Over the last century, quite a few of my relatives have run their own businesses — a bakery, an entertainment agency, a clothing shop. Each of those relatives wanted to experience the American entrepreneurial dream. These businesses were successful, but none of them were handed down to the next generation. The children grew up and went after their own pursuits, and when the owners retired or quit, the businesses were closed or sold.

For this month’s cover story, assistant editor Dan Weltin interviewed the owners and executives of several family-owned building service contracting companies. Some of these companies have thrived into their third and fourth generations. What’s their secret? They credit the ability to separate work from family — not an easy task when your boss is your brother, as you’ll read.

That same ability is useful when your children choose to pursue careers outside of the family business. It’s hard not to be hurt, but at the same time, a child pressured to work for his or her parents isn’t going to be a top performer, and both business and personal relationships will suffer.

As fourth-generation BSC Steve Altman says, you have a responsibility to your customers, employees and other stakeholders to put the best team forward — and that should include making sure everyone on your team wants to be there.

Stacie H. Whitacre, Editor