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Start Your Business Success Stories

9 Successful Businesses Run by Parents and Kids

9 Successful Businesses Run by Parents and Kids

Generational differences are often a source of tension and struggle between parents and their children. In some cases, though, these differing perspectives — along with a strong, loving familial bond — can serve as the basis for a successful business partnership.

We asked the leadership teams of nine family-run businesses about the advantages and challenges they've had working with their parent or child, and their advice for other parent-child business owners.

This wheat- and gluten-free food manufacturer was founded by Steven Rice in 1993. His son, Aaron, now works with him as Authentic Foods' vice president of sales and marketing.

Business News Daily: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your father?

Aaron Rice: It makes communication easier because we know each other well. There is something different about the communication of a father and son than other relationships.

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

A.R.: Getting my father to give up some control. He's been doing everything himself for many years and it is an adjustment to have a partner.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

A.R.: Open communication is key. Start by delineating clear responsibilities about who is in charge of what and fall back on those when there is conflict and a decision must be made. [Want Your Family Business to Thrive? Modernize & Plan Ahead]

Mother and daughter Kathy Moça and Emilie Whitaker were inspired by the figure-flattering jean designs of Brazil and created Beija-Florjeans together.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your mother/daughter?

Emilie Whitaker: Having a partner who really knows me, and whom I have a great amount of respect for. When we started, we didn't have to go through the process of getting to know each other and figuring out how to work with one another, which allowed us to produce quick results.

Kathie Moça:The shared passion we have for our company. This is truly what has carried us through tough times. When one of us is running a little low on passion, the other one kicks it up a notch!

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

E.W.: As in all family businesses, boundaries are hard to set and even harder to preserve. I think both of us have a hard time "leaving the office" and transitioning back and forth between partners and mother-daughter.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

E.W.: Be patient and kind to each other. Unfortunately, sometimes it's easy to treat those we love the most with the least care.

K.M.: Share the work. From the very beginning we had a division of roles and responsibilities, with the understanding that sometimes we have to cover for each other.

John Paul DeJoria, co-founder and chairman of the company responsible for the renowned Paul Mitchell hair care products, currently works with his daughter, Michaeline, who is vice chairwoman.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your father/daughter?

Michaeline DeJoria.: Getting wisdom and knowledge that you wouldn't otherwise get. Many people get to observe what [my father] does, but to have the opportunity to have it explained and taught to you behind the scenes throughout your life, and the understanding behind it, is really special (and so valuable!). 

John Paul DeJoria: The pride of having and seeing a very proficient daughter. She never ceases to amaze me, but most importantly ... my executive staff feels the same. I'm definitely a proud dad.

BND:What has been the greatest challenge?

M.D.: Our generational differences. Something like social media, for example, took me ages to convince him was a relevant thing. We think a lot alike, but have very different sets of eyes in some ways. Bridging that gap between things being the way we know them and things being totally new and different in this day and age sometimes takes a little extra effort.

J.P.D.: The biggest challenge in working with my daughter was ... letting go of certain areas so that she can complete her mission. She is part of the millennial generation, so it's also a matter of keeping up with her and learning from her.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

M.D.: Don't have an ego. It's not about who is the boss, who is entitled to what, and certainly not about who knows better. We both have one goal: to grow the business for our staff and our customers' sake. When you have selfless intentions that are united, just do what needs to be done.

J.P.D.: If you are lucky enough to have a child that is proficient, you learn that your past knowledge may not always be right, so be open to your children informing you of what they think and why.

Dave Greenhalgh is the current owner of a Minuteman Press printing franchise based in Medford, Oregon. His stepson, Sean Byrne, is his co-owner and future successor.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your stepson?

Dave Greenhalgh: I hired Sean because I was convinced he was the best person for the job.There are some obvious advantages such as Sean's enthusiasm and go-getting mentality. Leader ... is a title that cannot be given to someone. It must be earned, and Sean has certainly done so.

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

D.G.: The fact that [Sean] is family initially gave me concern. The potential for having to fire a family member and the effect it would have not only on the business, but on our entire family relationship was not something I wanted to put anyone through. However, I am very happy to say that Sean is the best hire I have made in the 20 years I have been in business.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

D.G.: Consider the possible negative impact of hiring a family member. The possible resentment of the staff and the harm it could do to family dynamics is a very serious consideration.

NuFACE, an at-home anti-aging skin care device, was founded in 2005 by Carol Cole and her daughters, Tera and Kimberly. Today, Tera serves as the CEO.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your mother?

