Steven M. Altman

You cannot run your business like like a family business! All employees have to be treated as equals and you have to promote and hire only the best. Twenty years ago nepotism may have worked but many people pay for bad decisions in the workplace.

For me growing up in a family business, I thought I always had to be the hardest worker and put the most time in at work. I felt it was my name on the front door and this was taught to me from my grandfather and father. Today, I am the owner of a five-generation janitorial company that is 105 years old. My son is working for our company now, when he is not in college at Ohio State University. I strongly feel that one must work hard to earn the respect of your fellow coworkers. I can assure you that my children will have this same belief.

Steven M. Altman, president
Youngstown Cleaning Co.
Girard, Ohio



Scott Stevenson

Fifty-four years ago my father started the business that has evolved into KleenMark. In 2003, after a decade as the company's president, I became the sole proprietor. Our commitment to succession planning, open communications and consensus on long-term goals has allowed the company, and my family, to thrive.

We know that what is good for a family business isn't always good for a family member, so we developed a strong succession plan. This has helped us identify our personal business goals within the company goals, matching the right person to the right job.

Maintaining an open line of communication also has been critical to our success. As KleenMark's chairman, my father comes to the office every morning to meet for status updates and idea generation (i.e. where to go for lunch). Communication keeps the family and company's goals on track.

Scott Stevenson, president/CEO
Madison, Wis.



Tim Murch

Knowing the statistics on the declining success of second- and third-generation family businesses, they must work on and address all the family aspects as a very high priority.

Setting family members up to succeed with their best skill sets is critical as everyone has strengths and weaknesses. These must be understood for the individual and business's success.

Clearly understanding each family member's role, responsibility and authority is very important, not just for the family, but for everyone within the company.

Finally, utilizing a board of advisors and/or family business council resources is very helpful as they address shared experiences with common challenges and issues with other family business.

Tim Murch president
Mitch Murch's Maintenance Management Co.
St. Louis

Next month: How will health care reform impact building service contractors?

If you’d like the opportunity to share your opinion, send an e-mail to Dan Weltin