If you have a family business or plan on having a family business, you’ll relate to this article. Unbeknown to me, back in 1976, getting involved in the flooring industry was not on my radar. I was working with my father-in-law Jerry (Photo 1), installing carpet while going to school. Forty-three years later, we’re still involved and now another generation is continuing in the flooring/building industry. My son, Jason, attended college for a year, but decided he wanted to be involved with the family business. I remember having a discussion with him about being in this business and to not swim with all the other fish, but to be different and to maintain high standards with business and work ethics. He’s done a great job of that and I know that he’ll continue to maintain this level of craftsmanship and work ethic in the years to come.

Family friends of ours, the Lewis family, own a business in Phenix City, Ala. Father Roy, wife Robin, son Allen, and his son Westin, have owned Eagle Interiors for 22 years and in July 2015 expanded their business and opened up Eagle Floorcovering Supplies. Who knows, one day Allen’s son Westin may eventually be part of the business; from the way his dad dressed him up a few years ago he’s fitting right in. (Photos 2-3)

When we talk about a family business, it means all hands-on deck at times. My wife and oldest son, who are now the day-to-day management of the company, along with our daughter and youngest son, who assist on their days off when needed, keep things moving forward along with our employees. Maybe we should have had more kids!

Speaking with Roy and Robin, we see many of the same challenges owning and operating a family business: the ability to work together and there has to be give and take. Patience is something that is a challenge for me. When you are so used to being the go-to person making the decisions for years, it can be a difficult transition to start to move toward the backseat and passing the torch, but it’s a transition that’s needed. The future generations need to find their identity in the overall business. For so many years, our sons and daughters have been in our shadows growing and becoming part of the business, but they need to progress into the management and decision-making process to really feel they have a sense of purpose with the business.

Do I expect more from family members? Yes, I do, and that can lead to frustrations, pushing them to be better than someone who is not a family member, holding them to a higher standard and pushing your values on to them can get you a certain nickname which I have—so once again, be patient. 

There will be challenges with any business, but having a family business can also be very rewarding. Some things to look into are succession planners that can assist family businesses and seminars at flooring conventions that cover the topic. 

Also, if you have an inventory of tools and equipment, what will happen should someone pass away? We had a friend and business colleague pass away recently and he had his life insurance and personal plans in place but not his construction equipment. We’re in the process of assisting the family in going through and trying to take care of equipment and tools; there was nothing designated in his will to address what would happen with all the equipment in the event of him passing away.

Thank you, Tom, for being part of the Namba family and also for being a great friend and mentor. We will miss you dearly.

As the years have gone by with life’s ups and downs, there are no regrets with the direction I took, and looking forward, I know that every day brings a new opportunity for our family business. One thing to remember is that the knowledge each generation passes on only helps to strengthen the next generation, so from our family to yours, we wish you the best of success. (Photo 4)