Many companies on HomeStars are family run businesses. The father and son duo is a common one and there is something comforting about the tradition of a father teaching his son about his trade, passing on his wisdom of the business and eventually handing down the company he has built. When speaking with some friends about this phenomenon everyone seemed to agree that if they had the choice between two great companies and one was a family business they would probably chose the family but no one could say exactly why.
When I asked Kris at Long Life Windows & Doors Ltd., what the best thing about working with his father is, he responded:
The best part of working for Long Life is the prideful traditions carried through my Father. The small company feel and close nit atmosphere from our installers to the office staff, everyone feels like they are adopted. When things are done right –and done right through different generations –I think it carries more weight. Having a direct mentor like my Father is a huge benefit in learning the business.
This sense of pride is also very strong for the Birnie’s of Birnie Thos R & Sons Ltd in Hamilton ON. This company has a long family history in the plumbing trade, dating back to the 1920’s. Rob Birnie responded saying that his grandfather was so passionate about the business that it was infectious: ‘We all desired to keep Grandpa’s vision and hard work going“.
Most family businesses are passed on in much the same way. MacMillan Homes is another company that has been passed on going four generations now. Kevin MacMillian responded saying: each generation has made the decision on their own to continue in the business. Things for Kris at Long Life were a little more difficult ‘I had to twist his arm to let me join full time, but it a decision we are both very happy with looking back.’
With any ups there will be downs. Working with your family can cause challenges that are different than a regular business. Many companies agreed that it can be difficult to separate work from home life and several companies commented that decision making can be trying. And in addition, Yevgeniy Gorlov from Art Metal Workshop & Home Improvement adds, you can’t take vacations together as easily either. For the most part however, the companies agree that a family business has its advantages.
All the companies who responded stated that because their businesses are family operated, there is a greater sense of pride and integrity since often it’s the family name on the line. It’s also easier to achieve common goals– more likely that everyone is on the same page and who wants to get yelled at by Dad??
Elena from Frames and Pictures Unlimited works with both her mother and father : Customers usually are pleasantly surprised when they realize that we are a husband/wife/daughter team. And they usually realize by accident when they hear me call Tim “dad” or notice my uncanny resemblance with my mother. I think they feel closer to us when they see we are a family and their pleasant reaction always makes me feel proud that we are this close.
The moral of the story seems to be: it’s business and it’s personal. That is what makes these companies so attractive. Family business is always endearing but when you are looking for a contractor to come into your home — inviting strangers into your home — it’s somehow more comforting to invite the whole family of strangers. Strangers with fantastic reputations who understand working together to achieve common goals. Business that are successful enough to build a legacy. People who are passionate enough to pass along their knowledge and trade to their children and grandchildren.