Working with Family
As many of you may or may not know, I’m a second-generation owner. Like so many others in this business, we were – and continue to be – a family business.
My brother and I are 50-50 partners (actually, 51-49 partners, but that’s a story for another time).
Now, we all know the stats: Of the 18 million businesses in the United States, 80 percent are family dominated. Seventy percent of family businesses will fail in the second generation (and half of those survivors will fail going into the third). So, combine that with the joys of working with family (I’m being facetious), and you may be questioning your decision on owning a family business.
First, let me give you some background for those not familiar with the Nagy family setup. My father founded the company (Nagy’s Collision Specialists) in 1973 – in fact, we’re celebrating our 40th year in business this year. Back when my dad was starting the business, my mom did the bookkeeping and answered the phones. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
I sometimes struggle with who I admire the most: my dad for starting the business with six kids ranging from 3 to 14 years old – or my mom, who not only allowed him to start the business with so many young kids, but was also a working mom during this time.
Dan and I were the only boys. None of my four sisters worked with us back then (since then, my oldest sister has retired from the county job she held for 32 years and oversees our car rental operation). I’m not sure why the rest of my sisters never joined us in the family business … whether they realized there is more opportunity outside the collision business, or they had a problem working for Dan and me.
As far as our wives, my brother’s wife is a working physical therapist who is raising their four kids, and my wife, Kris, is a middle school guidance counselor. Kris did work for me for about two days when an office manager left abruptly (fired), but after the second day I told her: “Honey, I don’t know what I would do without you working beside me … but tomorrow I’m going to find out.” (This is another story, also.)
Now that you know the background, let me get to the point. I have worked beside my father and my brother for more than 30 years. Every day, there are challenges with working with family. Different personalities, similar personalities. It’s hard to ever get away from business, even at the Sunday lunch table. Topics, situations and problems come up. There are times you want to scream and there are times you want to smack each other! But at the end of the day, I, personally, would not want it any other way.
I love my family more than life itself. So I tip my hat, I applaud, I cheer, praise, salute all the family businesses out there. Those who work for their father – like I did for so many years – God bless you! And those who work beside their spouse every day, God help you. (I’m kidding, Kris!)
In so many ways we family businesses are living the American dream, and no one can take that away.By Ron Nagy, AAM, Chairman
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