Tera Valdez-Peterson: Each one of us has very different backgrounds and talents [that] are complimentary to one another. My mom, Carol, is what I call the mad scientist; my sister, Kim, is the worker bee and gets all the office stuff done; and I am the "assertive" sales person. Without each part we wouldn't have been able to launch and grow our company.

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

T.V.:  We are all doing this for the first time so we are constantly learning as we go. That's definitely the biggest challenge since we are starting from scratch. Fortunately, we have good heads on our shoulders, a knack for business and know our customers very well.  

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

T.V.: You can't change someone. Embrace each other's differences to recognize the value in a different point of view. My weaknesses are my mom's strengths and vice versa and we love to learn from each other.   

Jeff Braverman is the third-generation owner of Nuts.com, which was founded by his grandfather in 1929 as the Newark Nut Co. He currently serves as CEO, after inheriting the company from his father, Kenny.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your father?

Jeff Braverman: This came down to years of knowing one another and trust. I could wholeheartedly trust my dad and he in turn ultimately put blind faith in my stewardship. After showing my potential, I was summarily handed the keys [to the business].

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

J.B.: Encountering typical family tension. Sometimes, this can be emotionally draining. 

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

J.B.: I think parents should expose their children to as much as possible, as early as possible. I know many peers that wanted to work with their parents, but were frustrated that their parents kept things very guarded and were reluctant to share. It's important to note that humility and curiosity are very important characteristics, especially in a family business. 

In 2010, Chrissy Weems helped her then-14-year-old daughter Bella co-found Origami Owl, a custom jewelry company that now operates on a direct sales "home party" model.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your daughter?

Chrissy Weems: Having the opportunity to work alongside each other, learning how to grow a new business together and seeing firsthand the importance of people over profit. It has been fulfilling watching her grow as a young woman in business as well as in her compassion for others. We both have been empowered to effect change in this world by sharing the Origami Owl business opportunity with others.

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

C.W.: Reminding my daughter that education must come first and that she must find time to be a kid. I never wanted Bella to miss out on opportunities with her friends; however, she is committed to Origami Owl and was willing to sacrifice a lot to support growing it. Weekends were spent at the mall kiosk before we expanded into the social selling platform.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

C.W.: Find something you are both passionate about and set goals. Be willing to commit the time necessary to build the business and surround yourself with others that lift you up. When Bella and I started out we sacrificed a lot, which impacted our entire family, but we were willing to do what needed to be done to be successful and provide a life-changing opportunity for others. 

Natural "peanut butter with a twist" company PB Crave was founded by Curt Riess. His son, Austin, serves as the company's general manager.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your father?

Austin Riess: We are able to connect and work together on strategy with [my father] having the experience for input but also having ... the new-age ideas that I am able to bring forward to improve and build a stronger business model.

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

A.R.: The greatest challenge is [our] age difference. My father is in his 50s and I am 24. I come from a different generation and background, and have new ideas and ways of doing things. So you need to be able to compromise on different things.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

A.R.: Work somewhere else for a year or more [if you're the son or daughter]. That was a requirement for me to come into the business. I had to go out and prove myself and experience a different work environment to see the different benefits and downfalls. You also will be able to see how vastly different business models vary by company. This is good to understand and it will allow you to be able to react better in different business environments and bring some experience to the table.

Skyline Windows, a New York-based custom window company, is currently run by CEO Steven Kraus and his son, senior vice president Matthew.

BND: What is the greatest advantage of running a business with your father?

Matthew Kraus: I'm learning from someone that I truly admire and respect. I've been watching my father run Skyline Windows for as long as I can remember and I greatly value his insight. Furthermore, my father knows me better than anyone and he is able to use that knowledge and deep connection in order to properly challenge and encourage me.

BND: What has been the greatest challenge?

M.K.: My father and I both have very strong personalities and in some areas we have differing opinions. It can be very difficult to appropriately challenge someone from a business standpoint when you've looked up to that person your entire life. You need to be able to remove the personal relationship from the picture and solely focus on the fact that you are ... having a professional discussion with a colleague, not your father.

BND: What advice do you have for other parent-child teams?

M.K.: Ultimately, you have to understand that your child is his own person with his own ambitions, dreams and goals. You cannot force your child to follow in your footsteps or else you will have nothing but resentment, [and] the company's future will not be as successful as you hope it will.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.