For Matthew and Sanford Siegal, the solution has been a clearly delineated division of duties. Matthew runs the retail side of Dr. Siegals Cookie Diet, a Miami company started by his dad, physician Sanford Siegal, and now expanding internationally. Sanford runs the product/manufacturing side. We use our skill sets to complement our business needs.
One of the big areas of conflict has been growth strategy. He has much bigger plans than I would have, explains Sanford. Im 83 years old and dont have grandiose plans. He wants to expand all over the world. I dont object, but I dont want to increase my role.
Mendoza points out the young generation, as is the case with Matthew, often are risk takers. The concern is whether they realize the business may be the sole financial security for older parents. The Siegals say they temper each other in this area. I will say this cant fail, Matthew says, My dad will say it can and it probably will. We meet somewhere in the middle. I could get into trouble if I didnt have him to put brakes on my exuberance. And, if not for my exuberance, he would put the brakes on everything.
Martin Luytjes, who teaches a family business class at Florida International University, says father-son businesses work best when each recognizes and appreciates what talent the other brings. There has to be a mutual sensitivity and trust. Theres another dynamic at play, too: Theres a need for a pat on the back from dad a son never outgrows at any age.
Patrick Range Jr. has been working alongside his father for the past five years. He gave up a prestigious position as a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig after his grandmother passed away in 2006 too much for my dad to run the business alone. I felt a responsibility to take an active role. The company, started by his grandfather, runs three funeral homes serving the black communities of Miami-Dade County.
Patrick Jr., 35, says he has a different perspective than his 72-year-old dad: I understand the younger generation and what their needs are. Just last week, he helped a young woman plan a memorial service for her father. She was not interested in having a traditional service with the deceased present.
Initially, Patrick says his dad pushed back when he brought a different perspective to the decades old funeral business. Its taken some adjustment on both of our parts but weve learned when to back off and when to push. I think its benefitted the business.
Patrick says a huge challenge has been the struggle for work-life balance. This is an area where he has pushed hard to change his fathers mindset: Ive encourage him to realize you do not have to be at your desk to function in an efficient manner. Ive even forced him to take off one day a week.
A challenge that most dads face is the role reversal. Learning when to pipe up, when to stay quiet and when to keep fighting. Alberto Argudin, 59, says he never expected his son, Albert, 35, to join the company, A.D.A. Engineering in Doral. He now heads the construction management division. And although Alberto says he doesnt always agree with his sons style, he acknowledges it works. He is more into delegating. It has worked. He gets his work done and put in less hours.
In an economy where job demands are all-consuming for most workers, fathers and sons say they value their time together. I think it has changed our relationship says Albert, adding that working a 50- to 60-hour a week job and juggling his young children would have left him little time with dad.
Now, regardless of whats going on at their engineering firm, he and his dad eat lunch together at least four days a week. Talk about the business takes a back seat unless theres something pressing. Albert says over his 12 years at the engineering firm, the two make an extra effort keep work and personal differences from affecting their relationship: We might butt heads in our personal lives but Monday its business as usual.