manages both his father and his son.
How does he balance his family and work relationships? “It’s almost like a switch goes on and off,” Meaux said. “When we’re on a job, whoever is working for me that day is treated as a non-related person. I don’t give [my dad or son] preferential treatment. I’m like a drill sergeant. I respect them, but I also don’t cut them any slack. That way you don’t cause hard feelings in the people who are not related to you.”
Join the “Families in Business” Roundtable at WMC 2014!
Are you heading out to our Winter Management Conference (WMC) next week? Be sure to check out our Families in Business Roundtable and Lunch , which will be held on Monday, February 3. The Families in Business Roundtable is the perfect outlet for family members who work full or part-time in the tree care industry to meet and exchange ideas with like-minded peers.
If you’re part of a family business but can’t make it to the Bahamas this year, consider joining TCIA’s Families in Business Facebook Group, which is an open forum dedicated to exploring the challenges characteristic of family-run tree care companies.